Phillies News

Phillies faced with unfortunate trend of hamstring injuries this season

The Phillies have been the best team in baseball but have had to work through player injuries, specifically strained hamstrings.

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When Bryce Harper came up limping while running out a grounder against the Marlins on Thursday night, he became the third Phillies position player this season to go on the injured list with a strained hamstring.

Shortstop Trea Turner missed six weeks and outfielder Brandon Marsh 10 days earlier in the year, also with pulled hammies.

The early indication is that Harper should be back sooner rather than later, but it still raises the question of whether there’s anything the team can do to avoid this and similar injuries; Kyle Schwarber is also out with a strained groin.

“We do postmortems on everything,” manager Rob Thomson said before Saturday’s game against the Marlins. “They (athletic trainers) do it. I do it myself. I go back and look at all my paperwork. OK, have I messed up here? Have I played them too many days in a row? Or didn’t give them enough DH days? Whatever it is. We’re always checking on ourselves to make sure we’re doing what’s right, and if we have to make adjustments, we do.

“At this point, I think it’s just a coincidence. But they’re still grinding away at it.”

With all the modern science available, and the huge financial investments involved, teams try to be hypervigilant when it comes to trying to keep players on the field.

For example, lefthanders Cristopher Sánchez and Ranger Suárez are both on track to rack up heavier workloads than they have in the past. As a result, the team is keeping a close eye on advanced metrics such as extension and spin rate, in addition to velocity, to detect any early warning signs that they might be starting to wear down.

“I’m a little. . . I’m not worried (about them), but it’s in the back of my mind all the time,” Thomson said. “So far all the indicators are good and we’ll keep an eye on that. If we have to pull back, we will.”

ON THE BUMP: Marlins RHP Yonny Chirinos (0-2, 2.70) will face LHP Ranger Suárez (10-2, 2.01) in the series finale Sunday at 1:35 p.m.

After an off day, the Phillies go back on the road beginning a three-game series against the Cubs with RHP Michael Mercado, RHP Zack Wheeler and LHP Cristopher Sánchez lined up to pitch on Chicago’s North Side.

It will be the first big league start for the 25-year-old Mercado, who made his Major League debut with one relief inning at Detroit on June 24. “I think he’s pretty poised. But this will be a big start for him,” Rob Thomson said. “Wrigley Field. I’m sure his parents will be flying in. So we’ll see how he reacts.”

In 14 games for the IronPigs, 10 of them starts, had a 1.71 earned run average. He’ll be on a limit of about 90 pitches.

Thomson was asked if he’d considered flip-flopping Wheeler and Mercado, which would have allowed Aaron Nola, Suárez and Wheeler to pitch against the division rival Braves next weekend in Atlanta. “Yes, but because of the 115 pitches (thrown by Wheeler on Thursday) and the complete game (by Sánchez on Friday), I think it’s just smarter to take care of those guys and give them an extra day,” he explained.

NOTES OF A SCORECARD: The Phillies have used three different designated hitters – Trea Turner, Nick Castellanos, Alec Bohm – in the last three games and Rob Thomson said a modified version will likely continue even after Kyle Schwarber (strained groin) returns from the IL. The manager said it’s “huge” to get some of the other position players what he calls “half-days off” and that he won’t hesitate to use Schwarber in left in those situations.”

Righthanded reliever Luis Ortiz will undergo Tommy John surgery on July 11. He was removed from his rehab assignment with Triple-A Lehigh Valley on June 18 with forearm tightness. He opened the season on the IL with a sprained ankle, then was shut down with shoulder soreness in his first attempt to come back.

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