Phegley Battles Through Trying Season

Phegley Battles Through Trying Season

Saturday Sept. 4, 2010
Posted: 12:05 p.m.
By Kevin T. Czerwinski

Josh Phegley had been nicked and dinged with foul balls before. Some hurt more than others but whether the ball smashes into your thumb and splits it or just glances off your chest protector, getting hit is the part of a catchers job that is unavoidable.

So when Phegley, 22, took a ding off his thigh back in April, he didnt think much of it. A simple foul ball that grazed off his glove and hit him in the thigh was commonplace. This time, however, the bruise that impact made began to grow, reaching nearly 12 inches. It was at that point that Phegley, the player whom the White Sox chose with the 38th pick in the 2009 draft, realized there was a problem.

I just started to notice some red dots, Phegley said. It was almost like a bruise but the dots were passive and I was thinking what are these? And then I ended up getting the bruise on my leg and it was 10-12 inches wide. It didnt go away and that was my first indication that something was wrong.

The Chicago medical staff ran some blood work on Phegley and he continued to play for Winston-Salem of the Carolina League. When it was determined that he was suffering from a condition known as idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura ITP, he was immediately placed on the disabled list and began to medication to help alleviate the problem.

ITP is a bleeding condition in which the blood doesnt clot as it should. Its caused by a low number of platelets in the blood. The little dots that Phegley saw on his skin are known as petechiae and often look like a rash.

I never had a problem before that and I felt totally normal, said Phegley, who is finishing out this season with Double-A Birmingham. I never had anything like this in my life. It just came on. My blood work checked out fine in spring training. Theres no known cause and Ive spent this year trying to get back on the field because of it.

After the first time you get it, theres more of a chance of getting it again than any other person. A high percentage of people never get it again. But the entire time I had it, I never felt any different. I felt totally normal.

Yet, there could have been serious consequences had Phegley continued playing after he was diagnosed. Had he suffered an injury that resulted in bleeding, the results could have been devastating. So, the White Sox put him on the disabled list after he played on April 15 and he didnt return to action until he began his rehab assignment with Bristol on June 22.

Phegley played at Bristol and then again with Winston-Salem for two weeks before going back on the disabled list for three weeks in July. He finally returned to action on July 30 and spent a little over two weeks in the Carolina League before moving up to the Double-A Southern League.

The last game I played in April before I had my blood ran, I had a collision at the plate with the Nationals Boomer Whiting, Phegley said. Hes a small guy, about 150 pounds. If it was a bigger guy, I could have gotten a concussion, which is basically a bruise in your head, and it wouldnt have stopped bleeding.

When my platelets are low, I start to get those spots because my capillaries are thin. I can start bleeding out so a big gash is more of a risk. If Im playing the outfield, it wouldnt bee as much of an issue. The fact that any ball can be fouled off me makes it a risk.

Despite understanding the risks and issuing a warning to himself, Phegley said he never considered moving out from behind the plate. He has controlled his condition with medication and gets his blood checked regularly to make sure his condition was temporary and not chronic. He will continue to get his blood checked weekly until long-term stability is evident.

If everything checks out fine when I get my blood done I dont even think about it, he said. It was just kind of a fluke disorder that came out of nowhere. And I love catching so changing positions hasnt even crossed my mind.

Phegley is hitting a combined .274 through 45 games at the three levels this season. Hes got four homers, driven in 21 runs and was named as one of the White Sox who will be playing in the Arizona Fall League this season.

Hes been using what time he has spent on the field this season wisely. Phegley is working with the more experienced players at the Double-A level and getting used to a game that moves much quicker than it does in the Carolina League. Hes worked with catcher Cole Armstrong and pitching coach JR Perdew on slowing the game down and will take what hes learned into the AFL season.

I missed a lot of this year so Ill be going to the Instructional League for a while, too, Phegley said. The Fall League is basically going to be my season. Im pretty excited to get going.

Kevin Czerwinski can be reached at

Cubs announce lineup for Game 1 of the World Series...and yes Kyle Schwarber is in it

Cubs announce lineup for Game 1 of the World Series...and yes Kyle Schwarber is in it

CLEVELAND - Kyle Schwarber is in the Cubs starting lineup for the first time since April 7.

