CLEARWATER, Fla. - David Hernandez entered spring training as the favorite to leave as the Phillies closer. The righthander was the only relief pitcher the team signed this offseason, and his arrival came just three days before the departure of Ken Giles.
But the pitcher's effectiveness this season may hinge on the development of a change-up, which is Hernandez's third pitch. The 30-year-old showcased the offering Tuesday as he worked an easy fourth inning in a 5-3 loss to Toronto.
Hernandez threw just 12 pitches, mixing the change-up with his fastball and curveball. Hernandez retired all three batters he faced. He said the change-up is still developing and joked that he throws just "two and a half pitches."
Hernandez spent the offseason trying to get a feel for his change-up with his brother, Raymond, who spent two seasons in Arizona's minor leagues. The brothers would meet at Cosumnes River College, a junior college in Sacramento, Calif., where both played and Raymond Hernandez is the pitching coach.
"He's always had better stuff than me. I just threw harder than him," David Hernandez said. "I always look to him to get advice from him on pitches. He's really good with mechanics and stuff like that. He was really good at keeping batters off balance when I just relied on my fastball. I got away with more mistakes."
Hernandez plans to focus on his change-up, a pitch he said he needs. Manager Pete Mackanin said a change-up that can be thrown for strikes and keep hitters off balance is "an extremely effective pitch."
"It can make the difference between success and failure," Mackanin said, "If he comes up with a real good one, it can only help him."
Freddy Galvis had to take a break from batting practice to inspect his car. The windshield of his Dodge Charger was cracked thanks to a Maikel Franco batting-practice homer that left Bright House Field.
Franco's blast rocketed over the Tiki Bar in left field, cleared the concourse, and landed in the passenger corner of the car's windshield. Galvis' car was there because he had to park in a different spot after arriving late to the park and finding Cesar Hernandez had grabbed his usual space. Galvis was asked if it was a bad idea to park so close to the stadium.
"Yeah," he said. "Especially with Franco here."
Franco said that was the first windshield he had ever broken. Galvis hoped the car - which is not a rental - could be repaired during the game. Franco said he's not sure how he'll make it up to him.
"Everything is good," Franco said. "It's kind of funny, I didn't mean to do it."
J.P. Arencibia, in camp on a minor-league contract, smashed a solo homer to center and singled. He does not have an out clause in his contract until later in the season, so it is likely he goes to triple-A Lehigh Valley as a backup catcher or first baseman. . . . David Buchanan will start Wednesday's game against Toronto in Dunedin, Fla., with Vincent Velasquez also scheduled to pitch.