Wheeler injures fingernail getting dressed

Phils bring up Torreyes, DFA veteran Walker

September 12th, 2020

In the midst of a nail-biting playoff push, the Phillies are trying to save the middle fingernail on ’s throwing hand so that he can pitch again this season.

Wheeler lost his balance while putting on his jeans Wednesday night, and the nail caught the lip of the belt buckle area and partially lifted off the nail bed, causing blood and soreness. The Phillies’ training staff reached out to specialists in an effort to prevent Wheeler from losing the nail.

“It really depends on how it responds to treatment and the soreness and what happens to the nail,” Phillies manager Joe Girardi said. “We’ve talked to hand people and surgeons to try to figure out what the best course is to try to save the nail and get rid of the inflammation and pain as soon as possible.”

Girardi added after Friday’s doubleheader split with the Marlins that Wheeler had “a good day” in terms of responding to treatment.

Wheeler said he has dealt with an issue in which the fingernail becomes partially disconnected from the nail bed due to his pitch grip virtually every year since his junior year of high school. He has seen specialists, used nail hardener to prevent cracking and basically learned to manage the discomfort over the years.

“I’ve had a couple close calls where it almost got caught on things,” he said. “The other day it finally happened.”

Signed to a five-year, $118 million deal last winter, Wheeler was the shining jewel of the Phillies’ offseason, and he has delivered in the shortened season. He’s 4-0 with a 2.47 ERA and a 190 adjusted ERA+ (or 90% better than league average). Per FanGraphs’ WAR tally (1.5), he has been the 13th-most valuable qualified pitcher in the Majors.

“He's pitched as well as anyone we have,” Girardi said. “Him and [Aaron] Nola have been at the top there. They’ve been a great combination. Those guys aren’t replaceable.”

With the Phillies in the thick of the National League East playoff race, several more doubleheaders on the docket and the bullpen carrying the highest relief ERA in MLB, Wheeler’s importance to the effort cannot be overstated.

“It really killed me inside,” he said of the injury. “There’s nothing much I can do about it, but that’s literally the first thing I thought about was, ‘Wow, I just let these guys down, and that stinks.’”

Wheeler could not offer any guesses as to his status.

“I’m going to do everything possible to pitch this year,” he said. “Honestly, I don’t know. I guess we’ll wait and see. My goal is to get out there as soon as I possibly can. Whether it hurts a little bit or isn’t all the way healed doesn’t matter. My goal is to get out there and pitch.”

Torreyes up, Walker out
In advance of Friday’s doubleheader with the Marlins, the Phillies selected the contract of infielder from the alternate training site in Lehigh Valley and reinstated left-hander from the 10-day injured list . Additionally, right-hander was added as the 29th man for the doubleheader.

Philly took Game 1, 11-0, and Torreyes went 0-for-1 after entering in the fifth as a defensive replacement for Jean Segura. He started at shortstop in the Game 2 loss, doubling and scoring a run in the fifth.

Torreyes’ arrival came at the expense of infielder Neil Walker, who was designated for assignment. Girardi said with Roman Quinn still on the seven-day IL as part of concussion protocol (along with Jay Bruce on the shelf with a left quadriceps injury), Torreyes’ positional flexibility was needed.

“Roman did not have a great day [Thursday], but he had a good day [Friday], so we think we’re back on course,” Girardi said. “But with concussions, you just don’t know. Torreyes played the outfield down there, he can play the infield. I feel comfortable playing him anywhere, and that’s why we made the swap.”

Torreyes, who played for Girardi in New York, played just seven games at the big league level last year with the Twins, for whom he had a .423 OPS in 17 plate appearances.

The veteran Walker was originally signed to a Minor League deal and made the opening roster out of Summer Camp. But with the Phillies’ schedule jumbled by COVID protocols, he didn’t get many opportunities early, and he slashed .231/.244/.308 in 41 plate appearances.