4:03pm: These four players were indeed placed on the COVID-19 injured list, per Matt Breen of the Philadelphia Inquirer (via Twitter). That does not necessarily mean that the players have tested positive for the virus; the list also houses players that have shown symptoms consistent with infection or that have had contact with someone else that is infected.
1:54pm: The Phillies appear to have placed four players on the 10-day injured list. While the team has yet to make a formal announcement, the MLB.com transactions page indicates that Scott Kingery, Hector Neris, Tommy Hunter and Ranger Suarez have all been placed on the IL. No reason was listed.
Given the lack of a formal announcement and the lack of specified injuries, there’s bound to be speculation about COVID-19 among these four players. The league has already made clear that teams will not be required to name players who go on the injured list for COVID-19 reasons. In a statement to ESPN’s Marly Rivera yesterday, MLB offered the following:
Because COVID-19 is not considered an employment-related injury, we will respect the privacy of the players who test positive or who are under evaluation, and we will defer to their wishes regarding public updates about their status. Without their voluntary permission, we will not disclose any COVID-19 related information.
It should be emphasized that a player does not need to test positive for the virus to be placed on the IL for COVID-19. Players exhibiting symptoms and those who have come into contact with people who’ve tested positive can also be placed on the IL for precautionary reasons. Once on the IL for a positive COVID-19 test or for symptoms/contact reasons, a player will need to twice test negative in order to be reinstated.
Additional context may eventually come to light, but for now we know that the Phillies have several key players sidelined until at least the end of next week (the IL placements are retroactive to June 30). Kingery is expected to fill an everyday role in the infield this year, although his superlative defensive skills would allow skipper Joe Girardi to plug him virtually anywhere on the diamond while providing solid glovework. Neris entered the season as the clear closer in Philadelphia, and the veteran Hunter would’ve filled a setup role. Suarez gave the Phils 48 2/3 frames of 3.14 ERA out of the bullpen last year and had positioned himself as an important member of the staff as well.
An extended absence for Kingery could conceivably open the door for top third base prospect Alec Bohm (with Jean Segura manning second base). Non-roster veterans like Neil Walker, Logan Forsythe and Josh Harrison are also in the Phillies’ 60-man player pool. Absent the three arms that were placed on the IL, an already injury-plagued bullpen would become even more problematic. It’s not clear who’d step into the ninth inning should Neris be unavailable, but the trio of Neris, Suarez and Hunter could all play vital late-inning roles in 2020, health permitting.