Phillies

Freddy Galvis not in Phillies' starting lineup for 1st time in 2017

Freddy Galvis not in Phillies' starting lineup for 1st time in 2017

WASHINGTON — After starting all 140 of the Phillies' previous games this season, shortstop Freddy Galvis was out of the lineup Friday night.

Galvis sat to accommodate rookie J.P. Crawford. The Phillies’ brass wants to evaluate Crawford's readiness for a possible role in April. Crawford played the previous three games at third base. He is expected to play second base on Saturday night with Galvis returning to shortstop.

Galvis' goal of starting all 162 games is dead.

Difficult?

"A little bit," Galvis said. "But it's baseball. You have to understand baseball. It's September. You know what's going on. I just try to play hard and do my best."

Manager Pete Mackanin had hoped to accommodate Galvis' desire to start all 162 games and also get a look at Crawford at shortstop five or six times this month. Mackanin's plan was to use Galvis in the outfield when Crawford played shortstop. Galvis played a game in center field during the Phillies' last homestand, but came down with a bit of a sore arm afterward.

"My arm didn't feel too good," he said. "I'll stay at shortstop now until the end of the season."

Mackanin said he would try to get Galvis into every game by using him as a pinch hitter.

"I think I can do that," Mackanin said.

Mackanin added, "I'd like to see Freddy win the Gold Glove this year. I think he deserves it. I thought he deserved it last year."

San Francisco's Brandon Crawford won the NL Gold Glove at shortstop the last two seasons.

It's not every day that a 27-year-old, Gold Glove-caliber shortstop is not considered a team's shortstop of the future. But this is where the Phillies are at the moment. Though gifted defensively, Galvis does not have the on-base skills that this Phillies front office yearns for. His career on-base percentage is just .286. Crawford has a career on-base mark of .368 in the minors. Phillies officials have not closed the door on Galvis, but they want to see if Crawford can be the guy at the position next season. If they believe he can be, the Phils are expected to shop Galvis for a trade. If not, Galvis will be the guy again next season, his last before free agency.

General manager Matt Klentak has many decisions to make in the infield this winter. Rhys Hoskins is expected to play first base next season with Tommy Joseph going on the trading block. Both Galvis and second baseman Cesar Hernandez could be shopped. (The Phils have a second baseman coming in Scott Kingery. He could arrive a month or so into the 2018 season.) The Phils would listen to offers for third baseman Maikel Franco, though his value is down after a poor season. It's not out of the realm of possibility that Crawford could play third next season. There are a lot of ways the Phils could go.

"There’s been a lot of speculation about our infield and how do you make room for all these players," Klentak said. "That’s something we’re continuing to gather information on right now to help us make that decision. It’s something I’m sure we’ll field plenty of [trade] inquiries throughout the offseason. We’ll just have to see where that takes us. It’s certainly not the end of the world to go into next year with all of these infielders we currently have in the organization. We can make that work. But if there’s an opportunity to utilize that depth to help us in other areas, then we’ll consider that as well."

Klentak added that it was too early to say where Crawford would play in the future, though it sounds like he will be the guy at short.

"It's four days into his major-league career," Klentak said. "I don't want to project too much on his positional future. But I think we've seen enough over the course of his minor-league career to know he's a major-league shortstop. He can play defense at the major-league level. We've seen over the last couple of weeks in the minor leagues and the first few days in the big leagues, he's got pretty good instincts at third base, too. The fact that we have a talented young player that can play multiple spots, it opens a lot of doors for us.

"There's no one way to win a game or to build a winning team. If we have more players that can do more things, that should bode well for the organization."

Phillies pitcher Nick Pivetta goes to school on Justin Verlander

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Phillies pitcher Nick Pivetta goes to school on Justin Verlander

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DUNEDIN, Fla. — For a gazillion years, pitchers have been told to keep the ball down. That is still valuable advice, but with more and more hitters looking to launch the ball with an upward swing path these days, power pitchers are striking back with a high fastball above the bat head.

Nick Pivetta has a power fastball and he’s working on this technique. He consciously threw some fastballs above the belt in his two-inning spring debut Friday against the Toronto Blue Jays.

“We're telling all of our pitchers, we're asking them to do some new things,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “And there's going to be some times in spring training games when you get hit a little bit.”

