Scott Kingery is a spring star again

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Scott Kingery is a spring star again


DUNEDIN, Fla. — Scott Kingery is off to another great start in spring training and it’s still not going to land him in the big leagues.

At least not immediately.

Oh, he’s coming. He’s not far away. But the Phillies, for now, are set at second base with Cesar Hernandez and that makes it easy to have Kingery open the season at Triple A, where he spent half of last season. Delaying the start of Kingery’s major-league clock by even a month or so means he won’t be eligible for free agency until after the 2024 season. If Kingery were to open this season in the majors, he could be eligible for free agency after the 2023 season. That extra year of control will be nice for the Phillies if Kingery ends up being the player they think he will be.

Kingery, who hit his second homer of the spring in Wednesday’s 7-1 loss to the Blue Jays, is unfazed by it all.

“I understand you have the business side of it, how it works where I get an extra year of control,” he said. “I had some struggles [at Triple A] a little bit toward the end of last year, so why not go there and fine-tune them for a little while and see if I can get better so I can be even better and bring that with me for when I finally do get called up?”

Kingery, who turns 24 on April 29, didn’t struggle too much last year. His combined totals at Double A and Triple A: .304, 29 doubles, 26 homers, 65 RBIs, 29 steals, .889 OPS. He thinks he can improve his work on the bases and steal 45 this season.

Kingery was an early-camp star last spring. He went 6 for 21 in 10 games with a double, two homers and five runs scored en route to logging a 1.019 OPS. So far this spring, he is 4 for 9 with two homers.

“He’s a smart kid,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “He understands a lot of what’s going on around him and nothing discourages him. He’s got laser-sharp focus on the step in front of him and that is the next at-bat or play in the field. He just wants an opportunity to shine and he’s shining. He has that unique special makeup you don’t find very often.”

Kingery added some versatility to his game by playing some third base and shortstop at Triple A last season. He is likely to get a look in center field at some point this spring. He absolutely projects as the Phillies’ second baseman of the future, but the future at that position might not begin until the team cashes in on Hernandez’s trade value. Kingery could get to the big leagues before that, possibly as a stopgap at third base if Maikel Franco doesn’t produce consistently this season.

Phillies' opening day roster decisions not getting any easier

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Phillies' opening day roster decisions not getting any easier


CLEARWATER, Fla. — The Phillies are going down to the wire with their opening day roster decisions.

Manager Gabe Kapler & Co. got another look at pitcher Drew Hutchison and bench candidates Jesmuel Valentin and Roman Quinn on Saturday in a game against the Tigers in Lakeland. None of the three hurt their chances of making the club in a 4-1 win over the Tigers.

Hutchison, a Lakeland native, pitched four scoreless innings. He gave up one hit and survived three walks. He struck out three, including Miguel Cabrera with runners on second and third with one out in the third inning. 

Hutchison, 27, made 74 starts from 2012 to 2016 with the Blue Jays and Pirates. He spent all of last season with the Pirates’ Triple A club and signed a minor-league deal with the Phillies last month. The Phillies have given the right-hander a good look and he has responded well. He has given up 12 hits and six runs in 19 2/3 innings for a 2.75 ERA. However, he has walked eight while registering 17 strikeouts.

Hutchison’s best chance to make the club could be as a long man in the bullpen. Ben Lively is also in the running for that job. Jake Thompson could also be in the picture. He is converting to the bullpen but has built up his pitch counts.

Valentin, a strong candidate for a utility job, started at first base with a borrowed mitt from Rhys Hoskins. Valentin has a first baseman’s mitt and a catcher's mitt on order. He could be the emergency third catcher. Valentin had a good game. He made a nice defensive play and had two hits and a walk. He has played seven positions this spring.

Quinn had two hits, scored a run and swiped three bases. He could open with the big club or be sent to Triple A for playing time. He has impressed Kapler with his electricity and figures to impact the big club at some point, maybe as soon as opening day.

Scott Kingery had two more hits, raising his average to .392 (20 for 51). He will likely open in Triple A but could be up by the third weekend of the season. Delaying his arrival until then would push his potential free agency back until after 2024.

• Rhys Hoskins stayed back in Clearwater and got a bunch of at-bats in a pair of minor-league games. He swatted a pair of opposite-field homers in a Triple A game.

The Phillies host the Orioles on Saturday. Nick Pivetta will start.

Phillies set date for Jake Arrieta's regular season debut

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Phillies set date for Jake Arrieta's regular season debut

CLEARWATER, Fla. – The Phillies have announced their plan for Jake Arrieta.

He will make his regular season debut on April 8 at Citizens Bank Park against the Miami Marlins.

That is a Sunday afternoon game.

Arrieta has a career ERA of 3.28 in day games as opposed to 3.77 in night games. Opposing batters have hit just .214 against him over his career in day games.

“He loves pitching in day games,” manager Gabe Kapler said in announcing the plan for Arrieta, who signed a three-year, $75 million contract with the Phillies on March 12.

Even though Arrieta showed up to camp in excellent shape and had been throwing on his own, the Phillies had promised to be cautious in getting him ready for the regular season. Arrieta will start Tuesday in Clearwater then pitch again on April 2, probably against minor leaguers in Clearwater, before his debut against Miami.

Arrieta had hoped to pitch during the first week of the season. The way things line up, he will miss just one start. The Phillies could stash him on the disabled list as he builds arm strength until they activate him before the April 8 game.

“Jake’s on board with this,” Kapler said. “He’s such a competitive dude, he wants to get out there immediately. But he has a strong understanding of the long view and what will keep him healthy and strong over the whole season and through the next three or four years. He understood that the best thing for his body is to build up a little more and get a nice slow, easy ramp and come out firing for us on April 8 against the Marlins.”

Arrieta has made four lifetime starts against Miami. He is 3-0 with a 1.38 ERA in those games. Over 26 innings, he’s allowed four runs and 16 hits while walking four and striking out 26.

Aaron Nola will start on opening day. The order of the rotation is unclear after that, though the Phillies could get by with four starters until Arrieta is ready. Nick Pivetta and Vince Velasquez will be in the rotation. Zach Eflin, Ben Lively or Drew Hutchison could round out the rotation during the first seven games. Lively or Hutchison could also work out of the bullpen.

Pivetta will start against the Orioles on Sunday.