Phillies

Phillies, on pace for 103 losses, glad to leave San Disaster after being swept by Padres

Phillies, on pace for 103 losses, glad to leave San Disaster after being swept by Padres

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SAN DIEGO — With its idyllic weather, aesthetically pleasing ballpark and tasty fish tacos, San Diego is one of the best stops in baseball.

And the Phillies couldn't wait to get the heck out of town early Wednesday night.

That's how bad their three-day stay was.

Though they are the worst team in the majors, the Phillies hoped for a good showing against a San Diego Padres team that has the worst offense in the majors. All the Phils ended up with was three more losses, capped by a 3-0 shutout Wednesday afternoon in which they made middling Padres lefty Clayton Richard look like Clayton Kershaw (see Instant Replay).

"A very disappointing series here," manager Pete Mackanin said. "We couldn't get the job done.

"We only got three hits today. I'm not happy about the stolen bases. It's embarrassing to me. We didn't execute [defensively] on a double-steal, which we should have. All in all, it was a bad series."

The Phillies were outscored 18-8 in the series. They went 1-5 on the season against the Padres. The Phils are 43-75 on the season and 19-44 on the road. They are on pace for 103 losses. They have not reached triple digits in losses since dropping 107 in 1961.

The silver lining to all this losing could present itself in the form of the top pick in the 2018 draft, a valuable commodity for a rebuilding team.

Pitcher Nick Pivetta has shown himself this season to be a potential building block in the team's starting rotation. On Wednesday, the 24-year-old right-hander provided a look at not only his huge upside, but also the shortcomings that make him a work in progress.

The 6-5 right-hander used a knee-buckling curveball to strike out eight of the first nine batters and a career-high 11 overall, the most by a Phils rookie since Cole Hamels punched out 11 Houston Astros on Sept. 16, 2006.

However, Pivetta walked three, committed a balk and was on the mound for five San Diego stolen bases. Wil Myers singled home the first run of the game with two outs in the fourth then stole second, third and home. Pivetta did a poor job of holding Myers on first and second.

"I wasn't mixing my holds, I guess, enough," Pivetta said. "Something I need to work on. Something I can learn from. For the most part, it was they ran a little bit extra today and that was the difference in the ballgame."

After the game, the Phillies optioned Pivetta to Triple A Lehigh Valley. At first, the move seemed jarring. Upon further review, it appeared to be a paper move (see story). The Phils would like to add a position player as they monitor Odubel Herrera's sore hamstring for a couple of more days. A player like Brock Stassi could come and take Pivetta's roster spot. The Phils can add a 26th man for Tuesday's doubleheader against Miami, and Pivetta could come back and be that man. So it's likely he will not even make a start at Triple A.

"It just kind of works," Mackanin said. "He pitched well today. I like what he did, other than the stolen bases. That's part of the game he needs to work at. Other than that, I thought he was really good."

Catcher Cameron Rupp was impressed.

"He made pitches," Rupp said.

Richard (6-12) entered the game carrying some ugly numbers — a 1.596 WHIP, 188 hits allowed (the most in the majors) and a .323 opponents' batting average (the highest in the majors).

Richard capitalized on a weak Phillies lineup — no Herrera, no Aaron Altherr — and held the Phillies to three hits and a walk in pitching his first shutout in five years.

"We had a bad series swinging the bats as a group," Mackanin said. "But he pitched well today. I give him credit. He mixed it up. He pitched inside, outside. He changed speeds. He did a good job."

Said Rupp: "We hit a lot of balls hard, but right at people. It's a tough part of the game, but you have to deal with it. We didn't get the big hit."

MLB Notes: Braves lose 13 international players in sanctions

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MLB Notes: Braves lose 13 international players in sanctions

ATLANTA -- Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred hit the Atlanta Braves with heavy sanctions, including the loss of 13 players, on Tuesday for rules violations committed by the team in the international player market.

Manfred also placed former Braves general manager John Coppolella on the permanently ineligible list. Former Braves Special Assistant Gordon Blakeley, who was the team's international scouting chief, is suspended from performing services for any team for one year.

Manfred said an investigation conducted by Major League Baseball determined the Braves circumvented international signing rules from 2015 through 2017 by moving bonus pool money from one player to boost another player's contract.

Most notable among the players the Braves will lose is Kevin Maitan, an infielder from Venezuela who signed for $4.25 million in 2016 (see full story).

Yankees: Judge has left shoulder surgery
NEW YORK -- The New York Yankees say slugger Aaron Judge had arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder and is expected to be ready for spring training.

The operation was performed Monday by Dr. Neal ElAttrache in Los Angeles. The Yankees say the procedure involved a loose-body removal and cartilage cleanup.

The 25-year-old Judge hit .284 with 52 homers and 114 RBIs in 155 games this season, helping New York make it to the AL Championship Series, where they lost to the eventual World Series champion Astros. He was a unanimous selection for AL Rookie of the Year and finished second to Houston infielder Jose Altuve in the AL MVP race.

MLB: Morgan urges voters to keep steroid users out of HOF
Hall of Fame second baseman Joe Morgan is urging voters to keep "known steroid users" out of Cooperstown.

