Injuries continue to mount at an alarming rate for the Phillies.
The team opens its final road trip of the season Monday night not knowing if Bryce Harper will be in the lineup for the first game of a crucial four-game series at Washington.
"Fingers crossed," manager Joe Girardi said.
Harper pulled himself from Sunday's 6-3 loss to Toronto in the bottom of the seventh inning, moments after he'd struck out with the bases loaded.
Harper appeared to injure himself while chasing down a ball in the gap in the top of the inning.
After the game, Girardi revealed that Harper was experiencing lower back stiffness. It didn't sound serious, but with just seven games to play in the regular season and a playoff spot hanging in the balance for the already banged-up Phillies, losing Harper for any amount of time would hurt.
"We'll see how he feels tomorrow and see if he's available for me," Girardi said. "He'll get a lot of treatment."
Girardi said Harper had experienced lower back tightness at other times this season, but not bad enough to knock him from the lineup.
Harper was receiving treatment after the game and was unavailable to speak with reporters. The Phillies were scheduled to bus to Washington. Girardi said Harper would likely receive treatment when the team arrived at the hotel and again in the morning.
Before going hitless in Sunday's series finale against Toronto — the Phils won three of four — Harper had five doubles, four homers and seven RBIs in his previous 10 games.
The already depleted Phils can't afford to lose that kind of offense. In the last 10 days, the Phils have lost two big bats from the middle of their order in Rhys Hoskins and J.T. Realmuto. Hoskins strained a ligament in his left elbow and might miss the remainder of the season (and require surgery) and Realmuto has missed 10 straight games with a hip injury. In addition, the Phils have lost starting pitchers Jake Arrieta and Spencer Howard in the last 10 days.
The Phils had initially hoped to have Realmuto back over the weekend, but he wasn't ready. Girardi said Realmuto would not be ready to catch Monday night in Washington. It's possible — possible — he could serve as the designated hitter, which would be a step in the right direction because he hasn't even been available to pinch-hit yet.
It's not clear how the Phillies would cover their outfield if Harper is out Monday night. Adam Haseley could play right field with Andrew McCutchen playing left and Roman Quinn in center. The Phillies sent Mickey Moniak to the minors on Sunday so he could not immediately return unless the Phils put someone on the injured list. The Phils could add utilityman Ronald Torreyes from the auxiliary camp. They have an open spot on the active roster after optioning pitcher Adonis Medina to the minors after Sunday's start.
The Phillies are looking to get off to a quick start in Washington. They will send Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola, their two best pitchers, to the mound in the first two games of the series. The Phils are 27-26 and are sitting in seventh position in a volatile NL playoff race. The good news is the Phils, even in their banged-up condition, control their own destiny. They are just 8-13 on the road so they will have their work cut out for them over the final seven games, four in Washington and three in Tampa Bay. It would help if they have Bryce Harper and J.T. Realmuto for the bulk of those games. Stay tuned.