That’s OK. The new-school Phillies want their players to be open to new ideas. Pivetta, who struck out 9.5 batters per nine innings in 26 starts last season, is open learning to ride a high fastball by a hitter looking to launch. He watched on television as Justin Verlander did that for Houston in the postseason last year and he’s watched more video of Verlander and interacted with Phillies coaches about the strategy this spring.

“A key point that they brought to me was how Verlander pitched in the playoffs,” Pivetta said. “I think that’s something I can learn from a lot of the time, how he did it when he came over to Houston.

“It’s part of pitching. You’ve got to be able to command the zone, both the top and bottom. It’s not to say we’re going to only throw up. It’s just something else to work on.”

Pivetta pitched two innings and struck out three in the 2-1 loss to the Blue Jays. He allowed three hits, a walk and two runs in the first inning. One of the hits was a solo homer by Curtis Granderson on a hanging breaking ball.

Kapler was pleased with Pivetta’s performace and his reponse to trying new things.

“He executed his game plan today,” Kapler said. “He executed some pretty nasty sliders at the bottom of the zone. He executed some fastballs at the top of the zone. He missed some bats, which is really encouraging.

“One of the things we’re working on with him is elevating a little bit. He has velocity and strong pitch characteristics to pitch up in the zone. But he also has the ability to pitch down in the zone with his slider and his curveball.

“He kicked ass today. He did everything we asked him to do.”

The Phillies host the Orioles on Saturday. Zach Eflin will be the starting pitcher.

Lost and found — K-Rod enjoys solid debut with Phillies

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Lost and found — K-Rod enjoys solid debut with Phillies

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DUNEDIN, Fla. — Francisco Rodriguez navigated the narrow streets of this friendly, little, old-school spring training burg looking for a place to park his Mercedes late Friday morning.

Finally, after asking several people for directions, he found a spot near the grounds crew shed at Dunedin Stadium.

The episode was a bit of a metaphor for Rodriguez’s workday with the Phillies. Back on the mound in a game situation for the first time since last summer, Rodriguez allowed a walk to the first batter he faced and later a single, but stayed composed and left two runners on base in notching a scoreless inning in his first action of the spring in a 2-1 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays.

“I felt kind of lost the first couple of batters,” Rodriguez said. “But once I got a ground ball, I started locating. It had been a while since I was on the mound in a game.”

Rodriguez, 36, is the most decorated player in Phillies camp. He is a six-time All-Star and baseball’s active leader in saves (437) and appearances (948). Released twice last season, he is trying to win a spot in the Phillies’ bullpen as a non-roster invite to camp.

He opened last season as Detroit’s closer, but was released in June after recording a 7.82 ERA in 28 games. The Nationals took a peek at him in the minors a few weeks later and also let him go.

Rodriguez said he was not healthy last season. He said he had issues with his groin and hamstring.

“I couldn’t be 100 percent,” he said. “But that’s not an excuse. I should have found a way to get the job done in Detroit and I couldn’t. That’s one of the reasons that I’m in this situation now.”

Rodriguez ranks fourth all time in saves behind Mariano Rivera, Trevor Hoffman and Lee Smith. He does not have the power fastball that once earned him the nickname K-Rod — he topped out at 89 mph Friday — but location, a good changeup and old-fashioned savvy are still strengths. Pitching coach Rick Kranitz was influential in bringing in Rodriguez for a look. The two were together in Milwaukee, where Rodriguez was an All-Star in 2014 and 2015.

“He’s a great reliever,” Kranitz said.

Does he have anything left?

“I believe so, yes,” Kranitz said.

Kranitz went on to say that Rodriguez was a high-character guy who would help the Phillies’ young pitchers.

Rodriguez was asked what pushed him to continue his career and come to camp essentially on a tryout.

“I love the game,” he said. “I don’t think I have to prove anything. I don’t think I went to Walmart and bought 900 appearances and 437 saves. I did that with a lot of pride and hard work. This is the only thing I know how to do, play baseball. God gave me the opportunity to throw a baseball and I’m going to continue to do it.”

The Phillies may go with an eight-man bullpen. That could help Rodriguez’s chances of sticking. But he will have to pitch well.

“I’m looking forward to having a great spring,” he said.