Phillies

Phillies Notes: Kevin Siegrist adds another lefty weapon to the bullpen

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AP Images

Phillies Notes: Kevin Siegrist adds another lefty weapon to the bullpen

MIAMI — In the NL East alone, the Phillies have to face dangerous lefty hitters such as Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy of the Nationals, Michael Conforto (Mets), Christian Yelich and Justin Bour (Marlins) and Freddie Freeman (Braves).

Next year, if everything breaks right, the Phillies will have some late-game weapons to battle those sluggers.

On Saturday, the Phillies claimed 28-year-old lefty reliever Kevin Siegrist on waivers from the St. Louis Cardinals. Siegrist, who is arbitration eligible in 2018 but under team control through 2019, joins two other lefties in the Phillies' 'pen: Adam Morgan and Hoby Milner.

“We (as an organization) have liked (Siegrist) for the past few years,” Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said before Saturday’s game against the Marlins. “I feel happy that we’ve got a chance to look at him.”

Drafted by the Cardinals in the 41st round in 2008, Siegrist has carved out a significant career as a set-up reliever.  

He is 18-10 with a 3.43 ERA in five major-league seasons, all with St. Louis. He went 7-1 with a 2.17 ERA in 81 appearances in 2015. Last year, he went 6-3 with a 2.77 ERA in 67 games.

This year, though, he was 1-1 with a 4.98 ERA in 39 appearances. He landed on the disabled list in late June, missing nearly one month, and perhaps that heavy usage in 2015 and ’16 has caught up to Siegrist, whose velocity dropped this year amid a forearm injury, according to reports.

“I don’t know much about his injuries,” Mackanin said.

Siegrist hasn’t pitched since Aug. 3, but he did not allow a run in seven of his final eight appearances with the Cardinals.

“I’m anxious to see where he fits,” Mackanin said. “Those two guys (Morgan and Milner) have been outstanding — two nice pieces to have. And if we can add another (lefty reliever), that would be even better.”

Here are some more Phillies notes beyond the Siegrist acquisition:

• RHP Jerad Eickhoff’s season ended officially Saturday when the Phillies placed him on the 60-day disabled list. Eickhoff has been out since Aug. 30 because of nerve irritation and numbness in his right hand.

“It was a pretty clean image,” Mackanin said of the MRI Eickhoff had Friday, “nothing to be overly concerned about.”

Eickhoff, 27, was on the rise in 2016, going 11-14 with a 3.65 ERA in 197 1/3 innings. This year, though, he finished 4-8 with a 4.71 ERA in 128 innings, and Mackanin indicated Eickhoff will have to battle for a job in the rotation once the spring of 2018 arrives.

“He’s a candidate,” Mackanin said of Eickhoff, who was on the disabled list twice this year. “I’d like to think he would be because he was solid for us last year.”  

• RHP Jake Thompson will be recalled from Triple A Lehigh Valley so he can start against the Marlins on Sunday. The 23-year-old rookie is 1-1 with a 5.40 ERA for the Phillies this year, making six appearances, including three starts.

Thompson went 5-14 with a 5.25 ERA and a 1.546 WHIP in 22 starts at Lehigh Valley this year.

“He didn’t have a very good season at Triple A,” Mackanin said. “But he has pitched relatively well for us the couple of times he’s been up here.”

• Siegrist is the second veteran reliever the Phillies have picked up on waivers this week, joining right-hander Juan Nicasio. The Phillies got Nicasio from the Pirates on Thursday, and he picked up a relief win Friday despite getting just one out on three pitches.

“I told him we’re not going to pay him,” Mackanin joked. “He only threw three pitches to get the win. That’s not fair.”

Carlos Santana is ready to show Maikel Franco the way

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NBC Sports Philadelphia

Carlos Santana is ready to show Maikel Franco the way

CLEARWATER, Fla. – The numbering is a little off in the Phillies’ spring training clubhouse. Usually lockers are assigned in numerical sequence, clockwise around the room. But this spring, No. 41 comes after No. 7.

Why?

Because that’s the way Carlos Santana wanted it.

“I told the team that I wanted Maikel Franco right next to me,” the new first baseman said after his first workout with the club Saturday. “That's something that I wanted. I really like him. He's a special kid. I appreciate him a lot. And, not only him, the whole group is nice. But I really want to work with him and help him out.”

Santana, 31, and Franco, 25, are both natives of the Dominican Republic. They bonded this winter. After Santana signed with the Phillies in December, he worked out at the Phillies' academy in the DR with Franco.

It’s no secret this is a big year for Franco (see story). He needs to finally put together his potential or the team may look elsewhere – hello, Manny Machado – for its next third baseman.

