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.

Tim Tebow's chances of actually playing in majors

uspresswire-mets-tim-tebow.jpg
USA Today Images

Tim Tebow's chances of actually playing in majors

Could "Tim Tebow in the major leagues" actually be a thing in 2018?

The mere suggestion that Tebow could one day rise to baseball's highest level sounded crazy in the summer of 2016 when he signed with the Mets.

One former Phillie referred to it as a "slap in the face."

Longtime baseball man Larry Bowa said this in August 2016:

"Whosever idea it is, they don't respect the game of baseball. It's a hard game. You don't come in at age 28 or 29. I'm not saying he's not a good athlete, but this is a hard game and there are a lot of good athletes in pro ball that never get to the big leagues. 

"I don't think it can happen. There are guys 28 or 29 that are getting released everyday. How can you take 10 years off and all of the sudden be facing guys throwing 95, guys throwing sliders?"

Yet here we are in spring training 2018 and Mets GM Sandy Alderson has said he expects to see Tebow play in The Show.

"Somebody asked me whether I think he'll be a major league player at some point," Alderson told reporters Sunday. "I think he will play in the major leagues. That's my guess. That's my hope, and to some extent now after a year and a half, a modest expectation."

Bovada has set Tebow's odds of playing in the majors in the 2018 or 2019 regular season at 6/1. If you bet against him, it's 1/10, meaning a $100 bet would win you $10.

Tebow played at two levels in 2017: Class A and Class A Advanced. He hit .226/.309/.347 with 24 doubles, eight homers and 52 RBIs in 486 plate appearances. He walked 43 times and struck out 126.

Nearly all of Tebow's minor-league innings have come in left field, where he had 10 errors and two outfield assists in 2017.

Tebow last appeared in the NFL in the 2015 preseason with the Eagles. He went 21 for 36 for 286 yards with two TDs and an interception, adding 82 yards on 14 carries with a TD on the ground but failing to make Chip Kelly's 53-man roster.

Bombs away! Nick Williams takes aim on manager's car in batting practice

Bombs away! Nick Williams takes aim on manager's car in batting practice

CLEARWATER, Fla. — A week into camp, Nick Williams looks primed to build on last year’s impressive rookie season.

Williams has been launching balls in batting practice and manager Gabe Kapler loves it — even if it means he’ll be charged for a little damage to his rental car.

On Tuesday, Williams clubbed a ball far over the fence at Mike Schmidt Field. It landed on the roof of Kapler’s rented Ford Explorer, leaving a dent that would hold a couple of servings of creamed spinach.

“I would trade a Nick Williams home run for a dent in a rental car any day of the week,” Kapler said Tuesday.

“I’m glad he said that,” Williams said Wednesday morning, “because it felt kind of good to hit it.”

Later on Wednesday, Williams put on another power display at Schmidt Field. It was so impressive that Cesar Hernandez considered leaving the field, grabbing his keys and moving his car.

“I just missed Cesar’s car,” Williams said with a laugh.

Kapler was again impressed with Williams’ round of BP.

“Today we had a nice little breeze coming in from right field,” Kapler said. “The breeze did not stop Nick Williams from destroying the baseball and almost hitting my car for a second day straight.

“If he is destroying cars and it happens to be mine, no problem.”

Kapler has no intention of parking elsewhere in coming days. In fact, he likes the idea of Williams using his car for target practice.

“We’re going to make it a bull’s-eye for him,” Kapler said. “That’ll be a running joke. It’s a great way to build relationships. It’s part of the whole scientific plan to make this work.”

Williams, 24, arrived in the majors in June of last season. He played in 83 games and hit .288 with 12 homers, 55 RBIs and an .811 OPS. Like a number of players on the roster, he would benefit from fewer strikeouts and more walks (97/20 in 343 plate appearances last season), but a week into camp, Kapler likes the hitting potential he sees in the young outfielder.

“He’s really shining,” Kapler said. “He really is. He walks around with a perpetual smile on his face.

“Our hitting coaches are enthused about the bat path. The way he sort of lofts the ball to the middle of the field. Some hitters, when they strike their best ball, it’s on the ground. But Nick, when he makes his most solid contract, it has a nice loft to his swing. And in the middle of the field, there aren’t many guys who can drive the ball like he can.”

The Phillies have four outfielders worthy of regular playing time. Rhys Hoskins and Odubel Herrera line up to play left field and center field, respectively. Williams will get time in right. Aaron Altherr can play any outfield position.

Kapler is reluctant to assign roles at this point in camp. But he is confident he can find all four playing time.

“I’m not concerned about that,” he said. “Between pinch-hitting, interleague, someone getting a tweak and missing a week, the occasional rep at first base [for Hoskins], they’re all going to get a ton of reps. I envision plenty of at-bats to keep everybody satisfied, healthy and performing well.”