Phillies

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

BOX SCORE

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.

As Phillies wait for answer on Manny Machado, keep an eye on J.A. Happ

As Phillies wait for answer on Manny Machado, keep an eye on J.A. Happ

As the Phillies wait for the Baltimore Orioles to make a decision on where they will send Manny Machado, here is another name that is on the team's list of July trade considerations:

J.A. Happ of the Toronto Blue Jays.

The left-hander ranks behind Machado and his Baltimore teammate, Zach Britton, on the Phillies' wish list, but there is definite interest, according to a league source.

In fact, the Blue Jays have spent much time scouting the Phillies' minor-league system recently, according to a league source.

Happ, 35, is in the final season of a three-year, $36 million contract with the Toronto Blue Jays. In 19 starts, he is 10-6 with a 4.29 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP.

Happ, of course, was originally Phillies property, selected by the club in the third round of the 2004 draft out of Northwestern University. He debuted with the Phillies in 2007 and earned a World Series ring with the club in 2008. He finished second in the NL Rookie of the Year voting in 2009 and was traded to Houston as part of the package for Roy Oswalt the next summer.

The Phillies have not had a left-hander make a start for them since late in the 2016 season. Having a lefty in the rotation is not imperative, but there would be value to it in a pennant race — and beyond — if the Phils could land the right one. Landing a lefty starter could open the possibility of using Vince Velasquez as a one-inning bullpen weapon in the postseason.

The Phillies have long been connected to Cole Hamels, another lefty starter who, of course, has significant Phillies roots. However, there has been no evidence to date that the Phils are pursuing Hamels, who has a $20 million contract option for next season that can be bought out for $6 million.

Neither Happ nor Hamels have pitched especially well lately. Happ, however, was named to the American League All-Star team on Sunday, a nod to his consistency earlier in the season.

Machado update

As for Machado, the Phillies, according to well-placed sources, are one of two or three teams — the others being the Dodgers and Brewers — awaiting a verdict in the Machado sweepstakes. Some industry sources question whether the Brewers have the prospects to get a deal done. The Dodgers and Phillies do have the prospects. The Phillies would be willing to part with a more significant package if Britton, a lefty closer, is included in the deal. It would not be surprising if there is a resolution to all this later this week.

Machado, a slugging left-side infielder, is eligible to become a free agent at season's end. The Phillies are willing to trade for him now and take their chances that they can sign him later this summer or in the offseason, provided they trade from depth areas of their farm system and don't mortgage their future.

Over the weekend, club president Andy MacPhail said the team's play — first place in the NL East at the All-Star break — had put management in a position where it needed "to try to augment our current group to try to preserve our place in the standings for as long as we can."

More on the Phillies

Krukcast: All-Star Game memories

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Krukcast: All-Star Game memories

On this edition of Krukcast, John Kruk and Gregg Murphy discuss Kruk's All-Star Game memories. Kruk participated in three Midsummer Classics. What goes into them? Why it isn't a break for the players. And the moment everyone remembers when Kruk faced Randy Johnson.

1:30 - The All-Star experience.
4:00 - It isn't a "break" for the players.
8:00 - Uniform issues.
14:30 - Facing Randy Johnson.

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