Saturday, the Phillies beat R.A. Dickey and most of the Blue Jays starting line up 8-5. Vince Velasquez pitched four, 2-run innings; and David Lough, J.P. Arencibia, and Nick Williams hit home runs leading a 14-hit attack. Yoervis Medina struck out the side in the ninth. The Phillies are 9-3 and have the second best record in the Grapefruit League.
Over at the Complex, a drama that will go a long way to determining the success of the Phillies’ regular season was held. It drew at least six coaches as spectators, as well as Matt Klentak and Joe Jordan. Jerad Eickhoff threw to live hitters for the first time since suffering a thumb injury before spring training started. I don’t think it went well.
The simple fact that Eickhoff could throw pain free was a good sign. He looked good during warm-ups in the bull pen. He looked good throwing his pitches from the mound before the first batter stepped into the batter’s box. He looked good getting lead off batter Chase Harris to ground out to first. Then he stopped looking so good.
Cord Sandberg made the second out but scorched a line drive to the shortstop while making it. Carlos Tocci lifted a hard hit, high, fly ball into the right center field gap that split the outfielders perfectly and rolled to the warning track. He beat a perfect relay as he slid in with a triple. Eickhoff didn’t record another out during the inning and it was eventually rolled.
Eickhoff’s travails continued as he could only record two outs during the his second inning. He issued a walk and gave up more hard hit balls. In his second trip through the line up, he gave up a line drive single to Harris and a line drive double to right center by Sandberg before the inning was rolled. Unofficially, he gave up 3, maybe 4 runs.
Eickhoff did not return for a third inning. I overheard a portion of his post workout interview with Scott Palmer and Meghan Montemurro. He was up beat and positive about the experience. However, I can’t help but focus on the fact that he failed to retire the side in either inning against a line up of Phuture Threshers.
The remainder of the day saw the same procession of pitchers as on Thursday minus Kilome, only today they started innings with runners on base. Kilome threw a bullpen earlier and we guessed that that pitchers are going to start throwing according their position in the rotation. So, no worries.
Just a few notes:
- Pitchers were still facing a pitch count in each inning.
- Jhailyn Ortiz went yard with a 3-run HR off Luis Morales while I was watching Eickhoff. Figures.
- Juan Luis tripled deep into the left center field gap. Randolph retrieved the ball and threw strongly to Luis Espiritu whose throw beat Luis to the bag. As Luke Williams applied the tag, Luis’ feet-first slide into his glove dislodged the ball. This play was the first time I saw Randolph make a throw that mattered. His arm looked strong. His route to the ball was a little suspect.
- Randolph is now batting with protection on his right ankle. He’s still working counts, but looks a little frustrated at some of the called strikes. I understand his frustration, the pitches he is reacting to don’t look like they are in the zone. He struck out on one such pitch down and away after it had been called a strike earlier in the count.
- I saw Kyle Martin and Luke Williams line hard singles to right off Ryan Frankoff.
- Some players were playing with different groups than their original assignments.
- Jan Hernandez was in uniform and reportedly feeling better after hitting a ball off his knee on Friday but did not take part in the game. His unavailability probably explains Espiritu moving up to G3 for the game.
- Alberto Tirado pitched for G3 and toyed with the younger batters he faced in G4. He used more off-speed stuff to get ahead of the young batters and got them out swinging at pitches out of the zone.
- Aaron Brown crushed a 3-run HR over the CF fence on the adjacent field. I didn’t see the pitcher.
- I overheard one of the pitchers say, “Swiper, no swiping”. Are the Phillies using Dora the Explorer to help them learn Spanish?
Greg Burke and Gregory Infante were reassigned to minor league camp on Saturday.
Kyle Kendrick was released by the Atlanta Braves.
There’s a game against the Canadian Junior team in St. Pete today. Camp day tomorrow. Spring training games start against the Blue Jays on Tuesday.
Oh, I’m taking the day off to spend with my wife. Between her working and my baseball, we hardly see each other. Back to live reporting tomorrow.