Phillies Notes: Jake Diekman, Justin De Fratus sent down

Phillie's Chase Utley strokes a single into right field in the fifth inning. (Michael Bryant/Staff Photographer)
Phillie's Chase Utley strokes a single into right field in the fifth inning. (Michael Bryant/Staff Photographer)
Posted: March 18, 2013

CLEARWATER, Fla. - It was an interesting day for the Phillies' bullpen competition.

Two guys who were once in it are out. Jake Diekman and Justin De Fratus were optioned to minor-league camp Sunday before the Phillies' 5-3 exhibition win over the Baltimore Orioles.

Jeremy Horst, a lefty with an inside track to one of the three vacant spots because of the way he pitched last season, threw two scoreless innings and allowed just one hit, but he did not get a glowing review from pitching coach Rich Dubee.

"I thought he was just fair," Dubee said. "I've seen him better."

Phillippe Aumont, in his second outing since returning from the World Baseball Classic, pitched a scoreless sixth inning, but only after walking the first two hitters he faced and throwing just one of his first 11 pitches for a strike. He recovered with two strikeouts and a ground ball that ended the inning.

"You're going to have to give [Aumont] a leash out there, because he's going to have moments where he's going to lose it for a while," Dubee said. "He righted the ship, where in the past he hasn't been able to."

Diekman and De Fratus both pitched in the big leagues last season and have two of the best arms in the organization, but Dubee said they need more work in the minors.

"Diekman has to learn to pitch backwards," Dubee said. "We want him throwing more change-ups, using his change-up some to righties. We want him using first-pitch breaking balls and in 1-0 counts to lefthanders so people can't get started and cheat on his fastball. He also needs to command all three."

Dubee said De Fratus still needs to build his arm strength, but said both he and Diekman are still very much in the team's future plans.

"They're valuable pieces," the pitching coach said. "Right now, they're not there, but they're in the picture for sure."

Jonathan Papelbon, Mike Adams, Chad Durbin and Antonio Bastardo are locks to make the team. Aumont, Horst, Michael Stutes and Raul Valdes would appear to be the front-runners to fill the final three spots in the pen unless the Phillies decide to keep either Aaron Cook or Rodrigo Lopez as long relievers. Non-roster invitee Zach Miner is also still in camp, but he is a long shot to make the team.

Marathon session

After going 1 for 4 with a single in the game against the Orioles, second baseman Chase Utley went through a 40-minute batting practice session with hitting instructor Steve Henderson looking on. Dubee pitched the entire BP session and said he threw long enough for a complete game. Utley is hitting .200 with three extra-base hits this spring.

Extra bases

Freddy Galvis slammed his second home run of the spring, off Jason Hammel. It was his ninth extra-base hit in 54 at-bats and 18 games. It was also the third straight year he homered on St. Patrick's Day. . . . Michael Young raised his spring average to .294 with two hits.

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