Phillies ace Aaron Nola eyes his third straight Opening Day start
Philadelphia Phillies fans can breathe a huge sigh of relief. The team’s ace starting pitcher Aaron Nola reported to summer camp in South Philadelphia on Monday and says he expects he will be ready to go for the team’s season opener, July 24 against the Miami Marlins at Citizens Bank Park.
In doing so, Nola would be the Phillies’ Opening Day starting pitcher for the third consecutive season.
The right-hander had been among seven Phillies players who had yet to report to camp, raising concerns about his health. Other absent players included closer Hector Neris, southpaw pitcher Ranger Suarez, right-handed reliever Tommy Hunter, outfielder Adam Haseley, utility player Scott Kingery was seen, and non-roster invitee catcher Christian Bethancourt. Neris at Citizens Bank Park on Sunday.
But, Nola told reporters on Monday that he did not have COVID-19 or any symptoms; rather, he was exposed to another person who tested positive. So, he was told to isolate for one week while waiting for testing results. After experiencing no symptoms and receiving his negative COVID test, Nola rejoined the team.
According to The Athletic’s Matt Gelb, Nola was asked on Monday’s call if the Phillies ever requested permission from him to “dispel speculation regarding his status.”
Gelb continues: “[Nola] said that was never an option they discussed until after the fact. Some teams, obviously, are taking different approaches to this.”
The five-year veteran was busy during his rain-shortened first day at camp; he called his day a “relief,” and that his arm feels good and he is in shape. The right-hander was even seen throwing a bullpen session out in center field. Nola noted that while the clubhouse is different with everyone wearing masks, once you get on the field, “it’s just playing baseball.”
Girardi was impressed with Nola’s bullpen session, but said it is “too early to tell” if he will be ready come July 24.
It is good to see Nola back with the team and gearing up for the regular season, slated to start in less than three weeks. The 60-game, 66-day 2020 schedule will be released Monday evening.