Saturday, February 6, 2016

Mike Stutes can throw his slider again

The start of Mike Stutes' spring, from bullpen sessions to his first Grapefruit League appearance, was shaky. That was to be expected; 10 months of not seeing a hitter can do damage. Now, his slider is crisp again.

Mike Stutes can throw his slider again

Phillies pitcher Michael Stutes throws during spring<br />training in Clearwater, FL. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)
Phillies pitcher Michael Stutes throws during spring training in Clearwater, FL. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. — For Mike Stutes, the spring represents a chance to prove himself again. He emerged as one of the Phillies' most-trusted relievers in 2011. He effectively throws only two pitches, a fastball and slider, and he rode them to success.

Near the end of the 2011 season, his slider did not have the same bite. He had a 4.44 ERA during the final two months. He came to camp the next spring with a shoulder hurting so much that throwing a slider was "basically" impossible.

The first two Rays — Yunel Escobar and Kelly Johnson — he faced in Friday's 3-2 Phillies loss whiffed on sliders.

"Now it's back to feeling strong again and I can really rip down it," Stutes said. "If nothing else, it gives me confidence out there knowing I can physically do it."

More coverage
Download FREE Philly Sports Now app for iPhone!
Final season stats for Phillies
Buy Phillies jerseys and other gear
WATCH: Daily fantasy baseball updates

The start of Stutes' spring, from bullpen sessions to his first Grapefruit League appearance, was shaky. That was to be expected; 10 months of not seeing a hitter can do damage.

After his two strikeouts Friday, he threw a fastball in on Evan Longoria's hands for a grounder that Michael Young adeptly fielded. It was a clean, quick inning.

"The last two outings, I'm more comfortable out there," Stutes said. "Just being in the speed of the game, it took me a couple of times to be comfortable. I'm attacking the hitters instead of reacting to what they're doing. I'm back to where I was before. I'm trying to dictate what happens. That's a good feeling to have out there. It allows me to be more aggressive."

Pitching coach Rich Dubee said he expects to begin evaluating the bullpen competition next week. Phillippe Aumont and Jeremy Horst could have an advantage, leaving one spot to fill. If Stutes can recapture the stuff that made him effective for much of 2011, he will have a chance.

Stutes said his current slider feels like it did when he was summoned to the majors in early 2011. He knows there is little room for error to finish the spring with such stiff competition.

"It's impossible to not think about that stuff," Stutes said. "But I've really tried to not sit there and watch what everyone else is doing."

Have a question? Send it to Matt Gelb's Mailbag.

We encourage respectful comments but reserve the right to delete anything that doesn't contribute to an engaging dialogue.
Help us moderate this thread by flagging comments that violate our guidelines.

Comment policy: comments are intended to be civil, friendly conversations. Please treat other participants with respect and in a way that you would want to be treated. You are responsible for what you say. And please, stay on topic. If you see an objectionable post, please report it to us using the "Report Abuse" option.

Please note that comments are monitored by staff. We reserve the right at all times to remove any information or materials that are unlawful, threatening, abusive, libelous, defamatory, obscene, vulgar, pornographic, profane, indecent or otherwise objectionable. Personal attacks, especially on other participants, are not permitted. We reserve the right to permanently block any user who violates these terms and conditions.

Additionally comments that are long, have multiple paragraph breaks, include code, or include hyperlinks may not be posted.

Read 0 comments
comments powered by Disqus
About this blog

The place for up-to-the-minute Phillies coverage from The Inquirer's beat writers and columnists.

Jake Kaplan Inquirer Staff Writer
Bob Brookover Inquirer Columnist
Marc Narducci Inquirer Staff Writer
Matt Breen Staff Writer
Latest Videos:
Also on
letter icon Newsletter