Charlie Manuel Changes Bullpen… Again
CLEARWATER, Fla.—It seems Charlie Manuel isn’t easily impressed by relievers. Or, that after the Phillies bullpen last season blew 17 leads in the seventh inning or later, he’s a quick skeptic.
Either way, high praise for the bullpen hasn't come easy for Manuel this spring.
“We gotta get those guys in there and get 'em going, get 'em sharp,” Manuel said after a 5-3 win over the Orioles on Sunday. “Some of those guys are going to be on the team, when you look at it. But we've gotta get 'em going. They've gotta be ready for when the season starts.”
This, after left-hander Jeremy Horst allowed just one hit and struck out two in two innings and was charged with the win, and righty Phillippe Aumont retired two of five batters via strikeout.
On Friday, Manuel sang a similar tune.
“Mike Adams is throwing good,” he said. “The rest of them have to pick it up, put more on the ball and throw strikes.”
That, after another scoreless, hitless inning for Horst, and left-hander Antonio Bastardo. Righty Justin DeFratus allowed a home run in that game, but was optioned to Triple-A on Sunday morning with lefty Jake Diekman. Manuel’s criticism, then, wasn’t limited to him.
In fairness to Manuel, Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee was similarly harsh, at least on Horst.
“I thought he was just fair,” he said. “I've seen him better.”
Dubee also noted that neither Horst nor Aumont were originally penned in to pitch until Monday, and were turned to only after the roster moves on Diekman and DeFratus were made.
After a train wreckish seventh and eighth inning situation a year ago, when the Phillies relied on inexperienced relievers that flashed in 2011, it’s likely they carry seven relievers this season.
Closer Jonathan Papelbon, set-up man Mike Adams, Chad Durbin and Bastardo have secured spots. All but Bastardo are righties. Lefthander Raul Valdes makes sense as a long man. Horst was thought to have the inside track for how he performed last season after roster expansion.
Diekman’s demotion figures to boost Horst’s candidacy, if only because the Phillies need lefties.
Aumont is among the others vying for the final roster spot.
Sunday captured all of why he may be the toughest player Manuel must decide on this spring. He threw balls on 10 of 11 pitches, displaying the command issues that make the coaching staff weary of him. But when he settled in, even if only against a split Orioles squad, he showcased the high-90s fastball that makes for a scary seventh-inning option and, maybe, alternate closer.
“He's going to have to have some rope,” Dubee said. “Because he's going to have some moments where he's going to lose it for a while. But again, I think he did (well) last year when he came up and today, he righted the ship, where in the past, he hasn't been able to.”
Though it was neither Aumont nor Papelbon, scratched on Sunday with the flu, that closed. Instead, it was minor leaguer Ryan O’Sullivan, after allowing two runs and four hits in the ninth.
“I went with the odds,” Dubee said on Sunday, St. Patrick’s Day.
GALVIS CATCHES MANUEL'S EYE
CLEARWATER, Fla.—Questions posed to Charlie Manuel about utility infielder and roster hopeful Freddy Galvis game after the Phillies 5-3 win over the Orioles on Sunday at Bright House Field here were varied.
Some reporters noted Galvis’ extra-base pop this spring, an ability that wasn’t so developed earlier the Venezuelan’s young career. Another quipped that it seemed as if Galvis was taking his Omar Vizquel pills. (Which was probably a bad pun.)
Charlie Manuel’s responses were more general.
“Freddy's a good player,” he said. “Bottom line, Freddy's a good player.”
He said it again.
If you’re wondering how Manuel feels about the 23-year-old, there’s your answer.
Galvis mashed his second home run of the spring in the fifth inning on Sunday, a two-run shot off of Orioles starter Jason Hammel. Incidentally, it was his third career St. Patrick’s Day bomb. He finished 1-for-4 with two strikeouts.
In 18 Grapefruit League games in 2013, Galvis is slugging .548, with a .278 average and .304 on-base percentage. Of his 15 his, nine have been for extra bases.
Last year in Chase Utley’s stead at second base, Galvis hit .226/.254/.363 with 29 strikeouts in 190 at-bats. And that was before a season-ending pars fracture, and 50-game PED ban after testing positive for a metabolite of clostebol.
Given the need for infield depth with Utley and an age-34 Jimmy Rollins, Galvis was likely a shoo-in for a roster spot along with third baseman Kevin Frandsen.
His showing this spring may justify playing time beyond days off for others.
“I'll playFreddy some,” said Manuel.
*** Jimmy Rollins will rejoin the Phillies on Monday, Manuel said. He'll play with the minor leaguers on Monday and Tuesday, before getting big-league work Thursday.