Phillies: Hector Neris could soon return from COVID-19 IL

Hector Neris #50 of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Hector Neris #50 of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

Signs point to Hector Neris soon rejoining the Phillies from the COVID-19 IL

It appears at least one of the seven Philadelphia Phillies players currently absent from summer camp at Citizens Bank Park, due to COVID-19 protocols, could soon return. Right-handed closer Hector Neris appears to have cleared some protocols, as he was at the venue on Sunday but did not practice, according to The Athletic’s Matt Gelb.

Last week, Neris — along with utility player Scott Kingery, southpaw Ranger Suarez and fellow right-handed reliever Tommy Hunter — were placed on the COVID-19 Injured List retroactive to June 30. Right-hander Aaron Nola, outfielder Adam Haseley, and minor-league catcher Christian Bethancourt have also yet to work out with the team due to COVID-19 protocols, but have not been played on the injured list.

Neris, 31, is gearing up for his seventh season in red pinstripes. Last year, he notched a career-high 28 saves, while posting a 2.93 ERA, 89-24 strikeout-to-walk ratio and 1.020 WHIP spanning 67 2/3 innings.

Players can be added to the COVID-19 Injured List if they test positive, show symptoms, or have contact with someone infected with the virus. If a player tests positive, they must self-quarantine for two weeks and record back-to-back negative tests before they can return.

There was a report on Saturday that Nola, Haseley and Bethancourt were added to the COVID-19 Injured List, but it was later corrected to say they are absent from the team due to protocols regarding the virus. Phillies manager Joe Girardi asked to make a statement to the media on Sunday regarding reporting of players’ health, as it relates to COVID-19, during these unprecedented times.

“I just wanted to tell you, I don’t want assumptions to be made if possible. I know this is difficult on you. It’s difficult on me. Because of HIPAA laws and Major League protocols, we’re not allowed to announce whether someone is positive,” Girardi said. “I get the question all the time. I think the assumption is when I say a guy is out for a medical condition that he has COVID. And that is not necessarily always the case.”

“I’m not trying to be secretive. This is just the protocol I’ve been asked to follow.”

Girardi continued that there are several different things as it relates to the seven players currently absent from camp. “Sometimes certain tests take longer than others. We don’t have any reason why,” he said. “Sometimes it could be through contact tracing. It was four steps removed, but A was with B, B was with C, C was with D and D was with E, so now we have to maybe make sure that E is OK.”

“It could be another medical condition that could be someone in their family that I’m not allowed to talk about as well.”

Girardi concluded that it is unfortunate that he cannot be more direct, but that he does not want an assumption being made that someone is always positive when a player is absent from the team.

“I’m not trying to mislead anyone,” he said.