Jose Alvarado returns to Phillies from Triple A; Corey Knebel update

The Phillies made a roster move in their bullpen Sunday morning but it wasn’t the one some may have been anticipating. Hard-throwing lefty Jose Alvarado was recalled from Triple A and Cristopher Sanchez was optioned to Lehigh Valley.

There was a possibility the Phillies could have placed Corey Knebel on the injured list Sunday morning after the closer experienced shoulder stiffness warming up Saturday. 

Knebel is not fully out of the woods, but the Phillies believe there is no structural damage. He went out to play catch in the outfield around 11:15 a.m. Sunday and manager Rob Thomson said there would be an update later.

“He tightened up a little bit last night and I didn’t want to force the issue with him,” Thomson said. “He came out here today and he’s out there playing catch now. It looks like there’s no structural damage. We’ll see where we’re at, reevaluate him today and see where we go from here.”

It is unclear whether Knebel would get the ninth inning on Sunday if a save opportunity arises. It could instead go to Seranthony Dominguez, particularly if the Diamondbacks have right-handed hitters due up. Thomson mentioned the Phillies’ various options to close in Dominguez, Brad Hand and Alvarado. If three lefties were due up, the nod would likely go to a southpaw. Hand has appeared in back-to-back games which could impact the decision-making Sunday.

Alvarado is back after making four scoreless appearances at Triple A. The most important part of his two-week stint with the IronPigs was that he walked just one batter. Alvarado had walked seven and allowed eight runs in his last 4⅓ innings with the Phillies before the demotion. 


The organization wanted Alvarado to recapture some control during the minor-league assignment because he can still be very effective when throwing strikes. He entered the season with a .213 career opponents’ batting average but walks kill.

“Just let him breathe a little bit,” Thomson said. “Go down where there’s not a lot of pressure and just be him and be able to throw strikes and that’s what he did. He did that fairly quickly and now we’ve got him back. He’s a weapon for sure.”

Thomson referenced the fact that Alvarado wasn’t just throwing strikes at Triple A but quality strikes.

“It’s actual strikes, it’s not pitches outside of the zone that guys are chasing,” he said two days prior to Alvarado’s recall. “He’s throwing strikes and running the ball through the zone. We’re happy with that because he can be a force.”

Camargo progressing

Infielder Johan Camargo is making progress rehabbing a right knee strain. He was slated to hit in the cage Sunday morning after hitting off a tee and throwing Saturday.

“Camargo we’re ramping up a little bit, a little more volume today,” Thomson said. 

Camargo is first eligible to return from the injured list on June 16 but it does sound look it will require more time than that.

The streaking Phillies have weathered the injuries to Camargo (their best defensive infielder) and Jean Segura (their best defensive second baseman). Those absences have coincided with Bryson Stott heating up at the plate and Matt Vierling finding ways to produce offensively and defensively. Vierling played second base Saturday for the first time in college, the minors or majors and converted all six defensive chances.

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