TAMPA, Fla. - Antonio Bastardo sat in the visiting clubhouse at George M. Steinbrenner Field and kept pounding his left arm, which was wrapped in ice, with his right fist.
"I was feeling more power," Bastardo said.
He pounded his arm again.
"I was feeling on top of the ball," he said, "and I felt the whip of the ball."
That is a relief for the Phillies, who may have one less bullpen question. Bastardo started Friday's 13-9 Phillies loss to the Yankees and faced four batters. He retired all four on eight pitches.
His fastball velocity was between 89 and 91 m.p.h., which is still a click or two off from his average in 2011. But Bastardo said he felt better than he had in weeks, and that is what the Phillies prioritize. Bastardo had been bothered by left forearm soreness that the team blamed on dehydration.
But the lefthander cited a mechanical flaw that he corrected Friday as another culprit.
"My arm angle was much better," Bastardo said. "I was feeling like I could control the ball, not pushing it like I was the other day."
The Phillies had Bastardo start what was a bullpen game. He pitched to one batter in the second inning, as a test to see how he handled sitting in the dugout between innings. He passed and will throw again Saturday, another sign of optimism.
Thome at first
Charlie Manuel said he plans to play Jim Thome at first base Sunday in the team's final Grapefruit League game. Thome, 41, has surprisingly taken well to the position, and Manuel is optimistic about the idea of his bat being a regular option.
"If we can get two games a week out of him, that'd be fine," Manuel said. "Sometimes if we can get three, that'd be even better."
The Phillies traded Matt Rizzotti, once considered a fringe prospect, to the Minnesota Twins for cash considerations Friday.
Rizzotti, 26, had become a cause celebre for a portion of the fan base. But ultimately, he did not have a position in the field, and scouts did not believe he could hit for power above double A.
In 2010, he started the season in single-A Clearwater and ended in triple-A Lehigh Valley with an overall .343 batting average and 17 home runs. That earned him prospect status despite his older age.
The Phillies were intrigued enough to add him to the 40-man roster that winter for a look-see in 2011 big-league camp. But it was short-lived; he played six games last spring and was 2 for 5 with a home run. He was then outrighted from the 40-man roster and spent all of 2011 in double-A Reading.
Second baseman Freddy Galvis returned to the lineup after a two-game absence with a bruised left foot. . . . Roy Halladay starts Saturday against Toronto in his final tune-up for opening day. It will be a shortened outing. . . . Jose Contreras (elbow surgery) is scheduled to pitch in another minor-league game Saturday. He's expected to begin the season on the disabled list, albeit for only five days or so. . . . Mike Stutes will play catch Saturday to see if the stiffness in his shoulder that scratched him from Friday's appearance is gone.
Phillies encouraged by Bastardo's outing. C5.
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