Phillies hire Rob Thomson as bench coach

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Phillies hire Rob Thomson as bench coach

Updated: 10:27 p.m.

The Phillies' methodical construction of a coaching staff for the 2018 season continued on Tuesday when new manager Gabe Kapler announced the hiring of Rob Thomson as bench coach.

The hiring leaves just one remaining opening on the first-year manager's staff: first base coach.

The team previously hired Rick Kranitz as pitching coach, Chris Young as assistant pitching coach, Jim Gott as bullpen coach, Dusty Wathan as third base coach, John Mallee as hitting coach and Pedro Guerrero as assistant hitting coach.

With Kranitz, Mallee and Thomson, Kapler has plenty of experience on his first big-league staff. Kranitz, who has been with the Phillies for two seasons — first as bullpen coach and then as assistant pitching coach — has 10 years experience as a lead big-league pitching coach with the Marlins, Brewers and Orioles. Mallee was previously a big-league hitting coach with the Cubs and Astros.

Thomson, 54, comes to the Phillies after spending 28 seasons in the Yankees organization in a variety of major-league and player-development roles. He was most recently bench coach under former Yankees skipper Joe Girardi. Previously, he had served on manager Joe Torre's staff. 

Thomson, a former infielder/catcher in the Tigers' minor-league system, had been a candidate for the Yankees' recent manager opening. Ultimately, Aaron Boone was hired to replace Girardi.

Adding to the prospect pool
The Phillies on Tuesday signed catching prospect Abrahan Gutierrez.

The 18-year-old was one of the Braves' 13 minor-league prospects lost for a host of international signing violations made by the team.

Gutierrez, a native of Caracas, Venezuela, slashed .264/.319/.357 with nine doubles, a home run and 12 RBIs in 35 games for the Braves' Gulf Coast League team last season. Behind the plate, the 6-foot-2, 214-pounder caught 18 base stealers in 48 attempts.

Ben Lively states his case for spot on Phillies' pitching staff

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Ben Lively states his case for spot on Phillies' pitching staff


CLEARWATER, Fla. — The Phillies will be without Mark Leiter Jr.'s versatile arm for about six weeks. An MRI performed Monday on the pitcher's sore right forearm showed a strained flexor muscle.

Leiter had a good chance to make the opening day roster as a long reliever or fifth starter. With him out, the Phillies could be in need of a swingman.

Could Ben Lively be that guy?

"I can pitch anywhere," the competitive 26-year-old right-hander said. "I don't care. Wherever they want, I'll pitch."

Lively did nothing to hurt his chances of making the club as he turned in five shutout innings against the Toronto Blue Jays in a rain-shortened 2-0 win Tuesday afternoon. He allowed just three hits, walked none and struck out four. He was particularly impressive in the fourth inning, striking out Justin Smoak and retiring Russell Martin on a tapper back to the mound with runners on second and third.

"I just tried to bear down and stick to the game plan," Lively said. "There's too much technology around here now. We have all the heat maps and we talked about it before the game and I just stayed with it."

Lively made 15 starts with the big club last year and 10 of them were quality starts in which he went at least six innings and gave up three or fewer earned runs. Lively doesn't have power stuff. He gave up 9.1 hits per nine innings last season and struck out just 5.3 per nine. Management would love to see some improvement in those areas — i.e., more of what he displayed on Tuesday.

"Lively was strong today," manager Gabe Kapler said. "He came out and attacked the zone.

"One of the things that is important is that we see some swing and misses with Lives and we saw a couple of bat-missing moments today that were, to me, a big deal. He induces quick contact, which is important, but we also like to see the ability to miss bats and we saw that on a couple of occasions, (Curtis) Granderson being most notable."

Granderson struck out twice against Lively.

"We look at past tendencies from recent years," Lively said of his pregame study. "The main one we looked at today was Granderson. He has a low slugging percentage on the outer half (of the plate), so we pounded him on the outer half the whole time."

With Jerad Eickhoff headed to the disabled list and Nick Pivetta likely to join Aaron Nola, Jake Arrieta and Vince Velasquez in the starting rotation, Lively appears to be vying for the fifth starter's job with Zach Eflin and non-roster invite Drew Hutchison. But he and Hutchison also could be vying for a long man's job in the bullpen.

By mid-April, the Phillies will probably have an eight-man bullpen. But they could break with an extra reliever because they won't need a fifth starter until April 11.

However it shakes out, Lively did not hurt his chances of landing some role with his performance Tuesday.

Roster moves
The Phillies sent catcher Logan Moore, infielder Mitch Walding and outfielder Andrew Pullin to minor-league camp.

What's up with Phillies top pitching prospect Sixto Sanchez?

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What's up with Phillies top pitching prospect Sixto Sanchez?

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Sixto Sanchez, the Phillies' top pitching prospect, has been noticeably absent from game action in minor-league camp.

Joe Jordan, the Phillies' director of player development, says there's nothing to be alarmed about.

"He had the flu and he's over it now," Jordan said. "He's fine now. No issues. He's 100 percent."

Jordan said Sanchez got up to 30 pitches in a bullpen session this week.

"He let it go with all his pitches," Jordan said.

Jordan added that Sanchez would pitch in a game in the next few days. He added that Sanchez would open the season on time with the Clearwater club, though his innings will be watched at the outset until he's fully stretched out.

Sanchez, 19, is a power-armed right-hander with remarkable control. He went 5-7 with 3.03 ERA in 18 starts at Lakewood and Clearwater, both Single A affiliates, last season. He pitched 95 innings, struck out 84, walked 18 and had a WHIP of 0.958.