Tag Archives: Tommy Hunter

Phillies add Rhys Hoskins to spring injuries list

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Rhys Hoskins and Roman Quinn both battling spring injuries

The Philadelphia Phillies are scheduled to begin a highly-anticipated 2019 regular season one week from tomorrow. Including the Wednesday afternoon game in Clearwater against the Detroit Tigers there are just six game dates remaining on the Grapefruit League schedule. Two of those will be split-squad affairs.

Opportunities for the players to experience game conditions prior to Opening Day are dwindling quickly. With that in mind there are a number of Phillies players still battling injury issues which will hinder their ability to participate.
Scott Lauber of Philly.com noted this morning that first baseman Rhys Hoskins is suffering from a sore shoulder. He is being held out of game action at least through Friday, but at this point it is believed that he will be in the lineup against the Atlanta Braves on March 28 at Citizens Bank Park. He still hopes to be able to play in a couple of spring training games before then.
Lauber further noted that the Phillies would move starting third baseman Maikel Franco over to first base on Friday, and that Franco would cover the position if a longer term need were to arise. The Phillies would play Scott Kingery at the hot corner in such a scenario.
Jerad Eickhoff has returned to the mound following off-season carpal tunnel surgery. He should start at Triple-A. (D. Benjamin Miller/WikiCommons)
Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reported on Tuesday that both Roman Quinn and Tommy Hunter would likely open the season on the Injured List. Quinn suffered an oblique strain back in late February and has appeared in just one game down in Florida. Hunter was shut down at around the same time with a strain in the flexor muscle of his right pitching arm.
Also on the mound, Jerad Eickhoff underwent carpal tunnel syndrome surgery back in October. The right-hander had experienced some recurring symptoms in January which slowed his entry to spring games.

Eickhoff has now made two starts and is on track to open the season as part of the Triple-A Lehigh Valley starting rotation. As long as he remains healthy, he would likely be the first pitcher to be re-called should a need arise in the Phillies rotation.

Bryce Harper returned to the lineup as the Designated Hitter during Sunday’s game against the New York Yankees. This was following the ugly incident in which he took a fastball directly off the ankle last Friday. Thankfully, x-rays were negative. He did not make the trip east to begin this week, but is back in right field on Wednesday and will be ready to go for Opening Day.

The Phillies got Odubel Herrera into a Grapefruit League lineup for the first time over this past weekend. He served as the DH on Saturday and then started in center field on both Sunday and Monday. Herrera had strained a hamstring during a mid-February baserunning drill.
Cesar Hernandez returned to the lineup late last week after being out since late February after suffering a right hip flexor strain while running the bases in an early spring game.
Hoskins is the one injury to really watch for over the next four-to-five days. He is a key piece to the Phillies offensive attack and the club would really like to get him back into the lineup for a couple of games before Opening Day.

Injuries continue to rise at 2019 Phillies spring training

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Hernandez joins a growing list of Phillies hurt in Clearwater

Barely two weeks into spring training and players are dropping like flies with the Philadelphia Phillies. Already down two position players and a pitcher over this past week, the injury ranks grew by one more today.

It was announced this morning that second baseman Cesar Hernandez suffered what was described by Todd Zolecki of MLB.com as a “Grade 1 right hip flexor strain” while running the bases during Wednesday’s 4-2 loss to the Minnesota Twins in Clearwater.
Per the Summit Medical Group: “A hip flexor strain is a stretch or tear of a muscle in your hip. You use the hip flexor muscles when you flex or lift your knee, do high kicks, or bend at the waist.
The injury presents with pain in the area where your thigh meets your hip. Treatments requires that an athlete such as Hernandez cease all activities that cause the pain. In his case that would be pretty much every baseball activity.
Per Zolecki there is no timetable for his return. Assuming Hernandez injury actually is a Grade 1, that is the mildest version. However, these types of injuries normally take a few weeks to fully heal. Rushing back could only cause a recurrence and worsening. In the worse case these injuries can take six weeks or more.

For a player whose speed and ability to pivot and otherwise move around the second base position, this is certainly a setback. This could well open an oppportunity for soon-to-be 25-year-old Scott Kingery to get most of the playing time at the Keystone position in the coming weeks, and to wrestle away the starting job.
Hernandez turns 29-years-old in May. He is signed for this coming season at $7.75 million, and would again be eligible for arbitration next winter. He can then become a free agent following the 2020 campaign.
The native of Venezuela has six years of big-league experience, all with the Phillies. He has a career .276/.357/.374 slash line and last season produced career highs with 15 homers, 60 RBI and 91 runs scored and tied a career-high with 19 stolen bases.
However, those totals also came in a career-high 708 plate appearances. His batting average dropped more than 40 points to the .253 mark, the lowest of his full seasons. Hernandez produced eight fewer extra-base hits than the previous season when he had 131 fewer plate appearances.
Hernandez was particularly ineffective as the Phillies collapsed over the last couple months of the 2018 season. From July 30 onward he slashed just .220/.321/.332 with nine extra-base hits over his final 250 plate appearances.
The Phillies had previously lost center fielders Odubel Herrera and Roman Quinn and reliever Tommy Hunter to injuries that will also leave each of them out for an indeterminate period of time. The club has to hope this situation halts quickly as their depth is going to be tested sorely as things already stand.

