Inside the Phillies: Some Phillies on the mend in Clearwater

Pitcher Jonathan Pettibone saw his promising rookie season end prematurely with shoulder soreness. Ron Cortes/ Staff Photographer
Pitcher Jonathan Pettibone saw his promising rookie season end prematurely with shoulder soreness. Ron Cortes/ Staff Photographer
Posted: October 14, 2013

CLEARWATER, Fla. - Remnants from the systemwide disappointment and misfortune of the 2013 season could be spotted at the Phillies' Florida Instructional League camp, which closed down Friday after a couple of scrimmages against Toronto's prospects at the Carpenter Complex.

This would have been a great place for shortstop Roman Quinn, the Phillies' second-round pick in 2011, to get some at-bats after he missed the final 10 weeks of the season with a fractured bone in his left wrist. Instead, he was confined to taking ground balls from infield instructor Doug Mansolino because he still has a splint on his wrist.

"We were hoping he would be out of his splint so we could send him to our Dominican academy for a month," said Joe Jordan, the Phillies' director of player development. "He's not going to be ready for that. He'll be 100 percent in spring training. It has just been slow."

This would have also been a terrific place for Tommy Joseph to get back to catching after suffering a concussion in early May that limited his 2013 season to 35 games and created questions about his future behind the plate. Instead, he was limited to catching drills. His only game action was four at-bats Wednesday as a designated hitter.

The following day, Joseph visited Micky Collins, a concussion specialist at the University of Pittsburgh who was scheduled to test the catcher's vision Friday.

"He has been medically cleared 100 percent for baseball activities by [two other] doctors he has seen," Jordan said. "There was a little bit of conflicting information from the two doctors even though they both cleared him 100 percent. We said, 'Listen, let's send him up [to Pittsburgh] . . . to get a third opinion from the best guy in the business - Collins - and hopefully it puts him at ease, us at ease, and everything is a go.' "

Jordan said the Phillies may send Joseph to winter ball if he gets a third clean bill of health from Collins.

"We've got to place him, so we're a little bit behind the eight-ball on that because most of the winter league clubs have their players . . . but we're going to try to do that," Jordan said. "If it happens, great. If it doesn't, it's not the end of the world. He'll be in here in big-league camp and ready to go."

Only one player in the Phillies' FIL camp qualified as a big-league success story in 2013, but even his season came to an early conclusion. When lefty John Lannan landed on the disabled list after just three starts, the Phillies turned to rookie Jonathan Pettibone to replace him.

At the time, lefthander Adam Morgan, another prospect whose season was tarnished by injury, was considered the more likely pitcher to get the call, but circumstances lined up right for Pettibone even though he had an elevated earned run average at triple-A Lehigh Valley.

"The goal from day one was to keep the team in the game as much as possible and I felt like if I did that there was a chance they'd want me around more," Pettibone said. "Nothing was really promised for me aside from that first start. Nothing was guaranteed."

Pettibone, 23, pitched 51/3 strong innings in his big-league debut and the Phillies beat the Pittsburgh Pirates. It was the first of seven straight starts in which he allowed three or fewer runs. The Phillies went 6-1 in those starts and Pettibone posted a 3.21 ERA.

Some turbulent times followed, but Pettibone went five or more innings and allowed three earned runs or fewer in 15 of his 18 starts and flashed a fastball in the mid-90s. It was a solid rookie season, but it ended prematurely when he started feeling shoulder soreness during a July 28 outing at Detroit.

He was shut down for a week, made two August rehab starts in the minors, and was shut down again for good.

"The diagnosis from the MRI was rotator-cuff tendinitis and biceps tendinitis," Pettibone said. "No tear. There were changes in the labrum, but they said that was something common in pitchers. They think the pain was coming from the tendinitis."

It's gone now, and Pettibone could be seen during the FIL camp playing catch almost every day with Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, the 27-year-old Cuban righthander the Phillies hope becomes their third starter in 2014.

"He has a good arm," Pettibone said. "He throws hard and it's firm. Me and him are on the same throwing program. I haven't seen him off the mound, but so far what I've seen is a live arm and strong."

Pettibone and Gonzalez both were scheduled to stay in Clearwater beyond the FIL camp and work toward throwing off the mound.

"I think this is my third week of throwing," Pettibone said Thursday. "I've got one more week of long-toss and then a week of bullpens."

His plans beyond that include getting ready to regain the spot in the Phillies rotation that he relinquished only because of his injury.

"My goal going into the year was to get called up, and it happened sooner than I anticipated," Pettibone said. "After that, the goal was to stay as long as possible. I felt like I gave them a chance. I stuck in the rotation until August, when I got hurt. That's what is disappointing. You obviously want to stay healthy throughout the whole year and pitch through the season and I wasn't able to do that."

Even the bright spots had stains on them.


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