Now that Phillies righthander Vince Velasquez knows for sure that he avoided serious injury — but not the disabled list — he can fully appreciate his athletic feat Saturday night.
In case you missed it, Velasquez got hit on the right forearm by a line drive in the second inning of a game against the Washington Nationals. But he had the presence of mind to collect the ball and throw a strike — with his left hand — to first base to retire speedy Adam Eaton for the third out and save a run from scoring from third base.
"That was awesome. I've been watching [the replay] like 20 times," Velasquez said Sunday. "It's just crazy. It's mind-blowing."
X-rays taken Saturday night were negative, and Velasquez was diagnosed with a bruised forearm. On Sunday, he saw team physicians, who determined that additional tests won't be necessary. But Velasquez is predictably sore, so the Phillies elected to place him on the 10-day disabled list.
"Not really trying to be too pushy with it," Velasquez said. "We're just going to play it safe and take it day by day. I'll take my 10 days and do what I've got to do, downtime bounce back and feel refreshed."
Velasquez has a 4.69 ERA and 107 strikeouts in 88 1/3 innings over 17 starts. His development, along with right-handers Nick Pivetta and Zach Eflin, is a big reason the Phillies entered Sunday only three games behind the Atlanta Braves in the National League East.
But his lefthanded throw was still the talk of the clubhouse a day later. Velasquez said his phone has been inundated with messages from friends and family.
"I told Kap [manager Gabe Kapler], I was like, 'I literally had intentions of throwing with my left hand. I didn't know where the ball was going, but I just wanted to get the out,'" Velasquez said. "It was just a big adrenaline-type thing."
With days off coming up Monday and Thursday, the Phillies won't won't absolutely need to fill Velasquez's spot in the rotation until a July 9 doubleheader in New York. They would also need a starter for July 10 against the Mets.
It's not clear whether the Phillies will go with only four starters until July 9. If they elect to call up a starting pitcher, righthander Ben Lively (2.44 ERA in eight triple-A starts) is already on the 40-man roster. Fellow triple-A starters Enyel De Los Santos (1.81 ERA in 15 starts) and lefty Cole Irvin (2.54 ERA in 15 starts) have been among the International League's best pitchers, but neither is on the 40-man roster.
The Phillies reinstated reliever Pat Neshek from the disabled list Sunday. Neshek, who signed a two-year, $16.25 million contract in the offseason, hasn't thrown a pitch in the majors yet this year because of shoulder and forearm injuries. Kapler recently labeled Neshek "the best bullpen piece we could possibly acquire" before the July 31 trade deadline.