Phillies

Blue Jays 6, Phillies 4: Phils warn Alec Asher against getting 'cutter-happy'

Blue Jays 6, Phillies 4: Phils warn Alec Asher against getting 'cutter-happy'

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The offense remains a work in progress, and manager Pete Mackanin believes it's time to get the regulars more work as the Phillies near the end of their second week of spring games.

"Our guys haven't gotten into the swing of it right now," Mackanin said. "They need more at-bats. I've been giving a lot of the at-bats to the younger guys to get a look at them and some of the guys trying to make the team."

One of the regulars Mackanin thinks can get his bat working quickly is Howie Kendrick, who had a bases-loaded two-run single Thursday off Blue Jays reliever Tim Mayza.

"Kendrick has been hitting the ball up the middle a lot and not a lot to show for it," Mackanin said. "Today, you could see what he is capable of doing."

The Phillies didn't get a hit until Freddy Galvis' single off Joe Smith with two outs in the bottom of the fifth inning. Logan Moore followed with a single and Smith walked Aaron Altherr and Cesar Hernandez to bring in a run.

The Phillies were able to get only five base hits in the game and Tommy Joseph hit a ninth-inning home run in the Blue Jays' 6-4 win. 

"It was good to see Joseph hit that home run," Mackanin said. "And Kendrick had the big single. Other than that we needed more hits."

Mackanin also credited Blue Jays starter Francisco Liriano, who didn't allow a hit and struck out five in three innings.

"Liriano set the tone. He was really tough," Mackanin said. "He looked like he was on his game with his changeup, tailing slider and the fastball."

Asher goes back to sinker
Alec Asher gave up back-to-back doubles to Kevin Pillar and Kendrys Morales before pitching his way out of trouble in his three-inning stint. 

Mackanin said it was a case of Asher's becoming too enamored with his cutter, and he needed an early visit from pitching coach Bob McClure.

"Asher got cutter-happy in the first inning," Mackanin said. "McClure reminded him that his sinker is his best pitch, he went to that and went unscathed the rest of the way. The first year that he pitched for us, he developed this sinker. That really made a difference for him, and when he came back last year it was obvious his sinker was a real money pitch. A lot of these guys when they learn how to throw a cutter, they get cutter-happy."

Asher gave up one run and six hits with a strikeout and a walk.

Up next
Clay Buchholz will start against Yankees righty Luis Cessa in Clearwater on Friday.

Source: Phillies finalizing 2-year deal with Tommy Hunter

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USA Today Images

Source: Phillies finalizing 2-year deal with Tommy Hunter

Matt Klentak keeps adding to his bullpen.

The Phillies are finalizing a two-year deal with reliever Tommy Hunter, a source confirmed to NBC Sports Philadelphia's Jim Salisbury on Tuesday night.

The experienced right-hander will join veteran righty Pat Neshek, who is on the verge of re-signing with the Phillies, multiple sources said on Monday (see story).

Hunter, 31, has played for five teams over parts of 10 seasons. In 61 games (58 2/3 innings) with the Rays in 2017, Hunter posted career bests with a 2.61 ERA, 0.97 WHIP and .202 opponents' batting average, to go with 64 strikeouts and 14 walks.

(More coming...)

Phillies seem content to wait on Manny Machado, pursue him as free agent next year

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Phillies seem content to wait on Manny Machado, pursue him as free agent next year

Updated: 9:50 p.m.

ORLANDO. Fla. — The Baltimore Orioles are shopping Manny Machado for a trade.

The Phillies love Machado.

So the Phils will do the deal, right?

It's not that simple.

Machado remained a hot topic on Day 2 of the winter meetings Tuesday and the lobby buzz made it all the way to the Phillies' war room. General manager Matt Klentak would not take questions about any specific players — that would be a tampering violation — but he was posed with a scenario that would reflect Machado's situation.

Machado, 25, will be a free agent after the 2018 season. Therefore, he is under contractual control for just one more season.

So, Klentak was asked whether he would be willing to give up a slew of young talent — that's what it would take to get Machado — for a player under control only for a short period of time.

Klentak mulled the question. He covered all sides in his answer. But in the end, it sure sounded as if he would not be willing to pay the price to trade for a player like Machado. It sounded as if he'd rather roll the dice that Machado became a free agent in a year then try to get him for just money and not prospects.

"It obviously becomes more attractive to us if a player is under control for future years, plural," Klentak said. "If it’s a one-year contract before free agency, it’s less attractive. It doesn’t mean we wouldn’t do it. I realize these are less notable players than what you’re suggesting, but we’ve done that with some bullpen and starting pitcher additions the past couple years to acquire a player on a one-year deal. It really depends on what the return is, what would we have to give up in exchange for that player, whether that makes sense to acquire a player on a short-term contract. The years of control matter.

"I think we have to be open-minded to those scenarios, but the scenario you outlined presents some challenges that make it less likely. But we’re open-minded to just about everything."

Any team that acquires Machado, a slugging left-side infielder, this winter would have to be granted a 72-hour window from the Commissioner's Office to hammer out a contract extension before the deal is consummated. Even then, the deal would cost a team prospects and money. Look for the Phillies to stay in touch with the Orioles and monitor their asking price throughout the winter. But clearly, the Phillies prefer to hold on to as many of their young core players and prospects as they can as they seek to acquire players who would propel them closer to the top of the National League East.

This doesn't mean the Phillies would not be willing to subtract a young player or two for the right talent. The Phillies are looking for starting pitching and sources say they've investigated the possibility of acquiring young, under-control pitchers such as Chris Archer of the Rays and Michael Fulmer of the Tigers.

The Phillies are likely to add starting pitching through a trade, possibly one that involves shortstop Freddy Galvis or second baseman Cesar Hernandez. A person with a club from a team seeking a second baseman was asked about Hernandez on Tuesday. The person said the Phillies were being more aggressive in their efforts to move Galvis than they were Hernandez. That does not mean Hernandez will not be traded. The Phillies have set an extremely high price on him because he has three more years of contractual control and that is very valuable.

The Phillies' need for starting pitching and their deep pockets have led to a connection to free-agent Jake Arrieta. The Phillies, as is winter meetings custom, met with Arrieta's agent, Scott Boras, but it's highly unlikely they would sign the pitcher because he will be 32 next season and word is he is seeking a deal that could approach $200 million. The Phillies don't believe they are far enough along in their rebuild to commit those dollars and the years it would take to get Arrieta. So don't hold your breath on that one (see story). If Arrieta is still out there in February and his price tag came way down, well, check back then.

"We've spent the last day and a half meeting with most of the prominent agents in the industry — a lot of agents represent players we're targeting and players we're not targeting — and I can understand why sometimes the connection will get made that may not be perfectly accurate," Klentak said. 

"We're very cognizant of the fact that we're a large-market team that has carried large payrolls in the past and does not have a lot of future commitments. We know this about ourselves, the agents know this about us, the fans know this about us. I think it's natural to connect the Phillies to players who are going to command a lot of money. 

"I've said this before: There will come a time where those connections will be accurate and we will spend again. For where we are right now, we are very committed to giving the reps to our young players and it would take a pretty special set of circumstances for us to deviate from that."

Klentak wants to improve the Phillies' "run prevention." It would be nice to add a starting pitcher — you can pretty much bet the Phillies will — but run prevention can also be addressed in the bullpen. Klentak suggested it was likely that the team would add another veteran reliever beyond Pat Neshek in the coming days (see story), and it is as the Phillies are finalizing a two-year deal with right-hander Tommy Hunter, according to a source Tuesday (see story).