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Notes: Irvin ready for any role; Nola absent

@ToddZolecki
July 4, 2020

PHILADELPHIA -- Cole Irvin spent the past few months preparing for his opportunity in the Phillies' rotation or bullpen. For two weeks, he pitched every five days in a simulated five-man rotation, because he's been a starter and starting is his preference. But for one week, he simulated two relief

PHILADELPHIA -- Cole Irvin spent the past few months preparing for his opportunity in the Phillies' rotation or bullpen.

For two weeks, he pitched every five days in a simulated five-man rotation, because he's been a starter and starting is his preference. But for one week, he simulated two relief appearances because he knows the bullpen might be his best chance to pitch this year. He repeated the process until the Phillies opened Summer Camp on Friday at Citizens Bank Park and FDR Park.

“This is a shortened season, this is a new normal, this is a different scenario,” Irvin said Saturday afternoon on a Zoom call with reporters. “You have to prepare for whatever might be thrown at you. … I don’t know my role. There’s no clean-cut scenario to what I might be, but I have a feeling that most of my innings will come out of the bullpen, so I just had to prepare a different way.”

Irvin is among a host of starting pitchers that could see time in the rotation or bullpen in a 60-game season played in the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic. The coronavirus already sidelined at least seven Phillies players. One positive test could cost somebody like Irvin a golden opportunity to pitch in the big leagues this season, preventing him from potentially elevating his status in the organization for 2021.

It should provide him and others plenty of incentive to be smart and stay safe.

“I think we all have to be in order to play a full season," Irvin said. "In my mind, I’ve been talking to guys, and I think it’s a six-week downtime to be fully ready back. If you think about it: Two weeks of quarantine, two weeks of catch play, two weeks of bullpen or whatever it might be to get yourself back and ready. There’s the season. In my opinion, it takes all of us as a unit to be able to be ready and a lot of the guys are taking it seriously, and it’s really encouraging. Obviously, we’ve had a few more cases than some other teams, but we all learned from that and you’re seeing it day to day in the operations here.”

Five storylines as Phillies open camp

Phillies manager Joe Girardi said this week that he envisions three five-man rotations because of the potential for serious problems with COVID-19. In theory, it will be the five-man rotation, plus five long relievers to piggyback their starts, plus five starters throwing on a five-day schedule at Coca-Cola Park in Allentown, Pa., the home of the Phillies' Triple-A affiliate, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs.

Any pitcher could get a call to help at a moment’s notice.

Irvin figures to have an edge over other less-established starters to make the Opening Day roster, which will be composed of 30 players the first two weeks of the season. He is a left-handed starter that pitched impressively out of the bullpen in September. He allowed only eight hits and one earned run in 12 1/3 innings. He struck out seven and walked three, and his fastball velocity jumped from 89.1 mph the first few months of the season to 92.9 mph in September.

Irvin said he has been throwing in the 92-93 mph range the past few months, and he knows his range because he said he already has 60 innings under his belt. He has been pitching not only to keep his arm in shape this season, but knowing that potentially pitching 100 innings this year, he will be better positioned to pitch more than that next year.

He just needs to stay healthy and on the field.

“We were all talking in the clubhouse today about do we go see fireworks or not tonight?” Irvin said, referring to the Fourth of July. “We want to make sure we’re still healthy and doing the right things to protect our teammates.”

Nola, Haseley absent from camp
Phillies right-hander Aaron Nola and center fielder Adam Haseley have not been in camp this week. Both Haseley and catcher Christian Bethancourt, a non-roster invitee who also has not reported to camp, are tending to medical conditions, Girardi said.

Girardi also announced that Didi Gregorius, Alec Bohm, Deivy Grullon and others reported to camp for the first time on Saturday.

Former Phillie Brummett dies in plane crash
Former Phillies pitcher Tyson Brummett and three others died in a plane crash on Friday morning in Utah. The Utah County Sheriff’s Office crashed near Box Elder Peak, according to reports. Brummett piloted the plane.

Brummett, 35, pitched two-thirds of an inning for the Phillies at the end of the 2012 season. It was his only appearance in the big leagues. He pitched eight seasons in the Minor Leagues, including stints with the Blue Jays' and Dodgers' organizations. The Phillies selected him in the seventh round of the 2007 MLB Draft out of UCLA.

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