With less than three weeks remaining until Opening Day, the Phillies are still unsure if they will have their biggest offseason addition in the 2020 season.
According to The Athletic’s Matt Gelb, starting pitcher Zack Wheeler remains unclear about the status for the upcoming season after his first child is born.
Following today’s workout, Wheeler spoke to the collective media and mentioned that he did consider opting out of the season.
“We just have to see how things here at the field and at the stadium. I’m happy with what I see so far. But things could change, especially once our baby’s born,” Wheeler said. “I always think about what’s going on around me. Is it safe? Is it OK? Literally every single day. I have to just ask myself that. I’m going to continue to keep asking myself that every day.”
Earlier this week in a Zoom media session, Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said he did not expect anyone to opt out of the 2020 season.
When the baby arrives, Wheeler said he expects to miss at least two starts, per Gelb. If Wheeler does decide to return following the birth of his child, he will have to go through another intake process before re-joining the team under the MLB Health and Safety protocol for this year.
Losing Wheeler could be detrimental to the Phillies and the starting rotation, especially with the unknown status of when Aaron Nola will join the team. Nola is one of three players who the Phillies are keeping away from the team due to COVID-19 protocols.
Manager Joe Girardi and pitching coach Bryan Price could find themselves in a tough situation if the team’s expected one-two punch misses a considerable amount of time in what is already a shortened season.
The Phillies signed Wheeler to a five-year, $118 million contract in December.
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