Thursday, March 5, 2015
Slowey And Steady Beats The Yankees
EXHIBITION GAME RECAP: Phillies Beat Yankees 3-1
Phillies right-hander Kevin Slowey made a pretty routine start Wednesday afternoon against the Yankees at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Slowey spent two innings working on his fastball command in Philadelphia's second Grapefruit League game of the spring. No big deal. Well, except Yankees star Alex Rodriguez played in his first game since his season-long 2014 suspension for PED use, which meant local and national media outlets live tweeted those plate appearances across the world. "Maybe I made it into some of those live tweets," Slowey said after throwing two scoreless innings in a 3-1 victory. Slowey, who allowed one hit in two at-bats against Rodriguez, actually trended nationally on Twitter. A-Rod? Not so much because folks called Rodriguez any number of things on Twitter, including Rodriguez, ARod, A-Rod, etc. Slowey is Slowey. "All right," Slowey said. "Can I get a screen grab of that from somebody?" Cord Phelps got Philadelphia on the board in the second with an RBI single and Maikel Franco made it 2-0 with a single in the fifth. After the Yankees cut the deficit in half in the sixth, Aaron Altherr rounded out the scoring with a single in the seventh. Slowey, 30, started Wednesday because Aaron Harang was scratched due to a back issue. Slowey will need to continue to pitch well to earn a spot on the Opening Day roster. He is a non-roster invitee and has not pitched since the Marlins released him in June. Slowey had offers to pitch for other organizations, but he elected to stay home as his wife was pregnant with their first child. Slowey said he would start or relieve for the Phillies, but they are asking him to start. Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee, Harang and Jerome Williams are locks for the first four spots. Slowey will compete with David Buchanan, Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez and others for the fifth spot. Buchanan is the favorite for the No. 5 spot, but there could be an opportunity for everybody. Hamels or Lee could be traded at some point, and it is a rarity for five starters to stay healthy and effective the entire season. It is why the Phillies signed Chad Billingsley before Spring Training. Billingsley is another rotation candidate, but he is not expected to be ready until late April. "In terms of breaking with the club, it's out of my hands," said Slowey, who is 43-36 with a 4.62 ERA in 137 appearances (106 starts) in seven seasons with the Twins and Marlins. "As long as I've been playing, every year you sort of realize that a little more. You go out there and you do what you can. For me, once I let go of the ball, that's it and I can prepare as best I can, and that's what I've done. The hope and the goal is to show them I can help the Phillies win and leave the decision up to them."
TODAY’S EXHIBITION GAME:
The Phillies travel to Kissimmee to play the Astros on Thursday at 1:05 p.m. ET, and fans can listen to an exclusive, free webcast on phillies.com. Lee, who finished last season on the DL because of an injured left elbow but has been healthy in camp, will make his Grapefruit League debut. Gonzalez, who is trying to reestablish himself as a starter after moving into the bullpen last season because of concerns about his health, is expected to pitch in relief of Lee.
Grady Down! – Phillies left fielder Grady Sizemore left Wednesday's 3-1 win over the Yankees after getting hit on his right knee with a pitch in the fourth inning. Jordan Danks replaced Sizemore as a pinch-runner. "Just precautionary," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. "He got hit on the meat in the back. He felt fine."
Making His Presence Known – Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg liked what he saw Wednesday afternoon from Rule 5 Draft pick Odubel Herrera, who went 3-for-4 with three stolen bases and two runs scored in a 3-1 victory over the Yankees at George M. Steinbrenner Field. "A lot stood out," Sandberg said. "A spark plug at the top [of the lineup]. Great job with the stolen bases, getting in scoring position, which was big in a 3-1 game. He did a good job of squaring balls up and staying on top of the ball, hard grounders, line drives. Real heads up play with the stolen bases." Herrera has the inside track for one of five available bench jobs, because the Phillies are thinking beyond 2015. Having him on the 25-man roster the entire season to keep him in the organization beyond this year makes sense, especially if he continues to hit. Herrera batted .321 with 16 doubles, four triples, two home runs, 48 RBIs, 12 stolen bases and a .775 OPS in Double-A Frisco (Texas), where he won the league batting title. His OPS ranked 10th among Texas League hitters with 300 or more plate appearances. Herrera then hit .372 with 14 doubles, three triples, six home runs, 27 RBIs, eight stolen bases and a .988 OPS in Venezuelan winter ball, where he also won the batting title. Herrera is expected to play all three outfield positions this spring, but he has played second base and shortstop in the past, so he has versatility defensively. Herrera, 23, has some speed. He succeeded in 128 of 178 stolen-base attempts (71.9 percent) in his career. He went 8-for-8 in winter ball. Sandberg said Herrera was given the green light to steal in certain situations, and he took advantage. "It was an on-and-off green," Sandberg said. "There were some reds in there, because there were left-handed pitchers in there. There were some reasons. He was running really well. He seems to be real fluid in center field. He seems to go to the right spot."
