A few Phillies health updates, courtesy of Matt Gelb of The Athletic:
- Shortstop Didi Gregorius left Tuesday’s game after taking an 89 mph fastball off the back of the head from Blue Jays right-hander Tanner Roark. Manager Joe Girardi said at the time that Gregorius was dealing with“a minor, minor headache” (via Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia), but he then told Gelb and other reporters that the Phillies will re-evaluate him on Friday. Going without Gregorius for any period of regular-season time would be a shot to the Phillies’ offense, as he batted .284/.339/.488 with 10 home runs in 237 appearances and appeared in all 60 of their games last year. That performance persuaded the Phillies to re-sign Gregorius to a two-year, $28MM guarantee in free agency.
- Right-hander Zach Eflin will not pitch this week because of a back injury that the Phillies are somewhat concerned about, Girardi said. Just as Gregorius is a key cog in Philadelphia’s offense, Eflin is an integral part of its rotation. The top complement to the one-two punch of Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler, Eflin is looking to build on a career year in which he logged personal-best numbers in several categories. Eflin finished 2020 with a 3.97 ERA/3.50 FIP, excellent strikeout and walk percentages (28.6 and 6.1, respectively), and a strong 47.4 percent groundball rate over 59 innings. If Eflin isn’t ready for the start of the season, it could open the door for Vince Velasquez to claim the open spot in the Phillies’ rotation, Gelb notes.
- In yet another unwelcome bit of news for Philly’s staff, righty Spencer Howard still hasn’t been cleared to throw after going down with back spasms earlier this week. The 24-year-old had been in line to compete for a spot in the club’s rotation, but that appears to be out the window for the time being. Howard, whom Baseball America ranked as the game’s 27th-best prospect in 2020, made a rocky debut last year with six starts and 24 1/3 frames of 5.92 ERA ball (with a more encouraging 4.87 SIERA). However, he did dominate the High-A and Double-A levels in 2019.