Girardi: Phelps out longer than 15 days, will not throw for at least two weeks
"It's the same stuff, tendinitis in the back of the elbow; the MRI came back basically the same - just inflammation - so it's a time out," Girardi said. "I think 15 days is enough (for the inflammation to subside) and that's what we're hoping for, but that said, he's not throwing for two weeks."
Phelps has been pitching with inflammation and discomfort in his elbow since the All-Star break, and even had an MRI a few weeks back that revealed no structural damage. He had said Sunday night that his elbow would usually loosen up after a few warmup pitches - although it didn't on a night where he allowed five runs in two innings and was lifted in favor of Chase Whitley - and for Phelps, the fact that a second MRI taken Monday revealed the same problem was actually a positive.
"The MRI came back clean, so the ligament is still in good shape, and obviously that's the biggest concern. It's just inflammation, so we'll rest and let it calm down and go from there," Phelps said.
Phelps is 5-5 with a 4.28 ERA since joining the rotation in May and entered Sunday's game coming off a July that saw him go 2-1 with a 2.97 ERA and spin three quality starts, so the fact that he will now miss a few weeks was "devastating" to learn.
"It's frustrating, but it's part of baseball," he said. "I said last night I felt like this is one of the best stretches I've had in my career, but we'll rest and let it calm down, and hopefully I can come back strong and help this team reach the playoffs."
There is no further treatment planned beyond rest for now, and once his two-week layoff lapses, Phelps expects to have normal progressions towards a return, which he said "probably" means he'll be out another week or two beyond the required 15 days.
"I'm sure we'll talk to (team trainer) Stevie (Donohue) and the doc as we go along and put a plan together," he said, "(and rehab will be) whatever their program is for me. It's kind of out of my hands (but) I imagine it will be catch, some bullpens, probably a BP of some sort and maybe a rehab start somewhere."
The Yankees recalled RHP Matt Daley from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to replace Phelps on the roster, but they will need a starter to take the righty's next scheduled turn on Friday; Girardi admitted that he had no plan for who will take that turn just yet, but he expects it to be an internal option.
"I'll sit down with (pitching coach) Larry (Rothschild) and our coaches and front office and talk about it," the skipper said. "But we have options here, and it would probably be someone here."
Chase Whitley or Esmil Rogers are the likely candidates to take the turn, and Girardi said that Michael Pineda, who is scheduled to throw about 75 pitches in his second rehab start on Friday, is unlikely to be in the mix.
"We haven't talked about Pineda because we don't think he's built up enough, but we'll see," Girardi said. "Sometimes circumstances dictate that you need a guy sooner than they're ready to be here, but sitting here today, I'd say our plan is not for him to start here Friday."