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SPORTS
March 20, 2016 | By Matt Gelb, STAFF WRITER
CLEARWATER, Fla. - A year ago Sunday, Maikel Franco stuffed a red duffel bag with his baseball belongings. He walked to the Carpenter Complex as a minor-league player, the result of overswinging to impress Phillies officials in spring training. His time, they told him, would come. Franco became Sal Rende's pupil once again. The hitting coach at triple-A Lehigh Valley met with Franco and outlined his goals. Better pitch selection. More patience. Knowing the situation , a word Franco constantly repeats from his established corner of the clubhouse at Bright House Field.
SPORTS
March 19, 2016 | By Matt Gelb, Staff Writer
CLEARWATER, Fla. - Vince Velasquez was in trouble. As his pitch count mounted Thursday in the fifth inning of a 6-1 Phillies loss, his fourth Grapefruit League start neared its conclusion. A single followed by double off the wall put Tampa Bay runners on second and third. Catcher Gabriel Lino trotted to the mound. "Let's just get after it," Velasquez told Lino. "No messing around. Let's just get after it. " The 23-year-old righthander used his secondary pitches to reach two-strike counts.
SPORTS
March 19, 2016 | By Matt Gelb, Staff Writer
CLEARWATER, Fla. - This spring, Ryan Howard said, is about fun. "Smiling again," he said Thursday, soon after he doubled and homered against a lefthanded pitcher. Fun, because there is no such thing as a platoon in the Grapefruit League. When the season starts April 4, Howard is likely to split time at first base with Darin Ruf. A few at-bats in the spring will not change that, but Howard is unequivocal in his belief that he can still hit lefties. He is happy to have the chance, for now. This spring, he is 3 for 6 with two doubles, a home run and one strikeout against lefthanded pitching.
SPORTS
March 17, 2016 | By Matt Gelb, Staff Writer
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. - He was three more conquered batters closer to a goal that a 31-year-old survivor of shoulder surgery no longer considers paramount. Yes, Andrew Bailey said, everyone wants to be the closer. But surgery, which rendered the former rookie of the year and all-star reliever an afterthought, forces one to reassess his priorities. "I felt good," Bailey said Tuesday after striking out the side for his fourth scoreless outing of the spring. And, in the quest to find the next Phillies closer, that is an important step.
SPORTS
March 15, 2016 | By Matt Breen, Staff Writer
TAMPA, Fla. - Pete Mackanin glanced Saturday at the numbers and reports on the three pitchers competing to be the Phillies' fifth starter. He met Sunday morning with his coaches to discuss it. Midway through spring training, the manager is encouraged. "We tried to figure it out," Mackanin said. "Let me put it this way: It's a problem, but it's the kind of problem we were hoping to have. So it's a great problem and we're just going to continue to see them pitch and hope that the best man wins.
SPORTS
March 12, 2016 | By Matt Breen, STAFF WRITER
CLEARWATER, Fla. - Freddy Galvis thought the Phillies clubhouse was too quiet when he arrived last month at spring training. So Galvis went to a nearby electronics store and purchased an oversize speaker to stash in the empty locker next to his stall. The second baseman plays the role of DJ, controlling the music as the team arrives in the morning or eats lunch before games. "It was something that I tried to do to have a good clubhouse," Galvis said. "I think the music is good for that.
SPORTS
March 12, 2016 | By Matt Gelb, Staff Writer
CLEARWATER, Fla. - One by one, the players gravitated Thursday morning to one corner of the crowded Phillies clubhouse to embrace three young pitchers. Mark Appel, Zach Eflin, and Jake Thompson emptied their lockers into red bags. Veterans shook their hands. Other prospects hugged and joked with them. The future rotation was demoted to minor-league camp. "Hopefully, we'll all get up at the same time and play for 10 years," Thompson said. "That's how it's supposed to work. " It is dangerous, of course, to assume anything about pitching prospects.
SPORTS
March 11, 2016
There was no hesitation from Yadier Molina. The St. Louis Cardinals catcher stepped up and made the play. Molina executed the maneuver that got him injured, a sweeping tag at the plate, saving a run in his spring training debut. "I was ready, I wasn't thinking about anything," Molina said after playing three innings against the Miami Marlins on Wednesday in Jupiter, Fla. "I just tried to get the guy and everything went right. " Molina wore a splint to protect his surgically repaired thumb and played three innings, but did not bat after being listed ninth in the lineup.
SPORTS
March 8, 2016 | By Matt Breen, Staff Writer
CLEARWATER, Fla. - Daniel Stumpf said he is here to get lefthanded hitters out, and that's what he did on Sunday. The lefthanded pitcher retired both lefties he faced as Stumpf continued to make his case for a spot in the team's bullpen. Stumpf retired five of his six batters in a 6-5 win over the New York Yankees. His lone hit allowed was a ground-ball single. It was the first hit he allowed this spring in 32/3 innings. Stumpf struck out lefthander Didi Gregorius in the third inning and forced lefthander Dustin Ackley to fly out in the fourth.
SPORTS
March 8, 2016
After all that, Chase Utley is safe. The two-game suspension imposed on the Los Angeles Dodgers infielder after his hard takeout slide broke the leg of Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada in last year's playoffs has been dropped. A person briefed on the decision told the Associated Press on Sunday that Major League Baseball and the players union reached an agreement that rescinded the ban. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because there was no announcement. The Dodgers declined comment, pending an official release.
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