As we noted in our pre-game post, the Phillies were not particularly good against left-handed pitchers last year, and they have a great deal of uncertainty with regard to the right-handed bats who will be charged with balancing out the lineup this year. Michael Young is one. Cliff Lee thinks he will be a good one. But the Phillies need more than one, and their top two candidates are both expected to miss much of the first month of the season: Carlos Ruiz due to suspension, Delmon Young due to his continuing recovery from microfracture surgery on his ankle. That leaves John Mayberry, Darin Ruf and Erik Kratz as the right-handed power to supplement Michael Young. I'm writing more about this in a story for the Tuesday paper. So, we'll move along. . .
1) Ryan Howard went 2-for-2 with a couple fo singles and a sacrifice fly. The sac fly and one of the singles came off of lefty pitchers, against whom Howard has struggled even more than usual over the last couple seasons. Charlie Manuel wants him to see a lot of lefties this spring, and thus far he has done exactly that.
2) The competition for the final two or three spots in the bullpen has gotten off to an inauspicious start. In Monday's 10-1 loss to the Tigers at Bright House Field, two of the contenders had rocky outings, as Mike Stutes and Raul Valdes both allowed a pair of runs. It's natural to pay a little more attention to Stutes because he missed most of last year with a shoulder that required surgery. The righty started his outing by throwing five straight balls. He issued two walks, did not strike out a batter, and recorded all three of his outs on loud fly balls. Manuel and pitching coach Rich Dubee both cautioned against reading too much into one outing.
"He's alright," Manuel said. "He's getting his work in. Doobs has told me he's seen him throw good on the side, things like that. It's just a matter of him getting some work in and getting sharp."
Said Dubee: "It was his first time on the mound in 10 months. I wouldn't jump off the ship yet."
Stutes said his shoulder feels good.
"I felt good," he said. "I was just kind of out there aiming the ball a little bit. I got out there and was kind of trying to be too fine, kind of pushed stuff to the corner instead of going out there and reaching back and throwing."
Similarly, Jonathan Papelbon downplayed the six runs he allowed in his inning of work.
"I'm just (concentrating on) repeating my delivery," the closer said.
Valdes, a lefty who pitched well when healthy for the Phillies last season, allowed two runs on four hits, three of them extra base hits, one of them a home run, against a bunch of guys who are not likely to make the Tigers Opening Day roster. He pitched two innings.
The one player who did get results was Phillippe Aumont, who retired all three batters he faced, one via strikeout, one via fly ball and one via groundball. Again, it is way too early to start using spring results to handicap the Opening Day roster. Another competitor, Justin De Fratus, allowed a pair of runs with a pair of walks in his first outing of the spring.
3) Cliff Lee said he felt fine after pitching a pair of scoreless innings. Business as usual for the nonchalant lefty.
4) Those who watched today's game on TV may have noticed Domonic Brown limp a bit after fouling a ball of his foot just before striking out in the bottom of the seventh. He finished the game and Manuel did not express any concern afterward. Brown is in the lineup for Tuesday's game against the Yankees.
5) Michael Young made all three of the plays he was faced with at third. Prospect Cody Asche committed an error late in the game after taking over at the hot corner.
6) Tomorrow it is the Yankees in town with Kyle Kendrick starting. Chad Durbin is also scheduled to pitch.