Phillies fall to Pirates, 4-1, at Bright House Field
CLEARWATER -- Cody Asche threw down his batting glove, leaned over and grabbed his right wrist. A pitch from Pirates pitcher Yao-Hsun Yang veered inside and brought Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg out of the dugout to check on his projected Opening Day third baseman.
Asche was diagnosed with a bruised hand and an ultrasound did not show a break. He did not return to the game, a 4-1 loss to the Pirates at Bright House Field. He’ll be evaluated further Monday.
Meanwhile, the Phillies’ pains on offense continued. The team managed only one run on seven hits, six of which were singles. In a shutout loss to the Yankees on Saturday in Tampa, the Phillies collected five hits, all singles.
A.J. Burnett, whom the Phillies signed to one-year, $15 million contract in February, made his spring debut, allowing one run on one hit. He struck out one, the first hitter he faced.
After allowing a Gregory Polanco double to left field and recording a groundout, Burnett hit third baseman Pedro Alvarez, setting up a controversial call at second base. With runners on first and third and two outs, Chris Dickerson grounded to shortstop Freddy Galvis, who awkwardly stepped to second. The umpire ruled that Alvarez beat the force attempt. Polanco scored on the play.
Burnett pitched a 1-2-3 second inning, all ground outs. Five of his six outs were groundouts.
The Phillies lone run came in the fifth inning. With one out, Galvis singled off Yang. Yang then hit Asche and left fielder Zach Collier to load the bases. After center fielder Tony Gwynn Jr. struck out, Carlos Ruiz walked to put the Phillies on the board.
Burnett’s outing went as expected. The Phillies are depending upon him to solidify a thin rotation. Cole Hamels is unsure how much time he’ll miss in April as he recovers from experiencing a sore biceps this offseason. Jonathan Pettibone, who is competing for the fifth spot in the rotation, has missed time during camp because of a sore shoulder, and Cuban rookie Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez was erratic in his first professional appearance, allowing a run and four walks in 1 2/3 innings Saturday against the Yankees.
In 2012 and 2013 with the Pirates, Burnett went 26-21 with a 3.41 ERA over 393 1/3 innings. His 209 strikeouts was the fifth most in the National League last season. He pitched with a solid defense behind him, as the Pirates rank ninth in baseball in Defensive Runs Saved (43) since 2012, according to fangraphs.com. The Phillies rank next to last at -110.
Burnett considered retirement before eventually agreeing with the Phillies on a deal that includes a mutual option for 2015 and a limited no-trade clause.