Phillies Spring Training 2024

Walker set for spring training debut; sick Phillies improving

New York Mets v Philadelphia Phillies

PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA – JUNE 23: Taijuan Walker #99 of the Philadelphia Phillies pitches during the first inning against the New York Mets at Citizens Bank Park on June 23, 2023 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

CLEARWATER, Fla. — "Big win," Rob Thomson joked after the Phillies beat the Astros, 6-3, in Friday's Grapefruit League game.

The actual win was the number of players they got back healthy for the weekend.

Taijuan Walker will start Saturday's game against the Blue Jays. He had been behind schedule after missing time for a personal reason and then experiencing right knee soreness.

Walker was initially supposed to throw live batting practice Saturday but is instead slated for two innings vs. Toronto.

"He feels so good that we're just going to put him in the game," Thomson said.

Others on the mend

An illness had spread through the Phillies' clubhouse and it seemed to be more than minor. But things appear to be looking up.

"Knock on wood, we didn't have any today," Thomson said. "Hopefully it's gone, but you never know."

Players who had been ill included Nick Castellanos, Cristopher Sanchez, Orion Kerkering, Mick Abel, David Dahl, Scott Kingery, Kody Clemens and Tyler Phillips, among others.

Kerkering was feeling better Friday and said he might pitch in a game Monday. He described being unable to do much other than rest for three days.

Sanchez and Kerkering threw "touch-and-feel" Friday, according to Thomson. Abel also threw off a bullpen mound early in the morning.

"We'll plan him out," Thomson said of Abel. The Phillies' top healthy prospect pitched a 1-2-3 inning with two strikeouts on Feb. 25, his only game action so far in camp. He was supposed to start a game last weekend but was scratched. Abel is one of 27 Phillies on the roster for their inaugural Spring Breakout game against the Tigers on March 16.

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