Phillies lose reliever Tommy Hunter as first pitching injury of 2019

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Hunter becomes the first arm to go down in spring training

When objectively evaluating the Philadelphia Phillies 2019 roster for potential strengths and weaknesses, the bullpen would have to be listed on the “strengths” side of the ledger.

The addition of a few talented veterans this off-season to a solid returning group and some growing young arms has the pen looking stronger and deeper than it has in years.
Now less than two weeks into 2019 spring training that bullpen depth will begin to be tested. It’s first member has gone down due to injury. Tommy Hunter will be shut down for in indeterminate amount of time with a Grade 1 strain of the flexor muscle in his right pitching arm.
The flexor mass is a collection of muscles and tendons which come together in the forearm near the elbow. They function by allowing you to turn and flex your wrist. The injury as it affects a pitcher such as Hunter is described as follows by Robert G. Najarian, MD with Inova:
With flexor mass strains, pitchers usually don’t feel pain until the follow-through phase of the pitch. That’s when you need the flexor mass to snap the wrist to get the ball in the strike zone. When the flexor mass is injured, the ball often ends high and pitchers can have problems locating their pitch.
In general, Najarian states, the injury is treated with rest, anti-inflammatories, and a strength/rehabilitation program. Some players are out for just two weeks. For others the recovery can take as long as six to eight weeks. It all depends upon the severity of the injury and the individual player’s ability to recuperate.
The hope is that the Phillies and Hunter caught the injury early enough that this method of recovery will do the job. If such an injury is allowed to go untreated for too long, it could result in ligament damage and possibly the dreaded Tommy John surgery.
Hunter was signed by the Phillies as a free agent in December 2017 to a two-year, $18 million contract. The 32-year-old, 11-year veteran will not throw for two weeks and then will be re-evaluated.

The Phillies bullpen ranked around the middle of baseball last season. The club’s relievers as a group ranked 18th in ERA and BAA, 10th in K/9, and 11th in saves and K/BB among the 30 teams of Major League Baseball.
Hunter was likely going to be called upon by manager Gabe Kapler in the 5th-7th innings. He is one of a strong group of right-handed relievers that also includes David RobertsonPat NeshekHector NerisSeranthony DominguezJuan NicasioEdubray Ramos, and Victor Arano.
Teams usually lose players at some point during the spring training process. But this marks the second injury to a player who was expected to make-up part of the Opening Day roster. Outfielder Odubel Herrera was lost for an undetermined length of time with a hamstring injurylast week.
There is enough roster depth to cover for the loss of Herrera and Hunter at this point. The hope is that these are the most significant injuries that the Phillies have to deal with as they prepare for what is hoped to be a playoff-contending campaign.

Phillies 2019 bullpen just one piece short of elite status

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Juan Nicasio brings a veteran presence to deeper Phillies bullpen

Philadelphia Phillies general manager Matt Klentak had four major boxes that needed to be checked off when this off-season began if he wanted to truly build a contending team for the 2019 season.

Those four were a proven impact run-producer for the middle of the batting order, a better defensive lineup, another veteran starting pitcher (preferably left-handed), and improvements to the bullpen.
With the additions of Andrew McCutchen in left field and Jean Segura at shortstop, the defense should be improved. The club continues to search for the middle-order bat and the southpaw rotation arm.
It cannot be argued that Klentak has not improved the bullpen. Given health, the Phillies relief corps is both talented and deep, and should prove to be a strength for manager Gabe Kapler.
The Phillies have added three new arms to their bullpen. Right-hander Juan Nicasio and left-hander James Pazos arrived as part of the Segura trade from Seattle. Then just days ago the club signed one of baseball’s top relievers over the past decade, David Robertson, as a free agent.

Those three join a returning group that could include any from among righties Hector NerisSeranthony DominguezPat NeshekTommy HunterVictor Arano, and Edubray Ramos. There are two returning lefties in Adam Morgan and Austin Davis as well.
The Phillies could still use a better situational left-handed arm. But a closer look at the statistics shows that the arms needed to win match-ups with big lefty bats may already be here.
Robertson had a 53/10 K:BB ratio against left-handed hitters a year ago. Those opposing lefty batters hit the right-handed Robertson for just a .176 BAA as well as a .378 slugging percentage.
The one negative for Robertson against those lefties was that they got to him for a half-dozen home runs over 132 plate appearances against him. In comparison, he surrendered just one long ball to a right-handed batter over 151 plate appearances against.
During his breakthrough rookie campaign a year ago, lefty batters hit for just a .188 average against Dominguez. His biggest problem with them were walks, as Dominguez handed out 14 free passes to lefties in 116 plate appearances. Compare that to just eight right-handers that he walked over 115 plate appearances.