Filling In The Bench – The Phillies will need to be pretty creative to score runs consistently this season. A productive and versatile bench could help. The projected Opening Day lineup includes catcher Carlos Ruiz, first baseman Ryan Howard, second baseman Chase Utley, third baseman Cody Asche, shortstop Freddy Galvis, left fielder Grady Sizemore, center fielder Ben Revere and right fielder Domonic Brown, but the Phillies' projected five-man bench could go a bunch of different ways. Here are the leading candidates: OF/1B Darin Ruf: Could Ruf finally get his opportunity to play in the big leagues on a semi-regular basis? Ruiz is literally the only right-handed bat of the everyday eight, so the Phillies desperately need balance in the lineup. The fact Ruf hits for power helps his cause. He is as close to a lock as one can find for a bench job. OF Odubel Herrera: He has the inside track for a spot because he is a Rule 5 Draft pick. He won the Double-A Texas League batting title last season and the Venezuelan winter ball batting title this winter. If Herrera shows enough promise, the Phillies could stash him on the 25-man roster the entire season to keep him in the organization. INF Cesar Hernandez: The Phillies like Hernandez and he is out of options, which gives him a big edge. Hernandez plays mostly second base, but he also has shown he can play defense on the left side of the infield. C Cameron Rupp: Ruiz is 36 and has not started more than 113 games behind the plate at any point in his career. That could give Rupp enough playing time as a backup to further his development. He has the edge over non-roster invitees Koyie Hill and John Hester. In fact, it might be Rupp's job to lose. However, Rupp will have to hit this spring. He hit .183 in 64 plate appearances last season with the Phillies and .165 in 219 plate appearances with Triple-A Lehigh Valley. OF Jeff Francoeur: He is intriguing because of his past and the fact Charlie Manuel is working with him this spring, but Francoeur will have to produce to earn a spot after posting a .511 OPS in 284 plate appearances the past two seasons in the big leagues. There is a scenario where the Phillies could carry Ruf, Herrera and Francoeur on the roster with Hernandez as the only backup infielder. INF Andres Blanco: He is a non-roster invitee, but if the Phillies want a true shortstop on the roster, Blanco is the best bet. OF Jordan Danks: If the Phillies want a defensive option in the outfield, they could turn to Danks, who would be a true backup center fielder to Revere. C Koyie Hill and C John Hester: Both are non-roster invitees with big league experience, but either one would have to outplay Rupp to earn a spot on the 25-man roster. INF Maikel Franco: The Phillies think Franco will live up to his potential, but unless something unforeseen happens, it makes little sense to have him on the Opening Day roster. Starting Franco in Triple-A allows him to play every day and continue his development. It also allows the Phillies to delay his free agency until after the 2021 season. Remember, the Phillies are not playing for 2015. They are playing for '17 and beyond. That extra year of team control could be big. Other non-roster invitees in camp include infielders Russ Canzler , Chase d'Arnaud, Chris McGuiness, Chris Nelson and Cord Phelps; and outfielders Brian Bogusevic , Darin Mastroianni and Xavier Paul. It takes a lot for a non-roster invitee to make the team out of camp. They might need a Chris Coste-type Spring Training (Coste hit .463 with three homers, 11 RBIs and a 1.305 OPS in 41 at-bats in 2006) to open eyes and enter the 25-man roster discussion.
ON THE RECORD:
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.