Franco’s big area of need is Santana’s area of strength: Plate discipline. Santana walks almost as much as he strikes out. He has registered a career on-base percentage of .365 while averaging 24 homers over the last seven seasons. Franco has pop – he has hit 25 and 24 homers, respectively, the last two seasons – but his career on-base percentage is just .300 after a dip to .281 last season.

Santana has reached at least 100 walks twice in his career and at least 91 four other times. Franco had a career-best 41 walks last season.

Santana praised Victor Martinez for being a mentor to him early in his career. “That’s why I wear No. 41,” he said. Santana wants to be Franco’s Victor Martinez.

“We’re going to work together every single day,” Santana said. “We’re going to make sure he executes the plan he wants to follow. I know he’s a guy that’s very talented and he’s capable of a lot. So I’m going to be there. I’m committed to helping him. I’m going to be in the cage, hitting as many balls as possible. He already told me today that he wants to follow me everywhere he goes. If I have to go to the cage he’s going to go with me to hit some balls. He’s committed and I’m committed, too.”

The Phillies have baseball’s second-worst on-base percentage (.307, San Diego is .303) the last six seasons. The additions of Santana and J.P. Crawford to the lineup – and a full season of Rhys Hoskins, another selective hitter – should help the offense.

“When you have a guy (like Santana) in the middle of the lineup, grinding down the opposing pitcher – just imagine, you’re a pitcher on the other side and you’re delivering pitch after pitch that’s getting fouled off or a ball that is just off the corner and being taken, you get exhausted,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “Guess who benefits from that? The next man up and the next man up and there’s this ripple effect. An exhausted starting pitcher or even an exhausted reliever is a really good thing for the Philadelphia Phillies.”

Santana signed a three-year, $60 million contract with the Phillies in December. He said the Phillies’ young core reminds him of the group of youngsters that his former team, the Cleveland Indians, brought to the majors in recent seasons.

Unlike a number of other free agents who are still jobless in this unusual year for free agents, Santana jumped relatively early at the Phillies’ offer. He said it was “shocking” that so many free agents remain unsigned.

“I know baseball is going through a difficult time right now, with all of the free agents,” Santana said. “But it worked out for me. I am happy. I can only speak for myself, and I am happy I did it the way I did it. It's very surprising because there are a lot of talented free agents out there. I thought it would be very different from what it's been.”

To prepare for the new season and the new team, Santana worked with a personal trainer in the Dominican Republic. In one of the drills, he was forced to push a car.

“It was a complete workout,” he said. “It wasn't only to get ready for preseason, it was also to get ready for the season and be successful during the season.

“It's a positive atmosphere here. I see a lot of young guys, very hungry and very eager to win. You can tell everyone is ready to go here.”

Phillies add experienced candidate to their bullpen

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USA Today Images

Phillies add experienced candidate to their bullpen

CLEARWATER, Fla. – The Phillies on Saturday added to their stock of reliever candidates with the signing of veteran left-hander Fernando Abad to a minor-league contract. Abad will report to big-league camp and compete for a job on the 25-man roster.

The Phillies are likely to have an eight-man bullpen. The addition of Abad gives the Phillies four left-handed relief candidates. Adam Morgan, Hoby Milner and Zac Curtis are all on the 40-man roster. 

Morgan and Milner both shined in the second half of 2017. Morgan recorded a 1.69 ERA in 21 games over the final two months. He pitched 26 2/3 innings over that span, allowed just 16 hits and five runs, struck out 33 and walked six. Milner gave up just two runs in 21 2/3 innings over his last 27 games. He struck out 15 and managed to pitch around 12 walks. He was tough on lefty hitters (.159), but struggled against righties (.377). Curtis was a late-season waiver claim from Seattle. He pitched in just three games with the Phillies. 

Abad, 32, is an eight-year major-league veteran who has made stops in Houston, Washington, Oakland, Minnesota and Boston. He had a 3.30 ERA in 48 games with the Red Sox last season and lefties hit .227 off him.

From the right side, the Phillies have some bullpen depth with closer Hector Neris, veteran setup men Pat Neshek and Tommy Hunter, Luis Garcia and Edubray Ramos. Victor Arano, Ricardo Pinto, Yacksel Rios and Seranthony Dominquez are also on the 40-man roster. 

Dominguez hit 100 mph on the radar gun as a starter last season and is being converted to the bullpen. He is likely to open the season at Double A Reading, but “could be a quick mover,” general manager Matt Klentak said.

The list of bullpen candidates also includes two veterans on minor-league contracts: Pedro Beato and Francisco Rodriguez. The latter is a 16-year veteran who has racked up 437 saves – fourth-most all-time – in his career. Rodriguez was released by the Tigers and Nationals last summer and is trying to make the Phillies as a non-roster invitee to big-league camp.