Phillies Notes: Stutes is making a case for making the staff

Michael Stutes , delivering earlier in spring training, has impressed Charlie Manuel with his ability and may have a shot at making the team.
Michael Stutes , delivering earlier in spring training, has impressed Charlie Manuel with his ability and may have a shot at making the team.
Posted: March 14, 2011

FORT MYERS, Fla. - Charlie Manuel described Michael Stutes as still being a long shot to make the team after the righthanded reliever survived the Phillies' first cuts Friday.

Maybe those odds became a little less long Sunday when Stutes delivered three scoreless innings in his first start since his 2009 season at double-A Reading.

Facing a lineup that included Justin Morneau and Jim Thome, Stutes did not allow a hit and faced only nine batters as the Phillies registered a 6-3 Grapefruit League win over a split-squad Minnesota Twins team at Hammond Stadium.

"That went better than I expected," Stutes said. "I haven't gone three innings in over a year."

Stutes, an 11th-round draft pick in 2008, was moved to a relief role in the minors last season, but he got a chance to start in this game because Manuel opted to leave the vast majority of his regulars back in Clearwater, including pitcher Roy Oswalt.

"I thought it was pretty cool to face Justin Morneau and Thome and guys I grew up watching," Stutes said. "That was the most exciting part for me."

Stutes got Morneau to pop out to third baseman Josh Barfield and induced a grounder to first baseman John Mayberry Jr. from Thome. The 24-year-old righthander's only misstep was a leadoff walk to Chase Lambin in the third. It was his first walk of the spring, but Lambin was quickly erased from the base paths on a strikeout double play.

In nine innings this spring, Stutes has allowed three hits and struck out nine.

"I'm just trying to do my best every day," Stutes said. "I haven't really had a chance to look back. Getting to the field at 7 o'clock every morning, I don't really have a lot of time to sit back and reflect. I've had some good days and I've had some bad days, and the good days have fallen on some of the days that I've pitched."

Stutes said he hasn't given much thought to the idea of making the team, but he's clearly still in the running with 17 days left before opening day.

The reserves

Ben Francisco and Wilson Valdez were the only two Phillies with a chance of starting opening day who made the trip to Fort Myers, but the Phillies still managed to come away with a victory, thanks to a six-run fifth inning that included a three-run home run by Delwyn Young off Minnesota's Joe Nathan

.

Valdez, Barfield and Rule 5 draft pick Michael Martinez all contributed two hits. Valdez raised his spring average to .519.

With the uncertainty about whether Chase Utley will be ready for the start of the season, Manuel said he wants to look at as many reserve candidates as he can before the team makes its final cuts.

"That's one reason we want to play all those guys like that," Manuel said. "We've been wanting to see exactly what our options are."

Oswalt in Clearwater

Oswalt allowed two runs on four hits and struck out six in 52/3 innings of a minor-league intrasquad game Sunday at the Carpenter Complex. He threw 69 pitches. He admitted he was pleased with the work, especially since he did not have to take a long bus ride to get it in.

"Yeah, this was nice," Oswalt said. "Great weather. I felt pretty good. The last two innings, I tried to pitch in a little bit more. The first inning, I was throwing away, trying to work on stuff. The last three innings, I went in and out a little more. It's hard to pitch against guys who are on the same team. You don't want to hurt somebody's hand, make them miss the whole year, so I mixed some in, made sure I didn't hit anybody, felt good."

Extra bases

Matt Anderson, a former first overall draft pick by the Detroit Tigers who signed with the Phils as a minor-league free agent, made his third Grapefruit League appearance and it was a disaster, mostly because he had no command of his fastball. He allowed three runs on two hits and hit a batter while registering just one out. . . . The Phillies travel to Kissimmee on Monday for a game against the Houston Astros. Cole Hamels will be the starting pitcher.


Contact staff writer Bob Brookover at 215-854-2577 or bbrookover@phillynews.com.

 

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