Ramos also had decent success against left-handed hitters, holding them to a .208 batting average against. Over 58 plate appearances those lefties got to Ramos for just two homers over 58 plate appearances, and he walked just five opposing hitters.
The three primary left-handed relief options at the present time are newcomer Pazos and returnees Morgan and Davis. All three of those southpaw pitchers actually achieved far greater success against right-handed hitters.
Against lefty bats, the Pazos/Morgan/Davis trio allowed 66 hits and walked 26 batters over 273 plate appearances when facing opposition left-handed hitters. Pazos got hit too regularly (.288 BAA) by lefties. Davis was hit hard (.603 slugging percentage) by them. Morgan had severe control issues against them, walking 14 over 121 plate appearances.
I am going to assume that Kapler, Klentak and the Phillies coaching regime are aware of their left-handers’ numbers. My hope is that they won’t simply bring in a lefty arm to face a lefty bat every time. They’ll break down the numbers even further would be my guess, seeing how a particular lefty batter fares against left-handed pitching, for instance.

Klentak is likely not done dealing. There is already a glut of outfielders with McCutchen joining Nick WilliamsRoman QuinnOdubel Herrera, and Aaron Altherr. If the Phillies were to sign Bryce Harper, that glut gets even worse.
If the Phillies were successful in signing Manny Machado, that would create a similar glut on the infield. He and Segura would join Cesar HernandezMaikel Franco, and Scott Kingery.
If Machado signs, plays shortstop, and Segura plays second, then Hernandez is likely trade bait. If it’s Machado at third and Segura at short, then Franco likely becomes the trade bait.
Bottom line is that Klentak is likely to shop every outfielder not named McCutchen, along with either Hernandez or Franco or both, depending on the outcome of the Harper/Machado situations.
Klentak also could be shopping any of the starting pitchers except Aaron Nola or Jake Arrieta. In a trade return the Phillies GM is likely to be looking for an impact left-handed pitcher for either the rotation or the bullpen.
The Phillies bullpen is now noticeably improved. The overall mix could still use that one more piece of a dominant late-innings left-hander. But as of today, the Phillies relief corps is deeper, more talented, and more experienced.

Originally published at Phillies Nation as Relief pitching additions give Phillies a stronger, deeper bullpen

Relievers Tommy Hunter and Pat Neshek being shopped by Phillies

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Tommy Hunter now among those reportedly being shopped by the Phillies

The MLB Hot Stove season is in full swing as the Thanksgiving holiday approaches. The Philadelphia Phillies appear to be involved in a new rumor every single day, and today is no different.

Last week’s hot rumor was that the club was “shopping the hell” out of first baseman Carlos Santana. Now comes word that the Phillies have two more of the veteran free agents signed last off-season, relievers Pat Neshek and Tommy Hunter, on the trade blocks.
A 38-year-old right-hander who brings a dozen years of experience in Major League Baseball with a half-dozen different organizations, Neshek first came to the Phillies in a November 2016 trade with the Houston Astros.
Neshek was flipped at the 2017 non-waiver trade deadline to the Colorado Rockies in exchange for a trio of prospects led by infielder Jose Gomez, who now ranks #16 on MLB.com’s top Phillies prospectslist. Neshek became a free agent that fall and re-signed with the Phillies on December 15, 2017.

Hunter is a 32-year-old right-hander who has also pitched with a half-dozen different MLB organizations across his 11-year big-league career. He signed with the Phillies as a free agent the same day as Neshek last December.
Neshek is owed $7.75 million for next season with a $7 million team option for 2020. There is also a $750k club buyout for that season. Hunter has $9 million owed to him next year and then he will become a free agent.
The first word that the two relievers were being shopped around came today via Jon Heyman on Twitter:
phillies not only have carlos santana on the block, as @Ken_Rosenthal said but also tommy hunter and pat neshek. the relievers had solid years, but with so many quality bullpen arms on the free agent market, timing for trades may not be easy

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The Phillies wouldn’t mind having either reliever return to the team in the 2019 season. Each had a solid year with the club in 2018 and could be expected to continue providing solid experience and results next year.
However, the free agent market is flooded with relief pitchers in this current off-season. If the Phillies could get a team or teams to take on the nearly $17 million owed to the two veterans for 2019, they would likely be able to sign a couple of new free agents at an even better price who could provide similar results.
Among the more attractive arms on the market are Craig KimbrelAndrew MillerZach BrittonAdam OttavinoKelvin Herrera, and Joakim Soria. Some of those pitchers would be expensive. But there are deals to be had among some three dozen available and experienced relief pitchers.

Of course, therein lies the rub. Any potential trade partner could also sign a more affordable free agent from among the many available options. The Phillies would likely have to either eat some of the salary or toss in a prospect to get a deal done.