CLEARWATER, Fla. — A little more than 10 months since he last appeared in a game, Mike Stutes stood on the mound at Bright House Field and tried too hard.
His first five pitches Monday were balls. His next one was driven to the warning track in left field. He walked two batters, fell behind just about every hitter he faced, and allowed a two-run triple in the sixth inning of the Phillies' 10-1 loss to Detroit.
"I was trying to be right on the black every time," Stutes said, "instead of just throwing pitches like I should have been."
The 26-year-old reliever forged a valuable spot in the Phillies' bullpen two seasons ago but starts from scratch this spring. He underwent shoulder surgery last June. With a crowded and competitive bullpen picture, Stutes needs a good spring just to make the team.
He must make a better impression than his first.
"It's his first time on the mound in 10 months," pitching coach Rich Dubee said. "I wouldn't jump off the ship yet."
Stutes is past the point of worrying about the injury. Now, results are paramount.
"I felt good," Stutes said. "I was just out there aiming the ball a little bit. I was trying to be too fine."
EXTRA BASES. Ryan Howard had three at-bats against a lefthanded pitcher Monday and delivered two singles and a sacrifice fly. ... Tyler Cloyd relieved Cliff Lee and was just as sharp in two scoreless innings. ... Domonic Brown did not start for the second straight day. He struck out as a pinch-hitter. ... The Phillies (0-2-1) have allowed 23 runs in three Grapefruit League games.
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