A Health Check on Phillies Pitchers as Camp Opens

CLEARWATER, Fla. – As Phillies pitchers and catchers take the field for the first workout of the spring Tuesday morning, a few quick updates on the health of a few pitchers.

• Aaron Nola missed the last two months of the 2016 season with an elbow injury. He said he's 100 percent healthy and ready to go. The true test will come with the intensity of game action. If the 23-year-old right-hander is healthy, he's in the rotation.

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• Jake Thompson said he's about a week behind due to some soreness that developed in his right wrist during recent workouts. The 23-year-old right-hander is throwing on flat ground, but not in the bullpen.

"We're just being cautious, but it will be fine," said Thompson, who projects to open in Triple A.

• Zach Eflin is set to throw his third bullpen session on Tuesday. The right-hander did not pitch after Aug. 8 last season because of tendinitis in both knees. He'd had the problem for many years and it was addressed with a pair of surgeries during the offseason.

"It's been a very, very long time since I've been able to walk on knees that felt good," Eflin said. "So I'm excited. I feel great and I'm ready to go.

"Before surgery it was almost like a cramping feeling, just walking around and stuff. It's just night and day, man.

"I'm just looking forward to start using my legs when I pitch and just really see what I can bring to the table now."

Eflin, 22, was the first starting pitcher that the Phillies added in their rebuild movement. He joined the franchise in the December 2014 trade that sent Jimmy Rollins to the Dodgers.

Eflin made it to the majors last year and went 3-5 with a 5.54 ERA in 11 starts. He pitched a complete-game gem in beating the Braves, 5-1, on July 5. He scattered six hits, walked none and struck out six while completing the game in just 92 pitches.

Eflin will push for a job in the big-league rotation, but he could end up back in a prospect-studded Triple A rotation to open the season. He will be someone to keep an eye on now that he's pitching with a healthy base.

• Power-armed Vince Velasquez is ready to go. He said he wants to work on his curveball more in this camp. Velasquez, 24, was shut down after 24 starts and 131 innings last year as the team took a cautious approach with his surgically repaired elbow. The leash will be longer this season, but Velasquez said he expects his workload to continue to be monitored.

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