Nick Castellanos: 'We have a chance to be very, very good'


DUNEDIN, Fla. -- The Phillies offered a little preview of what their offense might look like this season on Sunday afternoon. Manager Joe Girardi trotted out a Thunder Row lineup and the result was a 10-5 win over the Toronto Blue Jays.

Phillies bats produced five home runs, two of them by Bryce Harper against lefty Yusei Kikuchi.

Nick Castellanos made his first start for the Phils and batted cleanup behind Harper, whose home runs came in his first two at-bats.

"I had the best seats in the stadium to watch those swings," Castellanos said afterward. "My first two times on deck I get to see that. I hope I get to see that 50 times a year."

Didi Gregorius and Mickey Moniak both homered for the second straight day.

Bryson Stott entered the team's third base derby with a bang. He drew two walks, including one with the bases loaded, and homered.

In all, the Phillies' bats produced 13 hits.

"We've added a lot of offense," Girardi said. "The organization has done a great job."

Newcomer Kyle Schwarber did not play.

Castellanos got a nice ovation from a large contingent of Phillies fans before his first at-bat.

"It feels good just to be welcomed, wanted, appreciated," he said. "As an athlete, that's all you can ask for."

Castellanos struck out, walked and had a base hit.

He says he'll be ready for opening day April 8.

"I felt good all three at-bats," he said. "I'm not worried. I'll be where I need to be."


Castellanos loves the potential in the Phillies' bat rack.

"It's no secret, right, we have a chance to be very, very good," he said. "At the end of the day, it's our responsibility to do it. I've been on a lot of teams that on paper we should win the World Series and we've come up short. I'm not somebody who likes to talk about guarantees but we definitely have pieces in play."


One week ago, Girardi said Moniak was not an option to be in the team's center field mix. Then Obudel Herrera got hurt (oblique) and Moniak started clubbing homers -- three in his last three games -- and now things have changed. 

"He's making it interesting, let me tell you," Girardi said. 

Moniak has made an adjustment and is now standing closer to the plate.

"He's getting closer to the plate and not crossing over," Girardi said. "That frees up his hips."

Matt Vierling still appears to be the choice to play center field and Herrera lines up to be part of a platoon when he's ready to go. But Moniak could make the club as an extra outfielder over Adam Haseley if he keeps swinging it the way he has been.


The Phillies traded utilityman Luke Williams to San Francisco for minor-league infielder Will Toffey. Williams was designated for assignment last week.


Harper and Stott are both from Las Vegas. They're close friends. They live together in spring training.

So what does Harper think of Stott's chances to win the third base job?

"We'll see by the end of spring training what they're thinking," he said. "He's a great talent. I think he's definitely forcing their hand right now. We'll see what they pick, what they do. We all know he's going to be here at some point. If he has to spend a few days in the minors, that's just how baseball is. But if we have the opportunity to have him, I don't think anyone will blink an eye about it."

Stott is expected to play shortstop when the Phillies host Baltimore on Monday. Alec Bohm is expected to get the start at third base as the competition continues.

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