Zack Wheeler’s uneasy Phillies commitment with baby due this month

Phillies offseason acquisition Zack Wheeler is willing to take risks to get on the mound this season — for now.

While expressing concerns about returning back to training camp, Wheeler, who as of now plans to play, mentioned the especially high risk of playing this season as his wife Dominique is due to give birth to their first child in a few weeks.

“I’m happy with what I see so far. But things could change, especially once our baby’s born,” Wheeler told reporters

on a Zoom call Sunday. “I always think about what’s going on around me. Is it safe? Is it OK? Literally every single day. I have to just ask myself that. I’m going to continue to keep asking myself that every day.

“It’s a very difficult decision. It’s something that is still playing in my head. I have to be very careful here at the field, outside of the field, wherever I go. The baby’s and Dominique’s health are most important to me. So whatever I can do to make sure they are safe, that is the No. 1 goal for me. Baseball comes after that.”

Zach Wheeler Phillies baby 2020 MLB season
Zack WheelerGetty Images

Opening Day is either July 23 or 24 for the Phillies, just around the time Dominique is due. Wheeler plans to take three days of paternity leave, and is required to take a COVID-19 test upon his return to the league. If he is cleared to rejoin the Phillies, he will most likely need a few days to throw before he gets back on the field.

The Phillies signed Wheeler, 30, to a five-year, $118 million contract in December after he left the Mets in free agency. If he chooses to opt out of this season, he would not be paid a prorated salary.

Manager Joe Girardi expressed his understanding and supports Wheeler’s decision regardless of what he chooses to do.

“I told Zack, whatever you feel is best, I’ve got your back,” Girardi told reporters. “Whatever Dominique feels is best, I’ve got her back too. I understand the trepidation. It’s scary.”