Jose Alvarado throws bullpen session, nears rehab assignment

Boston Red Sox v Philadelphia Phillies

PHILADELPHIA, PA – MAY 7: Jose Alvarado #46 of the Philadelphia Phillies throws a pitch against the Boston Red Sox at Citizens Bank Park on May 7, 2023 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Phillies defeated the Red Sox 6-1. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

Jose Alvarado was eligible to be activated from the injured list Tuesday but the Phillies' top reliever will remain out for at least another week.

Alvarado is making progress, though. He threw off of flat ground on Monday and is scheduled to throw a bullpen session on Wednesday. If it goes well, the next steps would be a second bullpen session this weekend, then facing hitters in live batting practice and eventually going out on a minor-league rehab assignment. The Phillies haven't said how many rehab appearances Alvarado will need, just that he'll require one after going weeks without pitching in a live setting.

The lefty, who turned 28 over the weekend, was sidelined on May 9 with left elbow inflammation, a day after experiencing wrist soreness in pregame warmups. He went for an MRI that revealed elbow inflammation was the cause of the discomfort in the wrist.

The Phillies' plan is to handle Alvarado with care. He's become such an integral part of their success. He has a 0.63 ERA in 14 appearances this season with 24 strikeouts and no walks. The only earned run he's allowed was a Jorge Soler solo home run in one of the rare instances manager Rob Thomson sent Alvarado out for a second inning of work, specifically to face Marlins on-deck hitter Luis Arraez, who hit for the cycle the night before.

That was the Phils' only NL East series of the season to this point. They have three more coming up after the Diamondbacks -- a four-game series in Atlanta, three with the Mets at Citi Field, then three in Washington D.C. It is unclear whether Alvarado will be back during that 11-day, 10-game road trip but the bullpen could sure use him.

"He's going to have to have at least one BP session, maybe two, and then we don't know how many rehab outings," Thomson said Monday.

The Phillies have had just three save situations since Alvarado went down. Craig Kimbrel closed out a three-run win over the Rockies on May 12 and gave up a solo homer but saved a 2-1 game on Sunday against the Cubs. He is one save away from 400 for his career, a mark only seven others have reached and no other active player is close to, with only Edwin Diaz (205) appearing to have an outside shot. Kenley Jansen picked up his 400th earlier this month.

The Phils' other save in the last two weeks went to Gregory Soto, the No. 2 lefty in the bullpen who is temporarily filling the left-handed portion of the closer's role that Alvarado occupied.

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