A week ago, it appeared that J.T. Realmuto was on pace to lead off for the Philadelphia Phillies in their March 26 Opening Day tilt in Miami.
A lot has changed in the last week.
Last Thursday, COVID-19 forced MLB to suspend Spring Training and delay Opening Day, which had been scheduled to be on March 26, by at least two weeks. Monday, commissioner Rob Manfred acknowledged that April 9, two weeks after March 26, will not be Opening Day either. Bob Nightengale of USA Today said Monday that there are some general managers that think the start of the regular season could be pushed all the way back to July.
One effect of the delay in the start of Opening Day is that it appears increasingly likely that Andrew McCutchen will be ready whenever the 2020 season ultimately begins.
In late February, manager Joe Girardi said that McCutchen wouldn’t be ready for Opening Day, when it appeared Opening Day would be on March 26. Monday, McCutchen took to Twitter to suggest that COVID-19 had other plans:
McCutchen tore his ACL in early June last year during a game in San Diego. In February, Girardi told the collective media, including Matt Gelb of The Athletic, that the expectation still was that McCutchen would be ready to play at some point in April. At this stage, it doesn’t even appear that part two of Spring Training will be started in April.
Getting McCutchen back, likely at the top of the order, would be a massive development for the Phillies. After signing a three-year/$50 million deal with the Phillies, McCutchen got off to an impressive start to his time in red pinstripes a year ago before suffering a season-ending injury. In his first at-bat as a Phillie, the five-time All-Star launched a 465-foot home run into the left-center field stands at Citizens Bank Park. Through 59 games in the 2019 season, McCutchen, now 33, was slashing .256/.378/.457 with 10 home runs, 29 RBIs, 43 walks and a 1.5 fWAR.
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