Archive for the ‘ Uncategorized ’ Category

Burnett Hopes for Good News Monday

Bob McClure, Carlos RuizA.J. Burnett should know tomorrow if he will make Wednesday’s scheduled start against the Braves.

He will have an ultrasound in the morning to see if he has a sore groin or possibly something worse.

“I feel good, but I want my mind to be 100 percent,” he said about the ultrasound. “Let’s just hope it’s not a hernia or something. That’s what I’m worried about. Tomorrow will give me peace of mind. But as far as physically, today was a good day today. A lot better.”

Burnett left Friday’s start against the Marlins in the fifth inning because of soreness in his right groin. He threw a bullpen session this morning at Citizens Bank Park. He said it went better than expected, although he twice felt a pull in the muscle while throwing out of the stretch.

“It went away right after that,” he said. “I’m feeling good enough to throw.”

If Burnett misses a start or more they could use Triple-A right-hander David Buchanan. He pitched just one inning today, which keeps him fresh should he be needed Wednesday. Buchanan is not on the 40-man roster, but they made room on the 40-man Saturday when they outrighted right-hander Brad Lincoln to Lehigh Valley.

Burnett Goes Down, How Long?

Bob McClure, Carlos RuizCole Hamels could rejoin the Phillies’ rotation as early as April 22.

But will A.J. Burnett be there with him?

Burnett left last night’s game against the Marlins in the fifth inning with what the team called “groin soreness.” He will be evaluated today. The right-hander said his right groin affected him intermittently throughout the game, in which he allowed two runs on five hits and six walks while striking out four in 4 1/3 innings.

“It was in and out,” Burnett said. “It was pretty uncomfortable the last inning, but it came on early and went away. That’s why I didn’t feel like it was too serious.

“Pretty much every pitch out of the stretch, more so out of the windup, the last inning I felt it a lot. That ain’t me. I don’t walk guys like that. I’m going to walk my guys here and there, but I couldn’t throw the ball anywhere I wanted to. Hopefully we’ll find out tomorrow that it’s not that bad.”

Burnett, 37, also walked six batters in 5 2/3 innings in his previous start Sunday at Wrigley Field, but he said he did not have any problems before Friday’s start.

“I’d just say it felt more snug that anything,” he said. “Like everything was tight, opposed to something going. I guess that’s a positive. I tried to mask it, but I guess I didn’t, huh? … I’m not too concerned about it, but then again, you never know. I’m not a spring chicken anymore. But it takes a lot to get me out of the ballgame. I’m not happy about that.”

Adams Could Be Back Monday

Mike AdamsThe Phillies bullpen needs help and it hopes Mike Adams is a solution.

He could rejoin the team as early as Monday following a rehab assignment Saturday with Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Adams has not pitched for the Phillies since July, when he had right shoulder surgery. Nobody knows how he will perform once he returns, but the Phillies hope he offers at least a little stability to a bullpen that has struggled through nine games.

The Phillies bullpen has 4.81 ERA, which ranks 23rd in baseball. It has allowed 60 percent (6 of 10) of its inherited runners to score, which is the second-highest mark in the game.

“I feel great,” Adams said today. “Everything has gone above and beyond what I’ve expected. The bounce backs have been great. The soreness (has been minimal). I’m just looking forward to tomorrow.”

The Phillies signed Adams to a two-year, $12 million contract before the 2013 season, but he has made only 28 appearances. His fastball averaged 91.3 mph in 2012, when he pitched for the Rangers. It averaged just 89.8 last season, according to FanGraphs.

He said his velocity during his rehab assignment has been 89-90 mph.

“It’s around where I was last year, I guess,” Adams said. “Maybe a little better. Hopefully coming up here and getting into a big league ball game I can trigger a few extra notches, but we’ll see what happens. The main thing is I’ve been locating pretty well, changing speeds and working on a few things. The main thing is as long as I keep the ball down, 89-90, that’ll work.”

Galvis Up, Hernandez Down

Freddy GalvisThe Phillies activated Freddy Galvis from the 15-day disabled list today.

They optioned Cesar Hernandez to Double-A Reading to make room for him on the 25-man roster.

Galvis had been a lock to make the Opening Day roster, until he picked up MRSA in March. He is the team’s most versatile and best defensive player. I’m guessing Hernandez is headed to Double-A so he can move around the infield a bit more. He needs to learn to play shortstop and third base to get him to stick in the big leagues.

