Phillies playing it safe with injured stars Wheeler, Harper

July 11th, 2024

PHILADELPHIA -- Everybody expected an injury update on 's sore lower back on Wednesday.

Nobody expected an injury update on 's bruised left hand.

Harper did not play in Wednesday night’s 4-3 victory over the Dodgers at Citizens Bank Park because he bruised his glove hand trying to field a ground ball in the first inning of Tuesday night’s 10-1 victory over Los Angeles. Harper hit in the batting cage a few hours before the game to test his hand. It wasn’t good enough to play.

“He’s better; the swelling is down,” manager Rob Thomson said after the game. “It’s still bruised. We’ll see how he comes in [on Thursday].”

Wheeler left Tuesday night’s game following the fifth inning because of “left lower back tightness,” according to the team. He did not seem concerned after the game, although he said his back has bothered him for at least the past couple starts.

But it was enough of a concern that Wheeler had an MRI exam on Wednesday. Thomson said there is no structural damage to Wheeler’s back.

“He’s still a little sore today,” Thomson said. “We’re going to be very cautious with him.”

Wheeler is scheduled to start Sunday afternoon against the A’s in the team’s final game before the All-Star break. Thomson said the Phillies will know more on Thursday about Wheeler’s ability to pitch on Sunday. Asked about the upside of potentially pitching him on the final day before the break, Thomson said: “Just that you’ve got Zack Wheeler going out there.”

But with the ability to set the rotation how they want coming out of the break, they could mitigate the risk to Wheeler’s back by giving him a few extra days of rest.

“We’re not going to risk anything,” Thomson said. “It just happens [Wheeler’s scheduled start is] on the perfect day -- the day before the break. That way you can get all your bullpen arms to throw in the game and that way they don’t have five days off coming out of the break, but we’ll see how he is tomorrow.

“I’m not really concerned. He’s been through this before. He’s going to be fine. It’s just back spasms, really.”