Joe Girardi shared some of his priorities for this strange season ahead while on MLB Network this week.
“There is much more thought into this than ever before,” the Phillies’ first-year manager said.
Nobody expects starting pitchers to go deep into games in their early starts because they won’t have the same stamina built up from a normal ramp-up period. Nor will many hitters have the timing they’d emerge with from a full spring training.
Girardi cautioned that relievers also must be handled delicately.
“You can’t start running your relievers out there a number of days in a row just because it’s not a marathon, it’s a sprint,” he said. “You think about position players, how many games are they really going to play before they go into the regular season compared to a normal spring training?
“There’s a fine line as managers that we walk to make sure players aren’t overused. Because think about it, if you hurt someone or they go on the (injured list) for 2-3 weeks, that could cost you your season.”
To keep players fresher during this 60-game-in-66-day sprint, Girardi plans to use Bryce Harper, J.T. Realmuto, Rhys Hoskins and Andrew McCutchen as the designated hitter at times. Jay Bruce figures to be the Phillies’ primary DH, but Girardi also wants to get those four key players off of their feet when he can.
Earlier this week, Rockies superstar Charlie Blackmon reportedly tested positive for coronavirus. It is almost inevitable that a key player or key players will test positive during this 60-game season and teams will have to battle through that adversity. No matter how good a team is going, its momentum could be derailed at any point over the next few months. The teams with the deepest rosters should have even more of an advantage than in a typical season.
“We’re gonna manage different but you better be smart about it,” Girardi said. “If we all put our heads together and make sure we’re all responsible when we’re away from the field, I think we can do this.”