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September 06, 2022

Phillies notes: Zach Eflin, Seranthony Domínguez throw off the mound, minor leaguers vote to unionize

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050416.Phils.Eflin Ryan Lawrence/For PhillyVoice

Is Zach Eflin nearing a return?

Zach Eflin and Seranthony Domínguez threw off the mound in the simulated games on Tuesday and Zack Wheeler had a catch as all three look to return and maintain the Phillies' march to October. 

Eflin, who is on the injured list with a bruised right knee, hasn't pitched since June 25.

Domínguez, right tricep tendinitis, last pitched on August 17.

And Wheeler, right forearm tendinitis, has been out since the August 20 loss to the Mets. 

The Phillies returned home Tuesday to open up a three-game set against the Marlins, but do so after dropping five of six to Arizona and San Francisco on their West-coast road trip, where they were outscored a combined 50-36 and had their thinning bullpen struggle immensely. 

The Phils now have just a two-game cushion over Milwaukee for the third NL Wild Card spot entering Tuesday night, and having blown the chance to really bury the Brewers in the postseason chase, have concerns creeping up that another September collapse could be in store. 

Wheeler, Eflin, and Domínguez are hoping to return to the rotation and bullpen in time to prevent that from happening, possibly with the help of prospect Griff McGarry, who just got bumped up to Triple-A Lehigh Valley down in the minors. 

The Phillies have pivotal series remaining against the Marlins, Nationals, and Braves remaining to close out the final stretch of the regular season, and with the end of a decade-long playoff drought on the line, they'll take all the help they can get.

Minor leaguers vote to unionize

The Major League Baseball Players Association sent out union authorization cards to minor leaguers a couple of weeks ago, and since then, more than 50 percent have reportedly come back in favor of unionization, well surpassing the 30 percent threshold required. 

With that, the MLBPA requested formal recognition of a minor-league union by Major League Baseball on Tuesday, establishing a clear path toward better representation for players in the professional game's lower levels.

“Minor league Players have made it unmistakably clear they want the MLBPA to represent them and are ready to begin collective bargaining in order to positively affect the upcoming season,” MLBPA Executive Director Tony Clark said in a statement released Tuesday

The MLBPA in its current form only represents players who are on 40-man rosters, but it's looking to expand coverage to more than 5,000 minor league players, and possibly Dominican Summer League players later down the line, with the authorization vote, according to ESPN

The top priorities: Higher wages and better working conditions, which have long had numerous complaints against organizations all over professional baseball, including the Phillies

Should MLB not recognize the minor league union, then players will need to take it up with the National Labor Relations Board with another vote, this time surpassing a floor of 50 percent approval if it comes to that.

"I definitely feel scared, but this feels like the right thing to do. We're all jacked up," Joe Hudson, a Triple-A catcher for the Rays told ESPN. "There's some bewildered teammates who can't believe this is actually happening. Everyone is just raving with positivity, moving forward. I haven't come across one guy who's against this right now. It's really a snowball effect here."

"We're seeing how things have worked over the past decades and how things are going to work in the future," Mets shortstop Francisco Lindor, who sits on the MLBPA's executive subcommittee, told ESPN"We are headed in the right direction. When I was in the minor leagues, it was so much about forgetting about what you're getting paid, forget about the travel, just make it to the big leagues and play better. But also it's not the way to be."

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