NEW YORK -- Phillies right-hander Zach Eflin considered the options before the Phillies placed him on the 10-day injured list on Tuesday with patellar tendinitis in his right knee.
“Should I kind of push through it the next 13-14 starts?” he said at Yankee Stadium. “Or try to nip it in the bud this go-around and just be healthy the rest of the way through? I think that's kind of what we all agreed on.
“I’m not overly concerned about it.”
Eflin has a history of knee issues. He was placed on the injured list in August 2016 with patellar tendinopathy in both knees, and he later had surgery to repair them. Eflin has managed both knees well since surgery, although he said the right knee started to bother him in his last start on Friday against the Marlins at Citizens Bank Park.
“I think we're being proactive about it now, so that we're able to strengthen the muscles to take tension off,” Eflin said. “But it's going to be something I battle probably my whole career. For the most part, the last five years have been fine post-surgery. And this go-around, it hasn't really calmed down. It’s kind of stayed swollen. We’re just going to give it a couple extra days to get on some medication and see it go down and then get back, get moving, get my mechanics back and then go from there.
“But like I said, I'm not really worried about it. I know it's going to be fine. I can go out tomorrow and pitch on it. But the problem is not being in my normal mechanics. And then, you know, the arm compensating for other things. And I think that's kind of the worry about it. So we're just planning on missing this start and gaining some strength back and hopefully being able to go the next time around. It’s something that we think is manageable.”
The Phillies will make Wednesday a bullpen game, but they are not expected to be any more aggressive finding starting pitching before the July 30 Trade Deadline. Eflin is eligible to be activated as early as July 27.
“We feel like we can fill that short-term void pretty well,” Phillies general manager Sam Fuld said. “We’ll keep our options open, but I don’t think it changes our process as we move along.”
Bohm back Wednesday; Phillies lose 2 more to COVID-19 IL
Left-hander Bailey Falter and right-hander J.D. Hammer were placed on the COVID-19 IL on Tuesday. It is unclear how much time they will miss, but players who test positive for COVID-19 must miss at least 10 days.
The Phillies have placed six players on the COVID-19 IL in the past 10 days, including Falter twice. Right-hander Aaron Nola returned from the COVID-19 IL and started Tuesday night against the Yankees. Third baseman Alec Bohm rejoined the team and could be activated on Wednesday. Bohm, Nola, Falter and Connor Brogdon each landed on the COVID-19 IL on July 11. Bohm tested positive for the virus, while Nola, Falter and Brogdon were sidelined because of contact tracing.
The Phillies are one of a handful of teams that have not reached the 85 percent threshold of vaccinated Tier 1 individuals, which includes players and coaches. Unvaccinated players continue to be tested and monitored for contact tracing. Vaccinated players are tested only if they are symptomatic.
The concern is that as this keeps happening to the Phillies, they may miss some key players and lose some important games down the stretch as they try to make the postseason for the first time since 2011. Nola acknowledged last week that the thought has crossed the players’ minds.
“This is the reality that we’re in,” said Fuld. “It can be frustrating at times, and it’s an unfortunate situation. We just have to do the best that we can and rely on depth. Every year is a test of depth, but it feels like [this one] more than ever, now. We continue to chip away and make progress towards upping our vaccination rate, and that continues to be a conversation with players and staff. We’ve made progress, and we’re hopeful that we continue to make progress.”
The Phillies have tried to educate players in Philadelphia and at Triple-A Lehigh Valley about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine.
“From our medical staff, outside resources, we’ve enlisted help from the league,” Fuld said. “We’ve done a lot. Certainly, we’ve made efforts. We’re limited to what exactly we can do, but we've certainly made a lot of effort to educate and treat every guy and person on an individual level. Just have conversations and not necessarily have it be one-sided. Everyone has their own unique situations, and we have to respect that. We’ve done a lot.
“Nothing has changed on our end that we believe in the science behind it. We believe that it’s effective and safe, and we’ll continue to be here as a resource and answer questions. We are making progress. Our vaccination rate has not plateaued or flat-lined.”
The Phillies recalled right-hander Mauricio Llovera and outfielder Mickey Moniak from Triple-A Lehigh Valley to take the place of Falter and Hammer on the 26-man roster.