Phillies: Joe Girardi understands Zack Wheeler’s concern

Manager Joe Girardi #25 of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Manager Joe Girardi #25 of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

Phillies manager Joe Girardi says he has Zack Wheeler’s back

Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Zack Wheeler has a tough decision to make when he is placed on the paternity list later this month — does he return to the team and risk the health of his wife, Dominique, and newborn child?

The right-handed pitcher expressed his lingering concern to reporters on Sunday, but said, for now, he is pleased with health and safety protocols being followed at Phillies summer camp in South Philadelphia.

For now, Wheeler remains committed to debut in red pinstripes this season, but things could change. Manager Joe Girardi said he will fully support whatever decision the veteran pitcher makes.

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“I told Zack, ‘Whatever you feel is best, I got your back. Whatever Dominique feels is best, I got her back, too,'” Girardi said. “I understand the trepidation. It’s scary.”

The skipper continued that Wheeler is not the only one concerned about the risk the team is subjecting itself to every day. Even, he, who has a wife and three kids, has had doubts. But, Girardi is going to continue to be really careful, take things day by day and “see how this goes.”

Wheeler and Girardi share at least one thing in common, in addition to being at the highest stage of professional baseball. They both prioritize their family.

Wheeler called Girardi a “family guy,” before continuing: “Family comes first to him. He knows the situation I’m in. He loves his kids. He’s a good guy and he’s one of the reasons I signed here.”

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Girardi says: “[Zack is] concerned and I think we’re all concerned. Maybe all the players would necessarily say it. I think there are different levels of concerns for different reasons. I think his level of concern is fairly high because he has a wife and they’re expecting their first child. Whether it’s their first, second, or third, it wouldn’t really matter, but there is concern.”

Girardi added that Wheeler “just happened to speak what was on his heart,” whereas if everyone did the same, there would be a greater level of uncertainty within the league.

The season is set to get underway in less than three weeks. A lot can change from now to then, but it appears no matter what, Girardi will continue to lead the team the right way through it all.