Phillies eye date for J.T. Realmuto’s return to lineup

The Phillies are eyeing a return date for catcher J.T. Realmuto

The Philadelphia Phillies could soon be getting back their perennial All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto, who has been sidelined since September 12 with hip discomfort.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Matt Breen, Realmuto is on track to return on Monday, as the Phillies begin their second-to-last series of the shortened 2020 season opposite the reigning World Series champion Washington Nationals. The 29-year-old ran Saturday afternoon and all signs seem to point to Joe Girardi’s squad having him back for their crucial late-season stretch.

Through 41 games this season, Realmuto is slashing .267/.357/.527 with 11 home runs, 30 RBI and four stolen bases.

And, before Realmuto’s probable Monday return, the Phillies got back two key starters to their lineup — outfielder Adam Haseley and shortstop Jean Segura — for their Saturday evening matchup against the Toronto Blue Jays. Fellow outfielder Jay Bruce also recently returned following an injury.

As the Phils look to qualify for the postseason for the first time since their 102-win season in 2011, Realmuto surely will be used as much as possible once he returns — both in the starting catching role, as designated hitter, and possibly even at first base in place of the injured Rhys Hoskins.

It is not yet known whether the Phillies will keep their current backup catcher to Andrew Knapp, rookie Rafael Marchan, on their active roster once Realmuto returns. The 21-year-old slugged his first professional home run in Friday evening’s thrilling 8-7 victory in Game 2 — a three-run shot that brought a 5-2 Phillies deficit to a 5-5 tie. Bryce Harper eventually tied the game again at 7 with a two-run double, before Alec Bohm drove home the game-winning run to set up a Hector Neris save.

With nine games left to play, the Phillies currently occupy the seventh National League postseason seed. If the season were to end prior to Saturday’s matchups, Girardi’s squad would play the No. 2-seeded Chicago Cubs in the three-game Wild Card Series at the Houston Astros’ stadium. Of course, work still needs to be done before the team’s September 27 season finale. Having Realmuto back would be key for that effort.