Phillies Notes: Hernandez can't keep ball down in loss

Posted: February 28, 2014

CLEARWATER, Fla. - Roberto Hernandez is a ground-ball pitcher. That is why the Phillies paid him $4.5 million in December to serve as their fifth starter.

His first act in a Phillies uniform was gruesome. His pitches were up in the zone. The wind blew out. The balls were launched from Toronto's bats.

"That's what will happen," Hernandez said.

Hernandez allowed a monster Jose Bautista home run in the first inning of the Phillies' 4-3 loss in a rain-shortened Grapefruit League opener. The ball landed in a parking lot beyond the two bullpens at Bright House Field.

Adam Lind flied out to the warning track to end the first inning. Brett Lawrie and Colby Rasmus smacked back-to-back doubles in the second inning.

"A couple of those balls, in my opinion, were wind-aided to center field," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. "They didn't sound so good off the bat."

Still, Hernandez's calling card is rolling grounders. Just two of his six outs were on the ground. The 33-year-old righthander allowed a career-high 24 home runs last season with Tampa Bay.

Union matters

The Phillies are not worried about perception in the industry of their role in the NCAA's suspension of a former draft pick, but the Major League Baseball Players Association is interested enough to investigate the matter.

"We are paying attention," said Tony Clark, the executive director of the union.

The Phillies acknowledged their role in reporting Ben Wetzler, an Oregon State senior lefthander, to the NCAA for impermissible contact with an agent during negotiations last spring. Wetzler, a fifth-round pick, was suspended for 11 games by the NCAA. This was the first instance of a team's reporting a player to the NCAA since 1992, according to Baseball America.

"Yes, we are concerned," Clark said. "Based on what it is we find out will determine what - if anything - lends itself to further discussion."

Rolen returns

Former third baseman Scott Rolen was a guest of the Phillies and watched batting practice on the field with his two children. It was his first time in a ballpark since he struck out as a Cincinnati Red to end the 2012 National League division series and his career. The Reds and Dodgers offered him a job last spring, but he opted to be with his family.

"I miss the accountability," Rolen, 38, said. "I miss having a job. I miss having a drive, a direction, and being tired. I miss being miserable."

Extra bases

Righthander Jeff Manship impressed Sandberg with two scoreless innings and three strikeouts. He will provide starting depth at triple-A Lehigh Valley. . . . Former Phillies catcher Chris Coste, now the associate head coach at Concordia (Minn.) College, threw out the first pitch. His team attended the game.

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