Phillies Notes: Pitch hits Asche in hand; no broken bones

The Phillies' Cody Asche goes down after being hit in the right hand by a pitch from the Pirates' Yao-Hsun Yang in the fifth inning. DAVID SWANSON / Staff Photographer
The Phillies' Cody Asche goes down after being hit in the right hand by a pitch from the Pirates' Yao-Hsun Yang in the fifth inning. DAVID SWANSON / Staff Photographer
Posted: March 04, 2014

CLEARWATER, Fla. - The thud sounded as if ball hit helmet, but Cody Asche gripped his right hand and crumpled to the ground. Ryne Sandberg later said it sounded like a slap. An errant pitch from Pittsburgh lefthander Yao-Hsun Yang struck Asche, the Phillies' third baseman.

He departed Sunday's 4-1 loss to the Pirates in the fifth inning, but it appeared that the Phillies dodged serious trouble. Asche was diagnosed with a bruised hand after a preliminary ultrasound examination showed no broken bones.

The team could administer more tests Monday once the swelling subsided.

"It should be all right," Asche said. "We'll know more tomorrow."

The 23-year-old Asche will start at third base on opening day, barring injury or a disastrous spring performance. His challenger is Maikel Franco, the organization's top prospect. The Phillies would rather Franco gain more experience in the minor leagues.

Yang, a 31-year-old import from Taiwan, pitched in the Japanese minor leagues last season. He hit two Phillies and walked another in the fifth inning.

Franco replaced Asche at third.

Pop for Papelbon

Jonathan Papelbon recorded three outs on eight pitches in his Grapefruit League debut, enough action to stir encouragement through the Phillies' ranks for one specific reason.

"I could tell he was throwing with more velocity," catcher Carlos Ruiz said.

"It looked like it had some giddy-up on it," pitching coach Bob McClure said. "That was good to see."

One radar gun clocked Papelbon's fastball Sunday at 92-93 m.p.h. That was an improvement from the end of 2013 and a fine speed for the first week of March. The opposition hit .303 against Papelbon in the second half of last season while his average fastball velocity dipped to 91 m.p.h.

Papelbon attributed some of that to a hip injury that nagged him all of last season.

Extra bases

Sandberg said he would have challenged a first-inning play at second base that cost the Phillies a run had instant replay been available Sunday. Shortstop Freddy Galvis snared a grounder and tried to force Pedro Alvarez at second base. Second-base umpire Mark Wegner ruled Alvarez safe although Galvis' foot beat him. Wegner told Sandberg he missed the call. The Phillies will be allowed to test the replay system in five games this spring. . . . Non-roster pitcher Sean O'Sullivan will start Wednesday's game against Atlanta as the Phillies continue to audition possible starting options.

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