Daniel Nava, Adam Morgan take steps toward making Phillies' opening day roster

Daniel Nava, Adam Morgan take steps toward making Phillies' opening day roster

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The Phillies played two games on Wednesday and several of the players on the bubble for opening day roster spots delivered performances that could impact the team's decision making.

Brock Stassi, who had already been in good shape to break with the team, smacked his sixth homer of the spring in the game against the Detroit Tigers at Lakeland.

Daniel Nava belted a three-run home run against Justin Verlander in that game. Nava, hitting .386, has had a good spring. Will that put him over the top and earn him what looks like the final spot on the bench? The decision seems to be down to him or infielder Jesmuel Valentin.

Meanwhile, on the pitching side, all three candidates for the final two jobs in the bullpen pitched on Wednesday.

Things did not go well for Luis Garcia in Lakeland. He needed 45 pitches to get through two innings. He was tagged for five hits and two runs. One of the hits was a double. Garcia did not walk a batter and struck out three.

Garcia could end being the odd man out and be sent to Triple A, where he could be the closer.

Joely Rodriguez and Adam Morgan, the other two candidates for the bullpen openings, both pitched against the Pittsburgh Pirates in Bradenton. Rodriguez worked two scoreless innings and gave up a hit and a walk and struck out one.

Morgan pitched the final three innings in that game and gave up just one run. It seems likely that he will break with the club as the long man.

Rodriguez's performance Wednesday may end up getting him the final spot over Garcia, but manager Pete Mackanin cautioned that nothing had been decided.

More will be known on Thursday. The team leaves Florida on Friday and Mackanin would like to have his roster cut down by then.

Plenty of offense
The Phillies won both of the games by a score of 8-2.

They had 13 hits in both games.

They walked twice in both games.

And struck out 10 times in both games.

All together now ... that's crazy!

Aaron Altherr had three hits, including a homer and a double, in the win over the Pirates. The homer was a bomb over everything in dead-center.

Cam Perkins and Maikel Franco also homered. All three of the homers came against Pirates ace Gerrit Cole. Franco has six homers on the spring.

Nava, Stassi and Rhys Hoskins homered in Lakeland. Michael Saunders had two hits, including a triple.

Remembering Dallas
The Phillies this season will wear a patch on their uniform tops in honor of Dallas Green, the legendary former executive and World Series-winning manager who died last week. The team will debut the patch for the home opener a week from Friday.

Up next
Jerad Eickhoff will make his final spring start Thursday afternoon against the Yankees in Clearwater. Luis Severino will start for the Yankees.

Gabe Kapler names Jim Gott Phillies' bullpen coach

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Gabe Kapler names Jim Gott Phillies' bullpen coach

Gabe Kapler on Friday added to his coaching staff by naming Jim Gott the Phillies' bullpen coach.

Gott was the minor-league pitching coordinator for the Angels the last five seasons and the pitching coach for the Arizona League Angels the three years prior to that role.

He played for the Blue Jays, Giants, Pirates and Dodgers over 14 major-league seasons as a starter and reliever. Gott, now 58 years old, compiled a 3.87 ERA while making 96 starts and converting 91 saves.

Kapler and the Phillies still need to name a pitching coach and first-base coach. Last week, they named Dusty Wathan third-base coach and hired John Mallee as hitting coach, while retaining Rick Kranitz, who was the assistant pitching coach last season (see story). He could fill the main pitching coach vacancy, although his role is currently to be determined.

In 2017, Bob McClure served the Phillies as pitching coach and Mickey Morandini was first-base coach.

MLB Notes: Astros' Jose Altuve, Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton claim MVP awards

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MLB Notes: Astros' Jose Altuve, Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton claim MVP awards

Houston Astros dynamo Jose Altuve has won the American League MVP award, towering over New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge by a wide margin.

The 5-foot-6 Altuve drew 27 of the 30 first-place votes in balloting by members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

Altuve batted a major league-best .346. He hit 24 home runs with 81 RBIs, scored 112 times, stole 32 bases and showed a sharp glove at second base.

The 6-foot-7 Judge won the AL Rookie of the Year award Monday. He set a rookie record with 52 home runs.

Jose Ramirez of the Cleveland Indians finished third. The award was announced Thursday.

Altuve helped lead the Astros to their first World Series championship. Voting for these honors was completed before the postseason began.

Miami Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton won the NL MVP award, barely edging Joey Votto of the Cincinnati Reds.

In the closest MVP vote since 1979, Stanton became only the sixth player to win from a losing team. Stanton led the big leagues with 59 home runs and 132 RBIs (see full story).

MLB: Manfred says pace changes will happen with or without union
Major League Baseball will change rules to speed games next year with or without an agreement with the players' association.

Management proposed last offseason to institute a 20-second pitch clock, allow one trip to the mound by a catcher per pitcher each inning and raise the bottom of the strike zone from just beneath the kneecap to its pre-1996 level at the top of the kneecap. The union didn't agree, and clubs have the right to impose those changes unilaterally for 2018.

Players and MLB have held initial bargaining since summer, and MLB chief legal officer Dan Halem said this week he would like an agreement by mid-January.

"My preferred path is a negotiated agreement with the players, but if we can't get an agreement we are going to have rule changes in 2018 one way or the other," baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said Thursday after a quarterly owners' meeting.

Nine-inning games averaged a record 3 hours, 5 minutes during the regular season and 3:29 during the postseason.

There are ongoing talks for a new posting system with Japan to replace the deal that expired Nov. 1, one that would allow star Japanese pitcher/outfielder Shohei Otani to leave the Pacific League's Nippon Ham Fighters to sign with a big league team (see full story).

Mariners: Team makes trade, raises available money for Japan's Otani​
The Seattle Mariners have gained more flexibility if they want to try to sign star Japanese pitcher/outfielder Shohei Otani.

They acquired an additional $500,000 for their international signing bonus pool from the Chicago White Sox in a trade for Brazilian right-hander Thyago Vieira.

Otani, a 23-year-old right-hander, would be limited to a minor league contract with a signing bonus under Major League Baseball's new collective bargaining agreement. The trade announced Thursday increases the Mariners' available money for a signing bonus to $1,557,500. Seattle has spent $3,942,500 on bonuses in the signing year that started July 2 from a pool that rose to $5.5 million with the trade.

The 24-year-old Vieira made his major league debut with a scoreless inning against Baltimore on Aug. 14, his only big league appearance. He was 2-3 with two saves and a 3.72 ERA in 29 games this year for Double-A Arkansas and 0-1 with two saves and a 4.58 ERA in 12 games for Triple-A Tacoma.

Chicago is restricted to a maximum $300,000 signing bonus because it exceeded its pool in a previous year under the old labor contract.