PHILADELPHIA — Joe Girardi is back in Boca Raton, Fla., staying home as much as possible, trying to do his part to help flatten the curve in the COVID-19 pandemic.
He is not a Netflix or Disney+ guy, so he has been killing time watching college football reruns on TV. His wife will ask if he knows who won. Sometimes he says yes. Sometimes he says no. It doesn’t matter. He enjoys it.
“I think Pittsburgh was on against Miami of Ohio the other night, so I think I was watching that,” Girardi said. “Arkansas was playing Colorado State, so I was kind of watching that. You know, it’s kind of like watching the offseason. I’m just not watching current sports. It’s rebounding [the basketball], it’s cooking and it’s throwing BP to my son.”
Girardi, like every person in a Phillies uniform, would rather be in Clearwater, Fla., finishing up the Grapefruit League schedule. Instead, he is trying to plan for an uncertain future. Only about 20 players in Major League camp have remained in Clearwater. The others have scattered to their homes across the country and world.
“The difficult part for players is that the places they are probably used to working out are probably closed, so they’re going to have to be creative,” Girardi said. “I probably can’t go inside and throw, so what do I do? I’m not going to be around a lot of people, so what do I do? They have to be creative. The weight rooms are going to be closed. I know they are here in South Florida.
“The one thing we have done since we last talked is we have even monitored the pitching program even more, saying, ‘Look, we’re going to give you increments of two weeks of what to do,’ and my guess is we don’t want guys throwing inning bullpens. It’s more long-toss and catch and maybe some flat ground, and every two weeks we will update as we get closer, because when we do come back, we don’t know how long we’re going to go into a season. Are we going to play the whole month of October and have the playoffs start in November? Since we don’t have any of those answers, we know we’re not going back in two weeks and we know we’re not going back in four weeks, so it’s more the beginning of throwing programs with long-toss.”
The Phillies were taking close looks at Nick Pivetta, Vince Velasquez and Ranger Suárez to be the No. 5 starter. It might not matter who wins. If play does not resume in the next several weeks, the Phillies will need several multiple-inning pitchers because none of their starters will be built up to pitch six or more innings.
“We’re going to use all of them in a sense,” Girardi said.
A delayed start at least makes Girardi feel better about having Andrew McCutchen (left knee) in left field and Víctor Arano (right elbow and shoulder) and Tommy Hunter (right elbow) in the bullpen on Opening Day. (Right-hander Seranthony Domínguez is an entirely different matter. The team has made no announcement about his injured right elbow, but it might be because he is deciding his next course of action.)
“I think we kind of expected them all back in April and seeing that we will not play before May 15 or whatever, I think we all feel pretty good about that,” Girardi said. “I think it’s going to change a lot of rosters. Teams that were assuming they weren’t going to have guys back at a certain time, and these guys were going to be on the team — our evaluation that we were making on our last day in camp, it’s all going to change because of the health of players that are going to be able to come back.”
Girardi thinks the Phillies have enough depth to keep their players healthy and effective, even if they are out an extended time and are not necessarily in regular-season shape when play resumes.
“I am comfortable with the Phillies’ depth and I do think it becomes much more important, because even the building up of the position players is probably going to be a little bit different,” Girardi said. “I’ve always felt the position players could probably get it done in three to three-and-a-half weeks, but I still think you’re going to have to be somewhat cautious if you get into some long, extra-inning games early in the season."