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Notes: Eflin feels ready; time off helps 'Larry'

@ToddZolecki
July 12, 2020

PHILADELPHIA -- Phillies right-hander Zach Eflin said his back should be fine. Monday could prove it. Eflin is the Phillies’ presumed No. 4 starter. His lower back locked up on him early last week, which resulted in spasms. He has not thrown off a mound since, although he will throw

PHILADELPHIA -- Phillies right-hander Zach Eflin said his back should be fine. Monday could prove it.

Eflin is the Phillies’ presumed No. 4 starter. His lower back locked up on him early last week, which resulted in spasms. He has not thrown off a mound since, although he will throw a bullpen session Monday. If he feels OK on Tuesday, he could have enough time to get ready for the beginning of the season.

Fortunately for him, his turn in the rotation might not come until July 27 against the Yankees at Citizens Bank Park. It gives him more time.

“I don’t think I’ve lost any ground to be honest with you,” Eflin said before Sunday night’s scrimmage at Citizens Bank Park. “I threw bullpens twice a week through the whole quarantine and stayed in shape and stayed ready. I’ve already thrown to hitters since I’ve been here in Philly. I’ve missed the past five days, but I’ve still been able to throw three or four days of that. The arm’s still conditioned, and everything’s feeling better so I don’t think it’s a setback whatsoever. Whenever my name’s called, I’m going to be ready to go and throw as long as I can. There’s not any worry there.”

Uncle Larry
Andrew McCutchen created an alter ego for social media called Uncle Larry, which started after Philadelphia broadcaster Howard Eskin mistakenly called him Lawrence McCutcheon in a tweet during Spring Training.

McCutcheon, 70, is the former Rams running back from the 1970s.

McCutchen, 33, ran with it. A few “Uncle Larry” T-shirts popped up at Citizens Bank Park during workouts this summer. In a sign of the times, there are “Uncle Larry” masks, too.

“I have an Uncle Larry mask,” McCutchen said. “But I haven’t worn it. I got one.”

McCutchen 'all about' creating positive change

McCutchen would have opened the season on the injured list because he still needed time to recover from ACL surgery on his left knee. But now that Opening Day is July 24, he is expected to be in left field.

“The time off for me was definitely a good thing,” he said. “I was able to really get the work in I needed to get in and not rush through my work just trying to get back. Because ultimately that’s probably what would have happened had we not had this pandemic and the shutdown. I did everything I needed to do and more. Now it’s just about getting the game reps. Having my body get used to that, adjusting to that and just playing.”

Segura at second but will play third
Phillies manager Joe Girardi started Jean Segura at second base in Sunday’s scrimmage, but nothing should be read into that. Girardi wanted to get players like Alec Bohm and others time at third.

Second baseman Scott Kingery is back in camp following a month-long bout with COVID-19. There is a chance he will be ready by Opening Day. If not, Segura is expected to play third base and a host of candidates, including Neil Walker, Josh Harrison and Logan Forsythe, could handle the role at second.

Thomson returns
Bench coach Rob Thomson rejoined the team this weekend. He had been out since testing positive for COVID-19 last month during an outbreak at the team’s facilities in Clearwater, Fla.

Thomson said he considers himself lucky: He suffered from extreme body aches for about 10 days, and a slight fever for a few hours followed.

“I was surprised, because in my estimation we were doing everything we could to stay separated and distanced, bringing people in at different times [to work out],” Thomson said. “But you still have to get gas. You still have to go the grocery store. So I’m not really sure where we got it. The biggest thing I got out of it was how easy it is to get it, how quickly it travels. And for me it took over three weeks to get rid of it.”

Extra bases
• Closer Hector Neris threw a live BP session. Girardi thought he had “pretty good” command. Neris will throw again Wednesday.

• Right-hander Enyel De Los Santos’ fastball touched 95 mph in the scrimmage. He will be stretched out in the event a starter is lost to COVID-19.

“He threw the ball really well,” Girardi said. “[His fastball] got on people. It was sneaky. He got a lot of ground-ball outs.”

• Aaron Nola will pitch three innings in Monday’s scrimmage. Right-hander Reggie McClain and lefty Cole Irvin also are scheduled to pitch.

• Right-hander Victor Arano will throw a BP session Monday. He is behind schedule but healthy, after missing time this spring with a shoulder injury.

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