Phillies 9, Twins 5: Adam Morgan impresses, offense rallies for 6 in ninth

Phillies 9, Twins 5: Adam Morgan impresses, offense rallies for 6 in ninth


FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Phillies held what looked like an audition for the role of long reliever on Tuesday.

Adam Morgan acquitted himself quite well with three scoreless innings against the Minnesota Twins.

Jake Thompson, a long shot for the role, also worked three scoreless innings and did a good job pitching out of trouble when his command abandoned him in the third inning.

Alec Asher, meanwhile, was hit hard. He allowed two homers and gave up five runs in the bottom of the eighth inning on his way to losing a three-run lead.

The Phillies came back with six runs in the top of the ninth inning to win, 9-5.

Five of the seven jobs in the Phillies' bullpen are basically set with Jeanmar Gomez, Hector Neris, Joaquin Benoit, Edubray Ramos and Pat Neshek (see 25-man projection).

Morgan, Asher, Luis Garcia and Joely Rodriguez are the top candidates for the remaining two slots. Thompson has received some light consideration, but he really needs to go to Triple-A and work as a starter. Non-roster lefties Sean Burnett and Cesar Ramos are also in the mix, but could end up on the outside looking in because they are not on the 40-man roster and the Phils have little flexibility there.

Morgan did not hurt his chances on being a lefty long man with his performance Tuesday. He allowed a leadoff double, but pitched out of trouble. In all, he gave up a hit, a walk and struck out two.

Mackanin and pitching coach Bob McClure want to see Morgan use more finesse -- soft stuff in fastball counts -- in his repertoire and the pitcher did that in this outing.

"He pitched the way we would like to see him pitch," Mackanin said. "He really had a good mixture of soft and hard. He kind of pitched backward today, which I think he's going to have to do to be successful. He showed us he can do that so that was encouraging.

"He upset the timing of hitters. That's why he was effective.

"I want to see him a few more times. He needs to pitch the remainder of the spring the way he pitched today."

Life on the bubble of a big-league roster in the final days of camp can be stressful. Morgan learned to handle it last year when he pitched well as a starter only to end up opening the season in Triple-A.

"I'm not getting too high or too low," Morgan said. "Last year I was like, 'I've got a shot, I've got a shot,' and then … So, really I'm just taking it one day at a time, trying to do my best out there. Just see how the chips fall.

"You have to check your ego at the door. In my case, you're never solidified into a spot. So I just come in and do the best I can."

The offense ...
Well, it was productive.

The Phils had 15 hits in the game, including a pair of homers by Freddy Galvis and Aaron Altherr. Altherr's homer started a six-run rally in the ninth. Roman Quinn tied the game with a pinch-hit double and Odubel Herrera singled home the go-ahead run with his second hit of the day (more on Herrera here).

"It was good to score a lot of runs," Mackanin said.

Mr. Versatility
Howie Kendrick started at second base.

He will likely get a start at third base before camp ends. He also might get some reps at first base.

"He's our primary left fielder," Mackanin said. "But we want to get him some time in the infield in case a need ever arises."

Kendrick has primarily been a second baseman during his 11 seasons in the majors. He played 94 games in the outfield with the Dodgers last season. The Phillies traded for him to be their left fielder.

Up next
Vince Velasquez opposes Masahiro Tanaka when the Yankees visit Clearwater on Wednesday.

Francisco Rodriguez released by Phillies

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Francisco Rodriguez released by Phillies

CLEARWATER, Fla. – Francisco Rodriguez’ bid to revive his career with a spot in the Phillies’ bullpen ended Saturday when he was granted his unconditional release by the club.

Rodriguez, who ranks fourth all-time in saves, signed a minor-league deal with the Phillies shortly before camp began. He pitched to a 5.40 ERA in 6 2/3 innings and was tagged for 11 hits.

Rodriguez, 36, was released twice last summer, first by Detroit and then by Washington.

This might be the end of the road for Rodriguez. If it is, he had a tremendous career. He racked up 437 saves and was a six-time All-Star in 16 seasons. Only Mariano Rivera, Trevor Hoffman and Lee Smith have more saves.

While Rodriguez’ time in a Phillies uniform will go down as a footnote to his career, he did have the best quote of the spring early in camp.

“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.”

Aaron Nola another Zack Greinke? A quick call-up for Scott Kingery?

Aaron Nola another Zack Greinke? A quick call-up for Scott Kingery?


BRADENTON, Fla. — Gabe Kapler played most of what figures to be his opening day lineup on Friday and the Phillies responded with one of their best games of the Grapefruit League schedule in beating the Pittsburgh Pirates, 8-2.

The only regular not in the starting lineup was shortstop J.P. Crawford. Bench candidate Jesmuel Valentin played there (see story).

Opening day starter Aaron Nola pitched four shutout innings, gave up four hits, a walk and struck out five. He threw 64 pitches and 45 were strikes.

Maikel Franco belted two homers, both bombs to left. One was a two-run shot on a 3-0 fastball, the other a grand slam.

And, of course, it wouldn’t be a good showing by the Phils without another impressive performance from the man who has been the best player in camp, Scott Kingery. He came off the bench, played center field, right field and third base, and stroked a hard single to right.

It is doubtful that Kingery will be on the opening day roster, but it’s looking more and more like he could be up with the big club as soon as April 13. If Kingery stays in the minors until then, the Phillies will control his rights through 2024. If he makes the opening day roster, he could be eligible for free agency after 2023. Keeping Kingery down for a few weeks won’t sit well with some fans, but it makes good baseball sense, especially for a team that does not project as a slam-dunk contender.

Kapler raved about a play Kingery made at third.

“Wow, wow,” the manager said. “His ability to go to his left and make that strong throw. He showed off that incredible arm and that versatility.”

Kapler also liked Franco’s power. The third baseman, entering a make-or-break season with the Phillies, is hitting just .192 on the spring, but he leads the club with five homers. Franco has closed his stance by bringing his front foot closer to the plate. He is getting more comfortable with the stance, which the Phillies hope will prompt him to use the middle of the field and stop pulling off balls.

“He attacked that 3-0 pitch,” Kapler said. “That was pretty impressive.”

Nola said he was “ready to go” for the opener.

Kapler concurred and compared Nola to a former Cy Young winner.

“Perfect tune-up for opening day, got him right where we wanted him with pitches — and he got to that pitch count by throwing strikes, a lot of them, and really attacking with pitches," Kapler said of Nola.

“He’s starting to look to me a lot like — I saw Zack Greinke in the American League when he was with Kansas City — kind of a familiar look to the way that he uses the gas pedal and the brake effectively and fills up the strike zone with all his pitches. His calm, easy, collected demeanor is really reminiscent of some of the best pitchers in baseball.”

The Phillies play the Tigers in Lakeland on Saturday.