Pete Mackanin said it is is “hard to say” if Vince Velasquez will return this season after the Phillies placed him on the disabled list on Friday with a mysterious bruise on his right middle finger. The pitcher is a bit more confident.
“I’ll be back,” Velasquez said. “I’m very optimistic.”
Velasquez left his start on Thursday after just one inning with numbness in his finger. The Phillies placed him on the disabled list with a “right middle finger injury.” Velasquez visited a hand specialist in the afternoon to determine the cause of a mysterious bruise on his right middle finger. He said his finger was still bruised, but the pain has alleviated and the swelling gone down. The Phillies placed him on the disabled list shortly after.
“Just have to play it by ear and see how it reacts,” Velasquez said. “I don’t know from this point so I’m just being optimistic, but I’m going shoot for definitely having another start or two before the end of the season.”
Velasquez said his doctor’s visit included an ultrasound. The doctor, Velasquez said, believes the injury is just bruising but is also unsure of what caused it. The pitcher said it bothered him on every pitch.
“We’re still clueless,” Velasquez said. “It’s really hard to define what it is. … I don’t know how this may prolong or what it may lead to, but I’m just being patient with it.”
Velasquez will likely be replaced in the rotation by Mark Leiter, who struck out seven batters on Thursday in five innings of relief after Velasquez exited. Leiter has struck out 16 batters and allowed one run with no walks over his last two relief appearances, which cover a span of 9 1/3 innings. He deserves a shot to start.
“He’s just pitching well, location and throwing quality pitches,” Mackanin said. “He’s got a variety of pitches, which helps. He’s not just pumping 95 [mph] past people. He’s not a fastball-slider guy. He’s got different pitches that he uses, and he uses it well. He’s been a pleasant surprise.”
The injury will cost Velasquez at least two starts, which is crucial as the Phillies try to determine if he will stay in next season’s rotation or move to the bullpen. He has been inconsistent this season and has too often left games after working up high pitch counts. His time on the disabled list will lessen his chances of influencing the front office’s thinking.
“I really didn’t do that well of a preparation from the offseason until now. I think I could have done a better job,” Velasquez said. “But on that note … I can’t control all that stuff. What I can control in the offseason is to better my health, eat right, and prepare myself the right way. But I think now I just have to sit and wait and be patient and just deal with it. I’m going to keep it under my cap and prepare for next year. I don’t know long this is going to take or what it might lead to.
“These are just one of the side effects. It’s taking a toll on me, and it’s tough to not play, especially having a rough year. It’s just tough, dealing with a big injury or the past two injuries. It’s tough. I can’t catch a break, but I have to deal with it.”
Andrew Knapp is confident he will return sometime in September after his fractured right hand heals. Jorge Alfaro caught Friday’s game and went 1 for 5 in his first game since Saturday. … Righthander Aaron Nola will start Saturday against righthander Steven Matz.