Bastardo's spring has unfolded slowly. After a case of elbow inflammation during the winter postponed his throwing progression, he was further delayed by a case of the flu shortly after pitchers and catchers reported. Bastardo was scheduled to pitch on Wednesday, but had to leave camp to attend to a family matter. Midway through the Grapefruit League schedule, he has logged only three innings.
Assuming the 25-year-old can get regular work the rest of the spring, he should be a strong candidate to make the Opening Day roster. He has retired all six batters he has faced, four via strikeout.
But regular work is something Bastardo has struggled to produce over the last few seasons.
Despite dominant minor league numbers - a 2.53 ERA, 10.3 strikeouts per nine innings and 3.8 walks per nine in 84 appearances, 46 starts - he has not received much of an opportunity to pitch regularly in the majors. A lot of that has to do with his health; he was shut down in 2009 with shoulder problems, and last season battled elbow inflammation.
With his explosive fastball and vastly improved slider, the Phillies think Bastardo has the talent to pitch in the eighth or ninth inning someday. First, though, he'll have to prove an ability to repeat outings like yesterday.
Looking for his fastball
Of the 20 pitches Brad Lidge threw in the eighth inning yesterday, 19 were fastballs. There was a good reason for that.
"Right now, my fastball is garbage," the veteran closer said.
The mere fact Lidge is on a mound this early in the spring puts him ahead of where he has been in his first three seasons with the Phillies. For the immediate future, he'll be using that time to find his fastball command, something that has evaded him thus far. Yesterday, he walked one and allowed two runs on three hits in an inning. The good news, he said, is that he can throw his vaunted slider "on a dime."
Raul Ibanez crushed a 2-0 pitch from Jeremy Guthrie over the 400-foot sign in dead center for his first home run of the spring. Ibanez also doubled and singled, finishing the day 3-for-3 with three RBI and two runs, raising his spring average to .321 . . . Ryan Howard hit his fourth homer of the spring, taking Kevin Gregg deep for a two-run shot in the fifth inning. Ross Gload followed Howard's blast with a solo shot . . . Delwyn Young, a candidate to make the team as a pinch-hitter and reserve infielder and outfielder, went 3-for-5 with a double and RBI . . . Roy Oswalt will pitch in a minor league game tomorrow. *