Phillies Notes: A rough rehab start for Delmon Young in Clearwater

Delmon Young will stay behind in Florida to allow his ankle to heal. (Matt Slocum/AP)
Delmon Young will stay behind in Florida to allow his ankle to heal. (Matt Slocum/AP)
Posted: April 23, 2013

Delmon Young took another step in his quest to become the Phillies' starting rightfielder when he donned a Clearwater Threshers uniform Sunday. His official minor-league rehabilitation assignment started, and if the initial results are any indication, improvement is needed.

The first Lakeland Flying Tigers batter hit a fly ball toward Young. It landed for a triple. Young could have limited the hitter to a single had he taken a better route, said two officials who attended the game in Lakeland, Fla. In the seventh inning, Young committed a fielding error that allowed a runner to take an extra base.

He batted cleanup in single-A Clearwater's lineup and went 1 for 4 with a sacrifice fly and a single. Though the Phillies are evaluating Young's bat, they are concerned primarily with his defense.

"Obviously, we want his bat, but if he can't play defense, he can't play in the National League," Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "He's going to have to be adequate out there. Until today, he hadn't screwed up any balls, but today he did. . . . He's got to play adequate defense out there for us in right."

Seven balls were hit Young's way, and he misplayed two. A scout who watched Young on Sunday said the outfielder moved without hesitation. Young spent the majority of 2012 as a designated hitter for Detroit. He last played right field in 2007. The Phillies want him there.

Young is recovering from microfracture surgery on his ankle last November.

"If he can produce some offense, we can [substitute] for him in the outfield late in the game," manager Charlie Manuel said. "It's not like we want to embarrass him. But if he can help us offensively, then that part will stand out. More than likely, we'll give him a chance."

Pettibone starts Monday

Jonathan Pettibone failed to pitch six innings in each of his first two triple-A starts this season. But on Monday, the righthander will throw at Citizens Bank Park in his major-league debut.

The Phillies named Pettibone their starting pitcher for the series opener against Pittsburgh. Pettibone, 22, will be the youngest Phillies pitcher to start a game since Fabio Castro in 2007. The Phillies optioned reliever Joe Savery to Lehigh Valley to make room for Pettibone.

Pettibone, a former third-round pick, was never considered a top prospect. He rose to triple-A Lehigh Valley last season. He posted a 9.64 ERA there in his first two starts of 2013.

He was chosen over Tyler Cloyd, who is scheduled to pitch Monday for the IronPigs. (Cloyd has stumbled to a 7.07 ERA in three 2013 outings.) It could be a one-start audition for Pettibone. Lefthander Adam Morgan is regarded as a possible long-term replacement for John Lannan, who could miss two months with a knee injury.

Morgan was not available to start Monday because he threw 100 pitches Thursday afternoon.

Pettibone had a 3.10 ERA in 26 minor-league starts last season.

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