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Report: Michael Schwimer and Phillies in Dispute Over Injury

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Well of course your arm's going to feel sore if it's coming out of your back. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE
Well of course your arm's going to feel sore if it's coming out of your back. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE

Curious story reported yesterday (here's Jim Salisbury's article on it). As you all know, Jeremy Horst went on paternity leave a few days ago, which allowed Phillippe Aumont to be called up from AAA. When Horst returned, instead of sending Aumont back down, the Phillies elected to option Michael Schwimer.

That was a bit unexpected because Schwimer hadn't been pitching badly and Charlie was even giving him higher-leverage innings than some of the other guys in the pen. At the same time, it didn't really matter very much since rosters are set to expand in a matter of days anyway. Plus, it would have been kind of sad if Aumont had gotten sent back to AAA before even getting the chance to make his debut.

As it turns out, Schwimer seems to think that the Phillies sent him out because he was injured and they didn't want to put him on the major league DL. (Perhaps he thinks the Phillies don't want him to accrue service time in the interim.) He had recently informed the team that he had a sore arm. Salisbury notes that these situations are not unusual, and speculates that Schwimer could file a grievance over it.

Since none of us are doctors who have examined Schwimer, there's no way to know who, if anyone, is in the right here. Certainly if Schwimer is hurt enough to be DL'd, then the Phillies are shafting him by not DL'ing him (although it's a pretty mild shafting if he's only going to lose nine days of service time over it). On the other hand, there could be a middle ground. Suppose Schwimer has a sore arm but there's no sign of structural damage. If the Phillies were not in the middle of a numbers crunch with their roster, they'd probably just give him a few days off without putting him on the DL. If the same injury arises when there is a numbers crunch, then there shouldn't be an obligation to put him on the DL just because of that. It would certainly be nice of the Phillies to DL him, since either way, their numbers crunch problem would be solved. But optioning him wouldn't be unethical.