Cardinals place Felipe Lopez on DL with elbow injury

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Felipe Lopez pitching.jpgThe Cardinals have placed infielder Felipe Lopez on the 15-day disabled list with a Grade 1 strain of his right elbow, according to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Lopez had been sidelined since last week due to discomfort in the elbow, but it’s amazing how much this has flown under the radar considering that he threw 21 pitches in the 20-inning marathon against the Mets last Saturday.

It’s only natural that some will assume there’s some sort of connection between the two, but Tony La Russa tells Goold that he doesn’t believe that’s the case.

“I don’t think so,” La Russa said. “If you looked at his throws (from the
mound) they were less stressful than from shortstop or third base.

In fact, according to what LaRussa told Matthew Leach of MLB.com, Lopez felt discomfort in his elbow as early as April 11 — nearly a week before he pitched against the Mets — but he didn’t notify the team about the problem until two days later.

I really want to hop on my soapbox and call Lopez a bonehead here — remember, he even threw a couple curveballs on the bad elbow, as entertaining as it was — but it’s really hard to say that whatever soreness or discomfort he was feeling on April 11 didn’t feel any different than normal soreness that a player deals with throughout the course of a season. It’s a fine line. So while I won’t call Lopez a reckless jerk here, you can bet that La Russa will think twice — or at least ask the proper questions — before allowing a position player to pitch again.

There was another miscommunication between the Phillies and Pat Neshek

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Back in June 2017, then-manager of the Phillies Pete Mackanin and reliever Pat Neshek had some miscommunication. In a series against the Cardinals, Neshek worked a five-pitch eighth inning and it was believed he would come back out for the ninth inning, but he never did. Mackanin said Neshek said he didn’t want to pitch another inning. Neshek said he was never asked. There was also some miscommunication the game prior. Neshek thought he had the day off; Mackanin said Neshek said he wasn’t available to pitch.

Mackanin is no longer the Phillies’ manager, but the miscommunication between Neshek and the team apparently persist. Neshek was notably absent during the Phillies’ hard-fought 5-4 win over the Cubs on Monday night. The game featured a struggling Seranthony Domínguez pitching two innings, yielding three crucial runs in his second inning of work.

Manager Gabe Kapler called the bullpen and instructed Neshek to begin warming up to prepare to face Albert Almora, Matt Breen of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Kapler rang the bullpen after Domínguez walked Jason Heyward, who batted ahead of Almora. Neshek wasn’t warmed up yet. Domínguez was able to retire Almora on a sacrifice bunt, which was reviewed and gave Neshek some extra time to get ready. He was ready for the next batter, Daniel Descalso, but at this point Kapler no longer wanted to bring Neshek into the game. Descalso lined a triple to left-center field, scoring two runs and came home himself when shortstop Jean Segura‘s throw caromed off of his foot out of play.

Recounting the situation, Neshek said, “I got on the mound and threw two pitches. [Kapler] said, ‘Is he ready?’ And I said, ‘No. I’m not ready yet. I’ve thrown two pitches.” Neshek was asked how long it takes him to get ready. The veteran said, “A minute. Not 20 seconds. I’m, like, the best in the league at getting ready. My whole career has been coming in like that.”

The Phillies were able to eke out a 5-4 win. Had they lost the game, Kapler and Neshek would likely have been under the microscope for the awkward situation leading to a crushing defeat. Kapler drew plenty of criticism over his bullpen management last year in his rookie managerial season. That included bringing in lefty reliever Hoby Milner into a game in which he hadn’t yet warmed up.

Maybe it’s just a coincidence that the manager who struggled with bullpen management last year nearly mucked up a win last night, and maybe it’s just a coincidence that a reliever who’s had prior issues with communication had another communication mix-up. Maybe it’s not. It’s worth noting that the Phillies needed three innings from the bullpen to protect a 2-1 lead over the Cubs on Tuesday. Kapler called on rookie Edgar Garcia for two outs, lefty José Álvarez for four, and then brought in Juan Nicasio to close things out in the ninth. No Neshek, even as Nicasio got into trouble. Nicasio would surrender the tying and go-ahead runs, resulting in a deflating 3-2 loss.