It just so happens to also be the Cubs' first World Series starting lineup since 1945.

The Cubs released Joe Maddon's Game 1 lineup against Corey Kluber and the Cleveland Indians Tuesday afternoon ahead of a historic World Series matchup.

Schwarber is hitting fifth at DH:

1. Dexter Fowler - CF
2. Kris Bryant - 3B
3. Anthony Rizzo - 1B
4. Ben Zobrist - LF
5. Kyle Schwarber - DH
6. Javy Baez - 2B
7. Chris Coghlan - RF
8. Addison Russell - SS
9. David Ross - C

And Jon Lester is on the mound.

Schwarber is already the Cubs' all-time leader in postseason homers with five longballs in last season's playoff run.

[SHOP: Buy a "Try Not to Suck" shirt with proceeds benefiting Joe Maddon's Respect 90 Foundation & other Cubs Charities]

Coghlan in the lineup is also a surprise as defensive stalwart Jason Heyward gets the boot to the bench for the second straight game.

The Cubs put Albert Almora Jr. in right field at Wrigley Saturady night when they beat Clayton Kershaw and locked up the NLCs.

Heyward is hitting .071 with a .312 OPS in the postseason, collecting only two hits and a walk in 10 games.

Coghlan has appeared in five games - all as a pinch-hitter - and is 0-for-4 with a walk and a run. 

The Cubs have scored 23 runs in the last three games after being shut out in 21 straight innings prior to that.

Cubs' Javy Baez, Indians' Francisco Lindor cross paths again, this time at World Series

Cubs' Javy Baez, Indians' Francisco Lindor cross paths again, this time at World Series

CLEVELAND -- Francisco Lindor and Javy Baez have always traveled a similar path, from Puerto Rico to Florida to being selected one pick apart in the 2011 amateur draft.

The young star infielders will take another monumental step together on Tuesday night when they square off in the World Series.

Baez has been a breakout star this season for the Cubs, who return to the Fall Classic on Tuesday night after a 71-year absence against Lindor and the Cleveland Indians. 

A first-time All-Star in 2016 and runner-up for the 2015 American League Rookie of the Year award, Lindor said he and Baez, whose families once celebrated Thanksgiving together, reflected upon the significance of the moment over the weekend.

“He texted me after he won and said, ‘Hey man, is this a dream?’” Lindor said. “I said, ‘Yeah, I think it is because I haven’t woke up yet.’ I’m excited.”

[SHOP: Buy a "Try Not to Suck" shirt with proceeds benefiting Joe Maddon's Respect 90 Foundation & other Cubs Charities]

Baez and Lindor, the Indians’ shortstop for the past two seasons, grew up 20 miles apart in Puerto Rico and knew of each other. Both moved to Florida — about 160 miles apart — where their paths crossed again in high school and travel baseball games. Their proximity to one another got even closer when in 2011 the Indians selected Lindor with the eighth overall pick of the draft and the Cubs grabbed Baez with the ninth pick.

Lindor said Monday that their two families celebrated Thanksgiving together about a year after that with Baez’s family hosting the event. There was food and ping pong — Lindor said each player won a few games — and a good time was had by all.

“It was cool,” Lindor said. “His family made food and my mom brought something over and we just chilled. We ate, we had fun --- it was cool man. It was fun. That’s what kids do.”

Now those same youngsters are set to oppose each other in baseball’s most prestigious event. Not only that, both men’s franchises are attempting to snap lengthy World Series droughts and Baez and Lindor, who each have played starring roles this October, could potentially play big roles in their teams’ fortunes. Lindor said he can’t wait to get to shortstop and engage in some friendly banter with his longtime friend.

“Just like regular athletes we’re very competitive,” Lindor said. “We’re going to enjoy the game. But at the same time he likes to enjoy the game and that’s how I am too. You’ll see us whenever he’s at second base and I’m in the dugout -- you’ll see us saying stuff to each other and throughout the game. It’s fun. I’m really excited and can’t wait to go out there and play against him.

“I’m happy for him, happy for his family because he deserves it. All the things he has done, I’m super happy for him. I can’t wait to go out there and have fun. I just want to see him and give him a hug and say congrats.”