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Phillies Notebook: Taijuan Walker hits IL; Spencer Turnbull to start again

PHILADELPHIA — Embattled pitcher Taijuan Walker must work through inflammation in his right index finger in his own time as the Phillies on Sunday placed him on the 15-day injured list retroactive to June 22.

Pitcher Michael Mercado took over Walker’s roster spot after being recalled from Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Spencer Turnbull, who started earlier this season while Walker was rehabilitating an injury, will go back into the starting rotation for now.

This wouldn’t be a big deal had the Phillies not signed Walker to a four-year deal paying him $18 million per season through 2026. Make no mistake, the blister on Walker’s throwing hand is the kind of on-again, off-again issue that tests a manager’s patience. It sounds like it will be a while before Walker gets back into the rotation. Turnbull will make Walker’s scheduled start Wednesday in Detroit.

“It all revolves around being able to throw a split,” manager Rob Thomson said. “That’s what’s really a factor. It’s inflammation and there’s a blister there so I don’t know whether it’s infected or what. But it’s more the blister than anything else.”

Thomson’s plan is to use the 6-foot-4 Mercado, 25, in “lower leverage” situations out of the bullpen.

“It’s always exciting for me when a guy comes to the big leagues, especially a young guy,” Thomson said. “And he’s really talented. He’s had a good year. He’s got a great arm. He’s a really good kid. I’m excited for him.”

Mercado is 1-1 with a 1.71 ERA and 44 strikeouts in 47.1 innings pitched with the IronPigs, having limited the opposition to a .189/.297/.262 slash line with a .559 OPS. Mercado made four scoreless bullpen appearances for the ‘Pigs before hitting the starting rotation, where he has a 1.98 ERA and 39 strikeouts in 41.0 innings. That starting experience could make it interesting for Turnbull, who will be on a 70 or so pitch count this week, per Thomson.

Walker, meanwhile, has some healing and perhaps soul searching to do.

“It doesn’t affect him when he’s throwing a fastball,” Thomson said. “It’s when he puts the ball between his fingers. It’s been going on. It comes and goes a little bit. We really want to knock it out.”

• • •

Phillies starter Cristopher Sanchez, after signing a long-term extension flirted with throwing his first complete game shutout before exiting after seven innings in what became a 4-1 win over the Diamondbacks.

“He was brilliant,” Thomson said. “He just did a masterful job. That’s a good offensive club over there.”

Sanchez gave up just three hits and fanned four, the Phillies lifting him after 80 pitches, 54 of them strikes. He didn’t allow a run, the Diamondbacks ending the shutout at the expense of reliever Jeff Hoffman in the last of the ninth inning.

“It was really hot,” Thomson said. “The sweat was just pouring out of him.”

• • •

Nick Castellanos drove in his 800th career run with a single that plated Alec Bohm, who led off the second inning with a double.

Castellanos batted .478 on the six-game homestand with 11 hits, including four doubles and two home runs, and eight RBIs. He also scored three runs.

• • •

Diamondbacks bench coach Jeff Banister was ejected with one out in the sixth inning, shortly after a controversial Justin Martinez balk pushed Bryson Stott and Brandon Marsh to third and second.

David Dahl’s single plated them both for a 3-0 Phillies lead.

After the Diamondbacks changed pitchers, home plate umpire Ben May walked toward the visiting dugout and gave Banister the heave-ho, the two engaging in an animated conversation.

Truth be told, you could see the feud leading to an ejection a mile away as Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo wasn’t at all happy when May assessed a ball for a pitch time violation. After that the Diamondbacks constantly grouped together at the mound, where May had to break them up. The blow-up seemed inevitable.

Source: Berkshire mont

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