It Gets Harder from Here

Jose FernandezThis is the challenge the Phillies face tonight.

Following four consecutive losses by four or more runs, the Phillies must step into the batter’s box tonight at Citizens Bank Park and try to beat Marlins ace Jose Fernandez, who went 1-0 with a 0.50 ERA in three starts against them last season, striking out 16 batters in 18 innings and holding them to a .359 OPS.

Fernandez has been dominant in his first two starts this year: eight hits, one run, two walks and 17 strikeouts in 12 2/3 innings.

If the Phillies can’t crack the Hernandez code they will fall to 3-7. But it’s early, right? I’ve been reminded the 2007 Phillies opened the season 4-11 before winning the National League East. But a few things to remember there: the Phillies needed to finish 13-4 and the Mets needed to finish 5-12 to make it happen. It also took the Phillies until May 16 to get back to .500, and that team had the best offense in the National League and three MVP-caliber players in their prime in Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard and Chase Utley. This team can’t say that. Perhaps when Cole Hamels returns the Phillies can say they have a formidable 1-2-3 punch atop their rotation, but they still need nights when they can string together a bunch of hits.

Ask Cliff Lee, who has had some of the worst run support in baseball since resigning with the Phillies in Dec. 2010.

The Phillies have hit just .243 with a .317 on-base percentage since they scored 14 runs Opening Day against the Rangers. They have hit just .203 with runners in scoring position in that stretch. But this has been a team effort. In their last four games, the pitching staff has a 5.91 ERA, which doesn’t include the 10 unearned runs they have allowed. The bullpen has allowed 60 percent (6 of 10) of its inherited runners to score this season, which is the second-worst mark in baseball.

I’ve heard countless baseball people say pennants can’t be won in April, but they can be lost. The Phillies entered the season with a very small margin for error. They don’t want to bury themselves too deep too quickly, but a 3-7 start would have them on the way.

Sloppy Times, Sign of Times?

Ryne SandbergMaybe the Phillies need more pregame drills and pitching talks.

It’s doubtful actually. The Phillies are on the field before every game, working on fundamentals. They’re constantly talking to their pitchers about how to attack hitters. But their last three games have been a nightmare for a manager that stressed fundamentals and clean play throughout Spring Training. The Phillies have allowed 10 unearned runs in their last three games to fall to 3-5. They lost their home opener Tuesday, 10-3, and their second home game last night, 9-4.

Elias Sports Bureau said it is the first time the Phillies have lost their first two home games allowing nine or more runs in each game since 1929 at Baker Bowl.

A closer look at some ugly numbers:

  • The Phillies lead baseball with 10 unearned runs. No other team in baseball has more than seven (Padres and Marlins).
  • Elias Sports Bureau found it is the first time the Phillies have allowed 10 or more unearned runs in three consecutive games since they allowed 10 from July 26-29, 2008. Interestingly, the Phillies went 3-0 in those games while they went 0-3 in these three.
  • They are fourth in baseball with nine errors. Only the Dodgers, Marlins and Rangers have more with 11.
  • Since they scored 14 runs on Opening Day, the Phillies are averaging 3.57 runs per game, which is 21st in baseball.
  • They are 25th with a .197 average with runners in scoring position since Opening Day.

You hate to say the ninth game of the season is a must win, but if the Phillies lose tonight with Cliff Lee on the mound, A.J. Burnett will be asked to outpitch Marlins ace Jose Fernandez tomorrow night. Fernandez went 1-0 with a 0.50 ERA in three starts last season against the Phillies, striking out 16 batters in 18 innings and holding them to a .359 OPS. Fernandez has been dominant in his first two starts this season: eight hits, one run, two walks and 17 strikeouts in 12 2/3 innings. If the Phillies play anywhere close to the way they’ve played the last three games against Fernandez tomorrow night they’ve got no chance.

“It’s possible early-season stuff, but we’re still in the process of ironing that stuff out and continuing to work at it and stress it, that’s for sure,” Ryne Sandberg said.

Boo Braun?

Ryan Braun, Carlos GomezSo, what should Phillies fans do to Ryan Braun tonight at Citizens Bank Park? They booed him yesterday, and he responded with three home runs.

