Phillies shut down by University of Tampa in Clearwater, 6-2

Nefi Ogando is pulled during the Phillies' 6-2 loss to the University of Tampa at Bright House Field. (David Swanson/Staff Photographer)

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Odubel Herrera came to the Phillies as a Rule 5 draft pick from Texas with proven track record as a singles-hitting machine.

A middle infielder, Herrera is learning to play outfield this spring, and he made his debut Sunday, playing center field in the Phillies' 6-2 exhibition loss against Division II college power University of Tampa.

Herrera, 23, has just 13 home runs in 600 career minor-league games. Last week he joked about his power, or lack of it, and told reporters to just watch.

Herrera's first two at-bats Sunday resulted in a fly ball to medium right-center and a first-pitch popup to short. Two easy outs from a player whose best chance at success is to put the ball on the ground.


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In his third at-bat, Herrera lined a single to left field and promptly smacked his hands together as he rounded first.

Consider that one of the highlights on a day devoid of dramatic hitting, a day in which the Phillies were outscored, out-hit and out-slugged.

Russ Canzler, a Triple A veteran, delivered the Phillies' first hit of the spring, a double in the second inning. He scored on Aaron Altherr's bloop single to right, narrowly beating a strong throw home. The crowd, a mix of nearby UT fans and Phillies fans, booed the call. Altherr scored on an errant pickoff attempt for a 2-0 lead. He later added a single to left, accounting for two of the Phillies' six hits.

Paul Clemens, a candidate to make the Phillies as a long reliever, started and hit 96 mph with a fastball in the first of two perfect innings. He struck out one and broke a wood bat against a college team unfamiliar with using them.

The Phillies didn't allow a hit until Elvis Araujo gave up a single with two outs in the fifth inning.

Phillippe Aumont, another bullpen candidate, started the sixth inning. Aumont's arm strength has never been in question -- his fastball sat at 94 mph Sunday -- but his ability to throw strikes likely will determine his future as a Phillie.

Aumont gave up three hits, including an RBI single on a 3-2 fastball and another single on a 3-2 pitch.

It got a little wilder in UT's 5-run seventh inning.

UT, ranked No. 1 in Div. II, tied it at 2 when Phillies reliever Nefi Ogando walked in a run with the bases loaded. That prompted a mid-inning pitching change to Hector Neris, who promptly gave up a grand slam to UT shortstop Giovanny Alfonzo.

The Phillies loaded the bases in the ninth, but Cord Phelps grounded out to the pitcher to end it.

The Phillies open Grapefruit League on Tuesday at home against the New York Yankees in a game that could mark Alex Rodriguez's return to baseball. Rodriguez was suspended and missed all of last season. Jerome Williams is scheduled to start for the Phillies.

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