Phillies Notes: Abreu off to slow start this spring

Bobby Abreu is not turning any heads this spring. The veteran outfielder is 2 for 18 (.111) in exhibition games. YONG KIM / Staff
Bobby Abreu is not turning any heads this spring. The veteran outfielder is 2 for 18 (.111) in exhibition games. YONG KIM / Staff
Posted: March 11, 2014

FORT MYERS, Fla. - There are three weeks until the Phillies open the season at Texas, which means Bobby Abreu has three weeks to enhance a spring tryout that is two lackluster weeks old.

"Well," Ryne Sandberg said, "his batting practices are very impressive."

The Phillies manager did not offer much else about Abreu's spring performance. The outfielder turns 40 on Tuesday, and his early birthday gift Sunday was a 272-mile trek to and from Hammond Stadium. Abreu grounded out to the right side three times, one of which was a double play, in a 1-1 tie with Minnesota.

He is 2 for 18 (.111) in eight Grapefruit League games. The two hits are both singles. His .333 on-base percentage is boosted by five walks and a hit-by-pitch.

What does Sandberg need to see?

"Well, more at-bats," he said. "He's gotten several walks up to this point, so [we] just need to see him get some pitches to hit and see more at-bats, basically."

Abreu will earn $800,000 if he makes the Phillies' 25-man roster. The Phillies were hooked by Abreu's play during Venezuelan winter league. Abreu played all winter - the season ended Jan. 22 - and the Phillies expected to see a player with sharpened bat skills because of that recent activity.

"He's still yet to really put together a big game offensively," Sandberg said.

Sandberg noted that Abreu, who played right field Sunday, played shallower after an adjustment made by the coaching staff. Abreu, the manager said, was accustomed to playing deeper to keep balls in front of him. But Abreu's limited range did not allow him a chance at softer-hit balls.

Replay troubles

Major League Baseball is testing its new replay rules in select Grapefruit League games. Sunday was one, although not in the most ideal circumstances.

The TV feeds to each dugout had a 45-second delay, Sandberg said. That rendered decisions to challenge plays difficult. There were limited camera views. Sandberg thought about challenging a play early in the game but was told no replay existed.

The umpires reviewed two eighth-inning plays in the span of three batters. Both plays were upheld because of inconclusive video angles. The second review took 2 minutes, 20 seconds.

Sandberg expects a more efficient process in the regular season.

"It's not even close to the same," Sandberg said.

Extra bases

The Phillies were no-hit for the game's first five innings. Their lone run scored with the help of a Twins error. . . . Ronny Cedeno started at shortstop after missing the previous week with a back injury. If the Phillies do not add Cedeno to their 25-man roster by March 26, they must release him or pay him a $100,000 retention bonus to go to triple-A. . . . A Hammond Stadium-record 8,764 people attended Sunday's game. Many were Phillies fans.

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