Spring training isn’t all about wins and losses, but sometimes a loss is so ugly that it needs to be mentioned high up in the story, even when there are more current affairs to dive into.
So before we get to the roster issues that are consuming the Phillies in the final days of camp, a word about Saturday’s 9-8 loss to the Detroit Tigers.
The Phils took an 8-1 lead late in the eighth.
Four Phillies pitchers, all minor league minicamp crews, combined to walk seven batters and hit another in the inning as the Tigers scored eight times to take the lead. Phillies pitchers hit four consecutive walks full of bases on the frame.
Again, spring training isn’t just about wins and losses, and these weren’t the Phillies’ primetime pitchers who gave up the big lead. Still, it is somewhat alarming that, in three straight games, relievers have come from the minor league minicamp and given up big leads. It doesn’t bode well for the kind of depth the Phillies have waiting on the wings in case there’s a need in the big leagues.
Before Saturday’s game turned into a rock fight, manager Joe Girardi and the front office had a chance to see some of the players vying for the bottom spots on the roster.
Odubel Herrera, Scott Kingery and Adam Haseley, three of the four players vying for the center field spot, all played in the game. Roman Quinn didn’t. Girardi said he had come out with what the team believed to be food poisoning. Girardi added that he was hopeful Quinn would be able to play Sunday.
Haseley had a three-run double against the Tigers and Kingery had a double and a walk, but struck out three times.
Herrera shone. He homered, doubled and singled.
“I thought his at-bats were really good,” Girardi said. “He showed that he could hit the ball in both directions of the field.
“He hit an early home run and then a double down the line, he hit so hard, then he fought a pitch and hit it down the middle. I thought they were good.
Herrera was leading the race for center field spot at that midpoint in camp and then slowed down when Quinn emerged.
Can a day like this turn things around in Herrera’s favor?
“It can definitely help,” Girardi said.
“Again, it is not a final decision for the entire year. It is a decision for the opening day.”
In the bullpen, four pitchers compete for the remaining three spots.
Left-hander JoJo Romero didn’t affect his chances of securing a spot with a blank entry. Right-hander Sam Coonrod also pitched a blank inning.
Vince Velasquez and David Hale are the other two pitchers in the mix for one of the last three bullpen jobs. Girardi has said he would like to keep two pitchers capable of providing length, and Hale and Velasquez fit that profile. Velasquez, who had been bothered by an oblique problem mid-camp, is scheduled to pitch two innings Sunday. If it’s healthy, it could be inside.
“We have three or four guys,” Girardi said of the remaining bullpen contestants. “Whoever does not come with us, we know that it is a good arm and gives us depth.”
The bench is still up in the air, but Brad Miller is nearly recovered from oblique strain and could play Sunday.
Girardi said he and the main office know how they are supporting each other in a series of decisions as the 26-man roster is finalized.
“I just haven’t had a chance to speak to all parties yet,” he said.
Here’s a guess as to where the roster is heading into the last two days of camp. Opening day is Thursday.
Matt Moore (left)
José Alvarado (left)
JoJo Romero (left)
David Hale or Sam Coonrod
They are 25 men.
The last place on the list seems to be in the hands of Kingery, Haseley or the utilitarian Ronald Torreyes.
Stay tuned. There could be some decisions on Sunday.
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