A day after the Hall revealed its 33-man ballot for the 2018 class, the 74-year-old Morgan argued against the inclusion of players implicated during baseball's steroid era in a letter to voters with the Baseball Writers' Association of America. The letter from the vice chairman of the Hall's board of directors was sent Tuesday using a Hall email address.

"Steroid users don't belong here," Morgan wrote. "What they did shouldn't be accepted. Times shouldn't change for the worse."

Hall voters have been wrestling with the issue of performance-enhancing drugs for several years. Baseball held a survey drug test in 2003 and the sport began testing for banned steroids the following year with penalties. Accusations connected to some of the candidates for the Hall vary in strength from allegations with no evidence to positive tests that caused suspensions (see full story).

Cubs: Venable leaves front office to be base coach
CHICAGO -- Will Venable is leaving the Chicago Cubs front office to be their first base coach.

The former major league outfielder was hired last summer as a special assistant to president of baseball operations Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer.

The 35-year-old Venable replaces Brandon Hyde, who has been promoted to bench coach for manager Joe Maddon.

The Cubs also announced Tuesday that they had hired Jim Benedict as a special assistant to baseball operations. Benedict spent the previous two seasons as the vice president for pitching development for the Miami Marlins.

Phillies add 4 pitching prospects to 40-man roster

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Phillies add 4 pitching prospects to 40-man roster

The Phillies added four promising pitching prospects to their 40-man roster on Monday. In a corresponding move, they subtracted a notable name.

Right-handers Franklyn Kilome, Seranthony Dominguez and Jose Taveras and lefty Ranger Suarez were all added to the roster, protecting them from being selected by another club in next month's Rule 5 draft.

The Phillies also added an infielder, Engelb Vielma, to the roster. He was claimed off waivers from the San Francisco Giants.

To make room for these additions, the team needed to clear three spots on its roster, which had been at 38. Left-handed pitcher Elniery Garcia cleared waivers and was sent outright to the minor leagues while right-handers Alberto Tirado and Mark Appel were designated for assignment. The Phillies will try to trade Tirado and Appel before placing them on waivers. If they clear waivers, they could stay in the system.

The Phillies cut Appel loose after he'd struggled with injury and ineffectiveness during two seasons in the organization. The 26-year-old right-hander from Stanford University had twice been a first-round draft pick, by Pittsburgh in 2012 and by Houston — No. 1 overall — in 2013. The Phillies acquired him from the Astros as part of the package for Ken Giles in December 2015, but he never lived up to his huge potential.

"A lot of the tools that Mark showed as an amateur that led to him being the No. 1 overall pick are still there," Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said. "He has simply struggled with performance. It's certainly not for lack of effort on his part. We think the world of the kid and wish him well. It was a tough decision."

Tirado, 22, was acquired from Toronto in July 2015 as part of the return for Ben Revere. He arrived with a fastball that could reach triple digits on the radar gun and that promise earned him a spot on the 40-man a year ago. Tirado suffered a shoulder injury early last season and struggled in the minors.

All four of the pitchers that the Phillies protected are products of the team's international scouting department. Taveras, 24, was a standout at three levels in the minors last season and could be in the picture in Philadelphia in 2018. He led the system in strikeouts in 2016 and 2017.

"He knows how to get guys out and often times that comes via the strikeout," Klentak said. "No matter where he pitches, he rises to the occasion and puts up a strong performance."

Kilome, 22, and Dominguez, 22, are both power arms who project to see significant time at Double A in 2018. Suarez, 22, should also get to Double A at some point in 2018. He had a 2.27 ERA in 22 starts at two levels of Single A ball in 2017.

"He may have been the breakout pitcher of the year for the Phillies," Klentak said. "We'd always heard a lot about him and this year he took his performance to another level.

"We're really excited for all four of these guys. All have worked extremely hard and they are all deserving of being added to our roster. Our international scouting operation, Sal Agostinelli and his group, continues to crank out players. They've done a great job. These four pitchers have earned this through their work ethic and performance. By no means is this the ultimate goal for them, but it's one step closer. We believe really strongly in the futures of these four pitchers."

Vielma, 23, is a top defensive shortstop who can also play second and third base. He was waived by Minnesota in September and claimed by the Giants, who let him go in a roster crunch.

"He's an intriguing claim," Klentak said. "He adds depth to our infield."

The Phillies’ roster is at 40. The team will have to clear space if it wants to add a player in next month's Rule 5 draft. Last November, the Phils added 11 players to the 40-man roster and still lost lefty reliever Hoby Milner to Cleveland. Milner failed to make the Indians' opening-day roster, returned to the organization in March and ended up making 37 appearances for the big club after coming up in late June. He was one of 12 rookies to make their big-league debut with the Phillies in 2017.

Notable players who were not protected include outfielders Carlos Tocci and Andrew Pullin and pitcher Brandon Leibrandt.

"One of the byproducts of a strong system is every year there are some tough omissions," Klentak said. "There are always tough calls. But we look at that as a good problem to have."