Tuesday, September 1, 2015

This spring, Phillies at worst in early innings

No, it is not wise to make judgments using spring statistics - especially in a two-week sample size and for players with guaranteed jobs - but there is a concerning pattern in the Phillies' malaise.

This spring, Phillies at worst in early innings

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Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins bats during a spring training game at Bright House Field in Clearwater, Florida. (Charlie Neibergall/AP)
Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins bats during a spring training game at Bright House Field in Clearwater, Florida. (Charlie Neibergall/AP)

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — The first 15 Phillies to bat Tuesday were retired in order by Atlanta. They did not muster a hit until two outs in the seventh inning when Kevin Frandsen blooped a Craig Kimbrel pitch to the opposite field. They lost, 9-1, for the 10th time in 14 Grapefruit League games.

No, it is not wise to make judgments using spring statistics — especially in a two-week sample size and for players with guaranteed jobs — but there is a concerning pattern in the Phillies' malaise.

They were no-hit through three innings for the fifth time in seven games. They have scored a run before the fourth inning just twice in 11 March games. The early innings are the closest replication of a regular-season game; the majority of the lineup is regular players and the opposition's best pitcher is throwing.

"In some regards, it's not that concerning," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. "In other regards, as far as spring training games, it sets a tough tone for the rest of the game. I don't remember the last time that we've scored in the first three or four innings. So it makes it tough for the game that day.

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But, in the bigger picture, Sandberg scoffs at a .186 team batting average.

"Overall, I look at our potential lineup and I see the guys that aren't hitting and not overly concerned," Sandberg said. "But as far as wins and losses, it has a big effect on the record in spring training."

The Phillies are 2-10-2 this spring.


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