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Nola clears up delayed arrival to Phillies' camp

Ace tested negative for COVID-19 but stayed home as 'precaution'
@ToddZolecki
July 6, 2020

PHILADELPHIA -- Aaron Nola cleared the air Monday afternoon. The veteran right-hander said he never tested positive for COVID-19, but he had been exposed to somebody who did. That is why Nola did not participate in the Phillies’ first three Summer Camp workouts at Citizens Bank Park. But he returned

PHILADELPHIA -- Aaron Nola cleared the air Monday afternoon.

The veteran right-hander said he never tested positive for COVID-19, but he had been exposed to somebody who did. That is why Nola did not participate in the Phillies’ first three Summer Camp workouts at Citizens Bank Park. But he returned to the ballpark on Monday and threw a bullpen session. He said he thinks he can pitch for the Phils on Opening Day on July 23 or 24, although manager Joe Girardi said “it is too early to tell where exactly he’s going to fit in.”

“My arm feels great,” Nola said. “I expect to get back on a good routine here in the next few days. I'm going to get with the coaches to see when I'll throw a live batting practice -- probably in the next few days. I feel good. My arm feels good. I feel in shape. So I expect it to get back on track.”

Nola said he never experienced any symptoms for COVID-19. He got tested upon his arrival in Philadelphia and the results were negative, but because of contact tracing protocols, he remained home for several days.

“It’s been kind of weird, obviously,” Nola said. “But it’s to take precaution, and I understand the process. You don't want to take any chances around anybody at the ballpark. We're all trying to stay safe as best as possible because we want to get this season kicked off to a good start. I tried to do some home workouts to stay in shape. That's what I did until now. I think Wednesday or Thursday, I was supposed to come to the field. That was the first day I stayed home. Thursday until yesterday, I pretty much stayed home for all of those days.

“I mean, I'm glad I'm here clearing it up right now.”

Nola had been throwing and building up his arm strength for the past several weeks. He remained in Clearwater, Fla., immediately after Spring Training was suspended in March. He eventually returned home to Baton Rouge, La., and got into a five-day routine, simulating his work during a normal season.

His preparation showed Monday.

“I will say I was impressed by his bullpen today considering he hadn’t done a lot for a week,” Girardi said. “He would have been our Opening Day starter. I’ve got to give him a chance to see where he’s at.”

It shows just how much COVID-19 could disrupt a team’s plans. Nola only came in contact with somebody who tested positive for the virus, but he still missed a week’s worth of work and now might not be completely ready by Opening Day.

“If you don't have symptoms and you come in contact with somebody who ends up testing positive, you're out for probably at least seven days,” he said. “That could possibly be two starts. So it's obviously going to be a hard part of it. That's why taking precautions with the mask and stuff like that ... yeah, it's weird, but it's the one thing that will keep us safe. Obviously, we don't want to miss any starts for the amount of games that we're playing this year in a shorter season. You want to have as many as you can. That's the biggest thing. And sometimes, it's out of our control. We just have to try to do our part every day.”

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook .