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Phillies uncertain if and when Zack Wheeler may be able to return

If anyone ever writes a book about the strangest injuries in sports history, there will be an entry about Philadelphia Phillies right-hander Zack Wheeler, who is currently dealing with what appears to be a serious injury to his right middle finger.

Zack Wheeler is dealing with an injury. (John Adams/Icon Sportswire)

Since his junior year of high school, Wheeler has had to pitch through stretches of the season where his right middle finger is sore because the nail is slightly lifted. He said Friday that the nail has always been “about halfways disconnected” from his skin bed. However, the fingernail has never been in as bad of shape as it is currently.

“I was putting on my pants, and I stumbled and I lost my balance a little bit and my foot was going down…while I was pulling my pants up…and so the lip of the belt buckle area kind of just caught my nail…because my nail was already raised. It was easy just to catch it a little bit and rip it, and that’s what happened,” Wheeler said describing the incident that took place Wednesday in Miami.

Phillies manager Joe Girardi announced after Thursday evening’s loss that Wheeler was dealing with the issue, and wouldn’t pitch on Saturday, as the team had initially planned for. Girardi, clearly frustrated, said Friday afternoon that Wheeler will attempt to throw Saturday, but only if he’s able to grip the ball. Girardi and the Phillies hope that Wheeler can start the series finale on Monday, but the manager said Friday that it’s probably “wishful thinking” to believe that will come to pass.

What does Wheeler think?

“Obviously, I hope I can get back very soon,” Wheeler said. “I think it’s just going to be a day-to-day thing. We’ll see how the soreness goes…we’ll see how this thing starts healing up…that’s all I can really give you at this time.”

If Wheeler isn’t able to pitch in Monday’s series finale with the Miami Marlins, Girardi suggested that the Phillies may need someone from the satellite squad to come up and pitch. He mentioned Cole Irvin and Ramón Rosso as two arms that are stretched out currently.

The larger concern would be that there are only 18 games left in the regular season after Friday’s doubleheader. If Wheeler ultimately has to go on the injured list, it could cost him the rest of the regular season, and leave his status for the postseason, should the Phillies qualify, up in the air.

Wheeler, 30, has been excellent in his first season with the Phillies. After signing a five-year/$118 million deal with the Phillies this past offseason, Wheeler has gone 4-0 with a 2.47 ERA, 3.10 FIP and a 1.5 fWAR.


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