Phillies Notebook: Nola and Wheeler could miss first week of season

Zach Wheeler has some concerns about playing in 2020
Zach Wheeler admits it's a tough decision, but for now, he intends to participate in the 2020 season. His wife, Dominique, is pregnant with their first child and due right around Opening Day. The pregnancy puts her in a vulnerable situation, given the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s a very difficult decision," Wheeler said Sunday afternoon on a Zoom call with reporters. "It’s something that is still playing in my head. I have to be very careful here at the field, outside of the field, wherever I go. The baby’s and Dominique’s health are most important to me. So whatever I can do to make sure they are safe, that is the No. 1 goal for me. Baseball comes after that.”

Wheeler anticipates taking three days of paternity leave, but he'll need to be tested for COVID-19 and throw once or twice before he'll return to the rotation.

“It’s going to set me back a start or two, more than likely, but that’s just off the top of my head,” Wheeler said. “It’s something that we are definitely going to have to talk about it a little bit further into it and just get that figured out, ironed out.”

Nola remains absent
Aaron Nola has not yet joined camp in Philadelphia and manager Joe Girardi admits he can't speak to the right-hander's absence.

Girardi made it clear in a Zoom call on Sunday that a player missing doesn't necessarily mean the player has tested positive for COVID-19. It's possible Nola was either in contact with an infected person, is showing symptoms, or had an inconclusive test result. Given the protocols agreed to by Major League Baseball and the MLBPA, clubs are not to disclose positive COVID-19 tests.

Along with Nola, outfielder Adam Haseley, and catcher Christian Bethancourt have also been missing from camp.

Scott Kingery, Tommy Hunter, Hector Neris, and Ranger Suarez are already on the Phillies' COVID-19 IL.

COVID-19 impacts on the rotation
Given Nola's absence and Wheeler expected to miss time with the birth of his child, it's possible the Phillies enter the opening week of the season without the top two arms in the rotation.

“Oh, I think that’s possible,” Girardi said. “I think it’s unpredictable when you have a due date, exactly when it’s going to come. You’d like to say it’s going to be the 25th, if that’s the date they’re given. But we’ve all been through enough of [this] that it’s not always on the exact date that they predict. As far as Aaron, I think we have to see where he’s at when he gets back with us. There are some concerns because he’s missed the first few days and probably would have thrown a live BP at this point, or at least a couple bullpens. We’ve just got to see where he’s at.”
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BY PATRICK GORDON
Managing Editor
pgordon@philadelphiabaseballreview.com

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