Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Bullpen Blows Buchanan’s Brilliant Start

EXHIBITION GAME RECAP: Rays Beat Phillies 5-3

Rays designated hitter Logan Forsythe smacked a pair of opposite-field solo home runs Tuesday in a 5-3 victory over the Phillies at Bright House Field. The first came in the fifth inning against right-hander Phillippe Aumont and the second came in the seventh against left-hander Elvis Araujo. Phillies right-hander David Buchanan, making the start after Jerome Williams was a late scratch, allowed two hits, one run and struck out six in four innings. Alex Cobb made his third start of the spring for the Rays, allowing no runs and no hits while striking out three in three innings before coming out of the game with what the Rays are calling right forearm tightness. He threw 32 pitches of which 25 were strikes. Cobb has been tabbed as the team's Opening Day starter. The elder statesman of the Rays' rotation, Cobb is the only American League pitcher with 10-plus wins, a winning record and a sub-3.00 ERA in each of the last two seasons.

The Phillies have their only day off of the spring Wednesday, but resume play Thursday night on MLB. TV and Gameday Audio at 7:05 against the Yankees in Tampa, Fla. Right-hander Aaron Harang has missed two of his first three starts because of back problems, but he is going to try to pitch Thursday. Joely Rodriguez, who suddenly is a rotation candidate, also is scheduled to pitch.

  • Aumont, who is out of options and fighting for a bullpen job, allowed a solo home run to Forsythe in the fifth.
  • Mike Schmidt, on Pete Rose petitioning MLB for reinstatement and possibly being eligible for the Hall of Fame: "It's surely been a long enough time to wait, huh?"
  • The Phillies wore their traditional green jerseys and caps for St. Patrick's Day.
  • Left fielder Desmond Jennings was a late scratch on Tuesday due to a stomach virus. Jake Elmore stepped in to take his place. Jennings, who mostly started in center field the past two seasons, will be used more in left this season, particularly on nights when Kevin Kiermaier is in the lineup. Kiermaier was told this past week that he would be used only in center field. Kiermaier made a signature Kiermaier play with a diving catch to rob Ben Revere of a base hit in the first inning.
  • Whispers are that Rays shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera has lost some range over the years. Rays manager Kevin Cash was asked how hard that assessment is to deal with by the athlete, to which Cash replied: "I don't know. I never had range."

Another Pitcher Goes Down – Perhaps Roy Halladay could give the Phillies a few innings. The Phillies scratched right-hander Jerome Williams from Tuesday's start against the Rays at Bright House Field after he "tweaked" his right hamstring earlier this week. The Phillies said he is considered day to day. That leaves just two healthy starting pitchers in camp with previous experience in the Phillies' rotation: Cole Hamels and David Buchanan, who started Tuesday. Cliff Lee's season is essentially finished, and his career could be as well, despite the fact he said he will try to rehabilitate a torn tendon in his left elbow a third time. Aaron Harang has missed two of his first three Grapefruit League starts because of back issues. He is scheduled to pitch Thursday. The remaining healthy starters in camp include right-hander Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, who converted to a reliever last season because of questions about his durability as a starter; left-hander Joely Rodriguez; who has never pitched above Double-A; right-hander Kevin Slowey, who is a non-roster invitee; and right-hander Paul Clemens, who is a non-roster invitee. Right-hander Chad Billingsley could be a candidate at some point, but he is recovering from a pair of elbow surgeries and is not expected to be ready until late April.

