CLEARWATER, Fla. — The Phillies came out with four runs in the bottom of the first inning and held on for a 4-3 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates in exhibition play Sunday afternoon at Spectrum Field.
Didi Gregorius, Jay Bruce and newcomer Kyle Garlick — picked up in a trade with the Dodgers last week — had the big hits in the first inning.
But when manager Joe Girardi sized up the win, he pointed to the guy in center field.
Roman Quinn led off the bottom of the first with a double and eventually scored, but his biggest contribution of the game came on defense, where he made two standout catches in the fifth inning.
“He was probably the reason we won the game,” Girardi said.
Quinn raced to his left and made a diving catch for the first out in the fifth inning. He ended the frame by going back to the wall and making a tough catch. Both of the catches came with runners on base.
“Quinn’s defense was really good,” Girardi said. “Two different types of catches in the same inning. He has the ability to run down so many balls. I don’t think you can ever outrun a baseball but he can come close. He gets really good jumps.”
Several times early in camp, Girardi has recalled seeing Quinn a few years ago when Girardi was still skippering the Yankees. Like so many others, Girardi was always impressed with Quinn’s speed and electricity. Quinn, of course, has never been able to stay healthy. That’s probably why the general consensus is that Adam Haseley has come into camp tops on the depth chart in center field. But this will end up being a good position battle as camp unfolds if Quinn stays healthy.
“I believe it’s a competition,” Girardi said earlier in camp. “Both good players. Haseley made great strides last year and Roman can be a difference-maker when he’s healthy and on base. He can create a lot of problems. Switch-hitter. He has the ability to take the pitcher’s attention off the hitter at times and score on balls in the gap.”
The third base experiment
Jean Segura made his first start at third base on Sunday and made several plays. He also had a ball bounce off his glove. It was a play he probably should have conceded to shortstop Didi Gregorius.
Segura is moving off of shortstop to make room for Gregorius, who signed as a free agent in the offseason.
Segura has never played third base before. The Phillies are hoping he can handle the position so Scott Kingery can play second. But a final decision on where Segura — and Kingery by extension — plays is probably still several weeks away. Segura can play second and has told the team he’d be comfortable there. His ability to play third base is under evaluation by both him and the team.
“The plays don’t look hard for him,” Girardi said. “It’s the reads he has to get accustomed to. We just have to continue to get him reps there because as he has said all along that he can play second in his sleep. Third is the trickier one for him.
“He has the hands, he has the quickness, he has the range, he has the arm. It’s embracing it and if you make a wrong read, it’s not being embarrassed. It’s saying, ‘OK, I learned from that.’ “
Embracing a position change, Girardi added, “is a lot of the battle.”
Bryce Harper has not played in the first two games. Nothing is wrong. It’s a long camp and Girardi said Harper would start Tuesday in Clearwater.
“That’s just the schedule we planned out a while back,” Girardi said.
Zack Wheeler has been throwing to hitters at the minor-league complex. His first start is slated for Saturday in Dunedin against the Blue Jays.
More on the Phillies' starting pitching plans for the coming days here.