Phillies' bats still silent back at CBP

Posted: March 30, 2014

AS SPRING training wraps up, the Phillies are back home with some of the same habits left over from 2013.

In their first exhibition game at Citizens Bank Park this spring, the Phillies' bats were silenced in the team's 3-0 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates. The loss gives Philadelphia a 9-18-3 spring record.

"It feels good [to be back], and with the season opener right around the corner, these two games are nice tuneup games really to get the players familiar with things," manager Ryne Sandberg said. "For the young players that we are counting on being here and will go with a couple of games here, it will go a long way with them, but it also gives the players a chance to get settled in here."

Starting pitcher Kyle Kendrick came out strong in front of 24,274 fans, with five scoreless innings. Kendrick threw 63 pitches and allowed three hits, while walking two and striking out two.

"It felt good," Kendrick said. "I tried to carry my last start over into tonight, and it was my last start going into the season, so obviously, you want to finish on a good note. I was just trying to do the usual, get ahead, pound the zone and get my work in, and it was good to finish on [an up note], and I'm looking forward to the real games now.

"It's nice to get up here and pitch in front of our fans in the big-league ballpark, and it felt good."

The Pirates scored the first run off reliever Phillippe Aumont in the sixth when a Russell Martin double scored Andrew McCutchen, who had reached on a fielder's choice. Aumont was replaced by Antonio Bastardo after recording one out and was charged with two earned runs after Neil Walker's third hit drove in Martin.

Just as for much of the time in Florida, the Phillies' bats remained quiet. Seven Pittsburgh pitchers held them to three hits.

Before the game, Sandberg said he was not concerned about the offense.

"We've talked about that, and we did show some quality in the last eight or nine games and the offense came alive," he said. "We had a three-game stretch of 11- and 12-hit games in a row, and the guys showed the promise there and showed the spark. Getting off to a good start is important and seeing the quality at-bats down the stretch was important."

The Phillies' lone offensive performer was second baseman Chase Utley, who was 3-for-3 with two doubles and a single.

Like his manager, closer Jonathan Papelbon is not concerned about the team, only 2 days before Opening Day against the Rangers in Texas.

"Does this face look like I have any concerns?" Papelbon said, with his infamous straight-faced stare. "Nothing."

Despite injuries and a poor record this spring, the Phillies remain optimistic and hope to right the offensive ship with today's exhibition game.

"I think we're pretty close to being where we want to be," said Papelbon, who struck out the side in top of the ninth. "I think that we have to start off on a good streak here and get the monkey off of our backs, so to speak. We are kind of saying, the hell with everybody else and doing whatever it takes to win. I think that's the attitude that we should take and the attitude that we are going to take."

Injury notes

Early yesterday, the Phillies placed six players on the 15-day disabled list, among them starting pitchers Cole Hamels and Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez. Hamels will begin the season on the DL because of tendinitis in his left biceps, while Gonzalez continues to recover from right shoulder tendinitis.

"[Hamels] pitched very well yesterday with two very effective innings," general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "He looks great, feels great, and the rest is normal spring training situation where he will get stretched out and we will try to get him out here on the mound in Philadelphia as soon as possible."

Setup man Mike Adams, who pitched for the first time earlier this week after missing the final 3 1/2 months of the 2013 season, continues to recover from right shoulder surgery. In Adams' first appearance this spring, the veteran reliever was hitting around 87 on the radar gun in one inning pitched, a year removed from hitting 89 to 91 mph.

"[Adams] was pretty effective in his first game that he pitched vs. the Yankees and that was a good sign," Amaro said. "Again, we are progressing to get him as many reps as necessary, so he will be able to pitch, and hopefully sometime in mid- to late April, we will see him."

Righthanded reliever Ethan Martin also will be sidelined because of right shoulder inflammation.

Two of the Phillies' key bench players will begin the season on the DL as well: Outfielder/first baseman Darin Ruf is recovering from a left oblique strain and infielder/outfielder Freddy Galvis continues to heal from a left knee infection.

"We have some moving parts," Sandberg said. "Cole is coming along fine. The schedule helps us to possibly go with a four-man rotation with some days off early and possibly go with eight in the bullpen.

"We'll cover Freddy Galvis for the time that he is out, but he is on a little bit of a faster track than what we first anticipated, so that is good news. In the meantime, we will choose players, and there are still a couple of decisions to be made that will get us through that time and make sense, then know that we will be at full strength when Cole and Freddy get back."

Phillies acquire Jayson Nix

The Phillies acquired infielder Jayson Nix from the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for cash considerations. Nix, 31, hit .270 (10-37) with four doubles and one home run for the Rays this spring as a non-roster invitee. Last season, the younger brother of former Phillie Laynce Nix played in 87 games for the New York Yankees and batted .236 with three home runs and 24 RBI.


On Twitter: @JohnMurrow12

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