“I love it,” Braun said about the boos. “It’s great. Seriously. As a competitor, I really do enjoy it. For all of us, it’s a challenging game, a long season, and playing in an atmosphere and environment like this is certainly something that’s motivating. … I try to use it to my advantage. As a competitor, the more hostile environment, the more enjoyable it can be. Just focus on the things I can control. I try to prepare myself every day to be successful. It’s great when we’re coming into these places and winning games; I think here and Boston are two of the most challenging places in baseball to come into and win games.”

Hamels Could Be Back Soon

Cole Hamels, Kevin YoukilisCole Hamels could rejoin the Phillies rotation a little earlier than expected.

He made a rehab start Sunday with Class A Clearwater, throwing about 65 pitches. He said he believes he will be ready to pitch in the big leagues once he builds to 90 pitches. He might need just two more rehab starts to hit that number. If that is the case, he will make rehab starts Friday and April, which would put him on course to pitch for the Phillies on April 21 or 22.

“I feel really good,” he said today at Citizens Bank Park. “My strength is definitely increasing. Just building up, getting out there, getting the reps in. Being able to throw all five pitches, is truly a good test. Because you’re going against guys that are competitive, they’re swinging. So you have to throw strikes and you have to execute pitches. But everything went really well. Health-wise, I feel really great.

“I believe the big test is the pitch count. If I’m able to get 90 pitches, I know that I’m game ready. Because that gives me enough pitches and enough reps with my pitches to be able to go out there and have the confidence I can throw, especially to big league guys. … There’s nothing lingering. I’m ready to go and they’re letting me go. And I think that’s where we’re really going, we’re playing it by ear, where we have the proper structure and they’re not pushing me too fast, too quickly. And i think everything is going really well.”

Utley Out with Flu

home opener 2014Chase Utley got sent home from the ballpark today because of the flu.

That’s a blow to the Phillies lineup. Utley entered the day leading the National League with a 1.369 OPS.

Cesar Hernandez will play second. Carlos Ruiz will hit third.

Home Opener Postponed to Tuesday

Nationals Phillies BaseballThe Phillies have postponed Monday’s home opener at Citizens Bank Park because of a forecast for “considerable rain.”

The game against the Brewers has been moved to Tuesday at 4:05 p.m. ET, when the weather is supposed to be better.

“It makes sense to me with the clean weather after that,” Ryne Sandberg said following Sunday’s 8-3 loss to the Cubs at Wrigley Field. “Especially Opening Day. That’s always a big deal. To have that misfire and not be a big deal would be disappointing to everybody. I think it’s smart, very smart. I’m totally on board with it.”

The Phillies said tickets for Monday will be honored for Tuesday, which was an open date on the Phillies’ schedule to accommodate the possibility of inclement weather. All gates, including Ashburn Alley, will open at 1:35 p.m.

Phillies right-hander Kyle Kendrick remains scheduled to start the home opener, but the postponement affects the team’s starting-pitching plans later in the week. The Phillies now need a fifth starter Saturday instead of next Sunday.

Ruben Amaro Jr. mentioned two choices: right-hander Jonathan Pettibone or right-hander David Buchanan, who was one of Spring Training’s best performers. Pettibone pitched Sunday afternoon for Triple-A Lehigh Valley, allowing four hits, three runs, one walk and striking out two in five innings against Pawtucket. Buchanan is scheduled to pitch Tuesday. He allowed two hits, two walks and struck out five in six scoreless innings last week against Pawtucket. Right-hander Jeff Manship is in the Phillies’ bullpen. He also had a nice spring and has started in the past.

“We’ll have some conversations about that,” Sandberg said.

If Buchanan pitches, he would be pitching on short rest.

“It wouldn’t be ideal, but we could,” Amaro said.

“That could be a tough task,” Sandberg said. “But we’ll see how we manage that and see what the smart thing to do is and who the best candidate would be. We have a couple guys in mind. We’ll have conversations.”

If the Phillies decide to pitch Buchanan on short rest, they also would need to place him on the 40-man roster. The roster is currently at its limit, so they would need to make room for him.

The Phillies said home opener pregame festivities, including the Citizens Bank Way Opening Day Party and on-field performances, will take place Tuesday. The Citizens Bank Way Opening Day Party will now begin at 1 p.m. Standing room only tickets will go on sale at noon Tuesday at the first-base ticket windows. The game will be broadcast live on MLB.TV and NBC10 and will air on WPHT (1210 AM), SportsRadio 94 WIP (94.1 FM) and in Spanish on WTTM (1680 AM).

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 277 other followers