Phillies Notes: Early in games, Phils' hitters struggle mightily

Phillies' Ryan Howard swings hit bat after striking out. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)
Phillies' Ryan Howard swings hit bat after striking out. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)
Posted: March 13, 2014

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - The first 15 Phillies to bat Tuesday were retired in order. They did not muster a hit until two outs in the seventh inning, when Kevin Frandsen blooped a Craig Kimbrel pitch to the opposite field. They lost for the 10th time in 14 Grapefruit League games.

No, it is not wise to make judgments using spring statistics - especially in a two-week sample size and for players with guaranteed jobs - but there is a worrisome pattern in the Phillies' malaise.

They were no-hit through three innings for the fifth time in seven games. They have scored a run before the fourth inning just twice in 11 March games. The early innings are the closest replication of a regular-season game; the majority of the lineup is regular players and the opposition's best pitcher is throwing.

"In some regards, it's not that concerning," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. "In other regards, as far as spring-training games, it sets a tough tone for the rest of the game. I don't remember the last time that we've scored in the first three or four innings. So it makes it tough for the game that day."

But, in the bigger picture, Sandberg scoffs at a .186 team batting average.

"Overall, I look at our potential lineup and I see the guys that aren't hitting and not overly concerned," Sandberg said. "But as far as wins and losses, it has a big effect on the record in spring training."

The Phillies are 2-10-2 this spring.

Stutes outrighted

Righthander Mike Stutes cleared outright waivers and was removed from the Phillies' 40-man roster Tuesday. Stutes, who was demoted to minor-league camp Saturday, will remain in the organization.

The 27-year-old reliever was roughed up for seven runs in three innings this spring. His fastball could not reach 90 m.p.h. and he was a surprise inclusion among the team's first cuts. Stutes emerged as a dependable reliever in 2011 but has battled shoulder ailments ever since.

The move opens a spot on the 40-man roster for a nonroster camp invitee such as Bobby Abreu, Shawn Camp, Jeff Manship, or David Buchanan. The Phillies have 39 players on their 40-man roster.

Extra bases

Cole Hamels will test his left shoulder with a bullpen session Wednesday morning at Bright House Field. The Phillies hope Hamels can resume a throwing program after a week of inactivity. He is expected to miss most of April, if not more time. . . . Sandberg offered high praise for Darin Ruf, who made offseason adjustments to his stance. "He came in and applied it immediately," Sandberg said. "For a guy who is looking to be on the team and win a job, he's gone about it the right way." . . . Kyle Kendrick did not start a minor-league game Tuesday as scheduled because of flu symptoms. He will pitch Wednesday. . . . Greg Luzinski spent the last two days in uniform as a guest instructor.

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