Halladay On Hamels – The Phillies are in rebuilding mode and trying to trade veterans for young talent. Cole Hamels sits atop that list of vets and Roy Halladay does not envy the next several months for the Phillies' left-hander. "It is very tough, very tough," said Halladay, who lived through trade speculation with the Blue Jays in 2009. "I know for me, I had a lot of emotions. I felt like I had a few years left to try to accomplish things that I wanted to accomplish and in Toronto, they were going in a different direction than where I needed to go. That was very difficult. It was a distraction. It was a struggle." Every time Halladay pitched that season somebody asked him about it. No matter how much he tried, he simply could not avoid it. And he also had to pitch on a team he knew was not going to compete for a World Series, a situation Hamels will find himself in this season. "It is a grind. It's an absolute grind," Halladay said. "You're pitching for your team. You're pitching for yourself. You're pitching for the rest of your career, but you're not pitching for anything. It's tough. And for me, the hardest thing was answering the questions about do you really want to leave, do you want to go somewhere else, what's it going to be like to leave. That was hard to answer those questions after every start. That was difficult. It's something you have to do, but it was difficult." Halladay finally got traded to the Phillies in December 2009, but he never got the World Series championship he wanted. The Phillies reached the NL Championship Series in 2010 and NL Division Series in 2011. The Phillies were the best team in baseball in 2011, winning a franchise-record 102 games. They lost Game 5 of the NLDS to the Cardinals, 1-0. "That last game in 2011 was really kind of a turning point for me in my career and I think at the same time it was for the Phillies' organization," said Halladay, who started that game. "[General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. and I] were talking about the turn the organization has made since that point. I really think they're really doing the right thing right now. It's tough to let some of those guys go and kind of start a new chapter, especially in Philadelphia where the players are so loved by the fans. But it's essential. It's essential at some point. "There's going to be hard feelings. It's not an easy job to dismantle something like that. I know that's not the goal. They still want to be competitive and do the best they can to transition, but at some point you have to kind of say good-bye to some of the mainstays. I think it's best for everybody. I think they're approaching that cautiously and doing the best they can."

Buchanan Bouncing Back – Phillies right-hander David Buchanan entered camp as the favorite to be the team's fifth starter. He entered Tuesday's start against the Rays at Bright House Field as the No. 2 starter now that Cliff Lee's season and career is likely finished because of a torn tendon in his left elbow. Aaron Harang has missed two of his first three Grapefruit League starts because of back problems, although he is scheduled to pitch Thursday. Jerome Williams, who had been scheduled to start Tuesday before tweaking his right hamstring last Sunday, hopes to pitch next Sunday. "Nobody in the game wants to see a guy like Cliff go down," Buchanan said. "He's fun to watch. He's one of the best in the game. We've got to step up and carry that burden, but those are some big shoes to fill." Buchanan allowed two hits, one run and struck out six in four innings. The six strikeouts stand out because Buchanan reached that number of K's in just three of 20 starts last season. "I try not to get too caught up in that because that's not going to happen very often," Buchanan said. "I'm not a big strikeout guy. I'm more trying to get ground balls and get those early outs. If I can get a strikeout on three pitches, cool. But I'd rather get an out on one pitch."

Hustle To The Hall? – Hall of Fame third baseman Mike Schmidt has been one of Pete Rose's staunchest supporters for years. So there is no question he would like to see Rose reinstated into baseball and become eligible for the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Rose has formally petitioned Commissioner Rob Manfred to lift his lifetime ban from baseball for gambling on games while playing and managing for the Reds. "I hope the Commissioner concedes and will allow Pete to come into his office, sit there and chat for a while," Schmidt told "I hope the results of that chat are positive. I think [Rose] needs to be obviously reinstated into baseball. Some steps have to take place for him to actually become a Hall of Famer. It would be nice to see that happen. It's surely been a long enough time to wait, huh?" Dallas Green, who managed Rose on the Phillies' 1980 World Series championship team, agreed with Schmidt. Former teammate Greg Luzinski said that while Rose has the numbers to be in the Hall of Fame, he still broke the rules. "I'm a Pete Rose fan and I always have been," Green said. "I hope he gets that opportunity to go in there. Statistics-wise and everything else, there's no contest. He's certainly suffered a lot of embarrassing times for him. He probably deserved what he got. Obviously he did, because he broke a cardinal rule, but I think it's time to put that aside and recognize what he did on the field." Said Luzinski: "It's obvious by the records he has in baseball that he's a Hall of Famer as far as that goes. But the rules are another thing that myself and everybody else had to abide by. … It is kind of a shame that he isn't in the Hall of Fame being remembered for what he could do. I've said in the past, he's broken a rule. He's had a chance to come back and apologize to the people. He didn't do it. He's had a couple opportunities. Now he's trying again. Like I said, statistically he's a Hall of Famer. Rules-wise, they've been broken."

The Phillies will look to rebound this season from a 73-89 record last year. While uncertainty abounds, there is little question that the franchise is in rebuild mode based on the moves and statements that have been made during the offseason. The only question that remains is whether or not the young and veteran talent on the team can work together to disprove Gillick’s predictions either this year or next.

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