Phillies Notes: Lefty reliever Joe Savery has the right stuff

Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera is helped by teammates Brandon Inge and Don Kelly after Cabrera was hit in the face by a high hopper from Hunter Pence. (David M Warren/Staff Photographer)
Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera is helped by teammates Brandon Inge and Don Kelly after Cabrera was hit in the face by a high hopper from Hunter Pence. (David M Warren/Staff Photographer) (Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera)
Posted: March 20, 2012

CLEARWATER, Fla. - Carlos Ruiz called for a change-up Monday, and Joe Savery had to pause for a moment. It had been about 18 months since he threw one. That was before he became a hitter at single A, a pitcher in double A, and a major-league reliever by the end of 2011.

Savery nodded and tossed the change-up. Detroit's Audy Ciriaco swung and missed at it for strike two. Now things were definitely right.

"I'm feeling good out there," Savery said.

He's just one of the lefthanded relief candidates in Phillies camp who can boast that. Almost all of them were on display in a 4-3 victory over the Tigers at Bright House Field.

After Scott Elarton departed in the third inning, Raul Valdes, Savery, Jake Diekman and David Purcey each saw time on the mound. None of them allowed a run or a walk Monday.

The Phillies briefly auditioned Dontrelle Willis for the role of second lefthanded reliever this spring. He was released last week and with that move, pitching coach Rich Dubee declared he doesn't necessarily need a second lefty at his disposal.

A lot will depend on Jose Contreras' health, but even if the Phillies do not carry a second lefty to start the season, impressions can be made now for jobs later.

The 25-year-old Diekman has pitched to rave reviews from Dubee all spring and tossed another scoreless inning. He has struck out eight and walked one in four Grapefruit League innings.

"Diekman threw the ball exceptionally well," Dubee said.

Valdes, who has allowed lefties to hit .322 off him in the majors, lowered his spring ERA to 1.35 with 12/3 scoreless innings. Dubee also had praise for the 34-year-old Cuban.

Savery pitched two innings and allowed just one hit (a check-swing double) while recording three groundouts and three strikeouts. Savery has not allowed a run in 51/3 innings while striking out seven against two walks.

"My slider is right," Savery said.

Bastardo's arm

Charlie Manuel mentioned Sunday that Antonio Bastardo's velocity had been a concern of late. Dubee clarified that Monday.

"He's had a little forearm tightness," Dubee said. "It has nothing to do with ligaments. A lot of it might be due to being dehydrated. He's fine and then after a certain period he starts to cramp up a little bit. We have to make sure he stays hydrated and keeps water in his system."

Howard status quo

Ruben Amaro Jr. offered a detailed update on Chase Utley's health, but there was little to report about Ryan Howard, who is still constrained by a walking boot.

"We're just trying to heal the wound. Once the wound is healed, we'll get him to do more activities. He's been doing more stuff. He's doing some cardiovascular stuff and taking ground balls and throwing.

Extra bases

Roy Halladay will start Tuesday, his first appearance since a national report quoted anonymous scouts questioning his arm strength this spring. "I kind of thought they better worry about their own team having to face Roy eventually," Dubee said. "Roy is fine." . . . The Phillies released righthander Joel Pineiro, who was possible rotation depth. Dubee said he had shoulder problems. . . . Domonic Brown is still recovering from a neck injury, which may have been caused by a virus. He is medicated and took some swings Monday. . . . Laynce Nix returned after missing six games with sore ribs. He was 1 for 3. . . . Joe Blanton will pitch in a minor-league game Tuesday to stay on schedule. Cliff Lee and Kyle Kendrick will each do the same Wednesday.


Contact Matt Gelb at mgelb@phillynews.com or follow on Twitter @magelb

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