KISSIMMEE, Fla. - The subject of who will close for the Phillies arose again this week, and Pete Mackanin stressed patience. He listed three names - Andrew Bailey, David Hernandez, and Cuban righthander Dalier Hinojosa, who has all of 23 innings in the majors.
"He's in the mix," Mackanin said. "They're all in the mix. It's a big mix."
With a week until the Phillies break camp, the projected bullpen is no clearer. Just about every option is in play. Mackanin expects decisions to be made at the last possible moment.
But one must be made this week. Veteran righthander Edward Mujica can exercise an opt-out clause Saturday if he is not added to the 40-man roster.
Mujica, 31, no longer possesses the kind of stuff that made him an all-star reliever in 2013. The Phillies like that he throws strikes, which is something he's done this spring. He has allowed one run on two hits and two walks with four strikeouts in six innings.
The problem is that Mujica's strikes could be hit a long way. He permitted 10 homers in just 47 innings last season.
Knowing they will need quite a few relievers to survive a 162-game season, the Phillies may decide to break camp with the arms they must keep in the majors or else lose. That bodes well for Mujica and Rule 5 pick Daniel Stumpf, who struck out both Astros batters he faced Wednesday night.
Morton takes loss
Last season, Charlie Morton made 23 starts with Pittsburgh. He threw 100 or more pitches in just five of those games. "You have to be able to throw deeper into games," Morton said.
The sinkerballer rolled 11 groundouts in a 2-1 loss to Houston. But he needed 94 pitches to complete 51/3 innings, a number that did not please Morton. The goal, he said, was to reach the sixth inning.
He did that, but not by much. "I still need to be more efficient than that," Morton said.
He was not helped by a missed catch by Darin Ruf at first base, which led to two unearned runs. Morton, who will start the third game of the season, was slowed earlier this spring by an illness that reached all corners of the Phillies clubhouse.
This time, he felt stronger.
"I feel like I'm in a good spot," Morton said.
Odubel Herrera was a late addition to the travel roster for Wednesday night's game because the coaching staff wanted to see him take batting practice. Herrera has not played in 10 straight days because of a bruised left finger.
He did not swing at full strength Wednesday. The team still believes Herrera will be ready for the start of the season, but his recovery has taken far longer than officials expected.
Carlos Ruiz returned to camp after spending a week in Panama playing for his country, which did not qualify for next season's World Baseball Classic. He started at catcher Wednesday night. . . . The Phillies reassigned catcher Gabriel Lino to minor-league camp, leaving the team with 47 players still in camp. . . . Cody Asche played four innings in a minor-league intrasquad game and had two at-bats. He could start on the disabled list with a strained rib cage.