As reported in a timely manner at The Good Phight nearly two months ago, the Phillies were set to send seven players to the Arizona Fall League to help the Glendale Desert Dogs on their quest to an AFL championship. Do they even compete for things like championships in the Fall League? Yes, is the answer to that question. The team with the best record in the West Division plays the team with the best record in the East Division in a winner-takes-all battle royale for the coveted, non-corporate-sponsored league championship.
Those championship odds for your (and the White Sox's, and the Astros', and the Dodgers', and the Pirates') Dogs of the Desert certainly suffered a major blow now that two of the Phillies participants are no longer participating in the Arizona aridity.
It came to the attention of The Good Phight a couple days ago by means of a cursory look at the season statistics and roster for the Desert Dogs that one Nick Pivetta had yet to appear in a game for the team. This is odd because, in the words of the esteemed TSwift, "the players gonna play, play, play, play, play." That Pivetta, a player, had yet to even play once, let alone the standard five times set forth by Swift, was off given that we had no reason to conclude that he was not a player. The crisp scent of a Halloween mystery was in the air.
So, we did what any internetting people would do when confronted with a missing person case: we checked into Nick Pivetta's Twitter. What we found was alarming.
Feels good to be back in Canada— Nicholas Pivetta (@Npivetta27) September 21, 2015
This was a bit odd, but not too concerning, considering that AFL play began on October 13th. That Pivetta would return to his native Canada for a little family time and good, old fashioned R&R makes some sense after a long season before gearing up for a fall of intensely competitive baseball is no shock.
But where was he now? He has plenty of time to report to Arizona from Canada. I mean, we have planes and stuff now. If he had to commute by horse-drawn carriage, that would be one thing. But, quite simply, that is not the thing. Why isn't he there? What foul deeds are afoot?
To Twitter again:
Cats? A mysterious woman standing by his lake? Is one of these beings his captor? Are these pictures a cry for help from Nick? Should we assemble a team to find him and save him from the cold, dreary depths of the Canadian interior? Things are worse than we initially suspected!
Needless to say, we were all deeply concerned for the well-being of our above-average prospect.
We were able to crack the mystery when our high school history teacher called in to advise us that Twitter was not a valid source. He reminded us that more traditional print or electronic journalism was more likely to yield valid information regarding the matter at hand. Heeding his advice, we sought out Matt Winkelman of Phillies Minor Thoughts, who sadly shook his head at our ignorance before directing us to to this article he posted on his site not 24 hours after Pivetta declared that he had returned to Canada.
As it turns out, Pivetta suffered an oblique strain in his final start with Reading and was held out of fall league play as a result. As far as we can tell, he has not been kidnapped in the intervening time nor has he suffered some other manner of untimely fate. The safe bet is that he will be ready to go when pitchers and catchers report in February. In a Halloween miracle, this crisis was averted!
Unlike Pivetta, Phillies top prospect J.P. Crawford did show up in Glendale, but disappeared from the roster. In just 20 at bats in Arizona, Crawford hit an uncharacteristic .150/.227/.150 with six strikeouts. It was reasonable to suspect fatigue played a role both in his poor performance and his disappearance from the roster, as Eric Longenhagen pointed out based on looking at his batting mechanics in the AFL:
As it turns out, Crawford was sent home not due to fatigue, but because of a partial ligament tear in his left thumb. Like Pivetta, Crawford's injury seems minor and Todd Zolecki reports that the Phillies expect him to be ready for spring training. Another Halloween miracle and another mystery solved for our young Phillies.
May your Halloweens be as safe for you as they have been so far for Nick Pivetta and J.P. Crawford.