PHILS INSIDER

Phillies notes: Closer is Girardi’s call, plans for Kingery, Howard

PHILS INSIDER

Dave Dombrowski is an old-school baseball leader. He has his domain. The manager has his.

While Dombrowski admitted Tuesday that he made the final call to award Adam Haseley the last spot on the 26-man roster over Odubel Herrera, he’s leaving the lineup card and other game-related decisions to manager Joe Girardi.

Dombrowski remade the bullpen this winter and the Phillies have three newcomers with closer experience in Brandon Kintzler, Jose Alvarado and Archie Bradley. Holdover Hector Neris has done the job and Connor Brogdon, who has made his first opening day roster, probably has the tools to handle it sometime down the road.

So who will pop out of that bullpen door if the Phillies have a lead in the ninth inning in Thursday’s season opener?

“That’s up to Joe,” Dombrowski said.

Girardi was asked about the topic a number of times during spring training but would not tip his hand. It’s possible he could spread out some closing chances early, but, ultimately, he’d like to land on one guy and assign roles throughout the bullpen.

Kintzler would be in favor of that.

“The good thing about this 'pen is nobody cares where they pitch, we just want to win,” he said. "But it would be nice if things eventually lined up and everyone knows their job. Once everything starts lining up, that’s when bullpens take off."

Ditto for …

A possible platoon in center field between lefty-hitting Haseley and switch-hitting Roman Quinn.

“That’s Joe’s call,” Dombrowski said.

 

The Phils face Atlanta lefty Max Fried on Thursday. Starting Quinn in center field could make sense.

Innings limit

The Phillies had hoped to turn 24-year-old pitching prospect Spencer Howard loose this season, but last summer's combination of a short season and a sore shoulder has left the team watching his workload again this season.

“We’re going to limit his innings,” Dombrowski said. “We like him a whole lot. We want to put him in a position where he can start for us next year.”

Regardless of where Howard is this season — at the alternate site, in Triple A or in the majors — the Phils plan to use him as a reliever and they’ll make sure he gets plenty of time to warm up because he’s never performed in the role before. If Howard starts, it would likely be in a quick, two- or three-inning assignment.

“It’s going to be a juggling act all year,” Dombrowski said. “He’s going to be a very important member of the Phillies organization as we move forward.”

Level the swing

Scott Kingery will report to the alternate site in Lehigh Valley, where he will continue to try to remake his swing and improve his production.

Kingery’s swing has gotten longer and become more of an uppercut over the last few seasons and the strikeouts have mounted. Dombrowski said he’s looking for Kingery to “level” the swing.

Dombrowski said Kingery has acknowledged the need for change.

“He’s a good player with tremendous tools,” Dombrowski said. “He needs to continue to work on leveling his swing and be in a position to produce, hit the ball on a consistent basis. We’re not interested that he has to hit a bunch of home runs. We’re more concerned with line drives. He’ll hit home runs because he’s strong enough.

“We just need to see consistent improvement. Our hope is that he still becomes an everyday player. We’ll keep a close eye on him.”

Dombrowski said minor-league hitting coordinator Jason Ochart would join Kingery at the alternate site and be the main person working with Kingery while big-league hitting coach Joe Dillon keeps tabs.

According to the Phillies media guide, Ochart is “co-owner/director of hitting for Driveline Baseball, a data-driven baseball performance center.”

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