Phillies Notes: More Cuts, Pitcher Bats Eighth
Phillies Spring Training continues, with Opening Day just under three weeks away. In camp, new manager Gabe Kapler got people's attention with his lineup strategy. Meanwhile, the Phillies made a handful of cuts to their major league camp over the weekend.
On Friday, the Phillies optioned infielder Eliezer Alvarez, outfielder Dylan Cozens and pitchers Franklyn Kilome and Jose Tavaras to Triple-A Lehigh Valley.
On Saturday there were many more. Reliever Ricardo Pinto was optioned to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Heading over to minor league camp included catcher Nick Rickles, infielder Heiker Meneses, left-handed pitchers Cole Irvin and Brandon Leibrandt and pitcher Enyel De Los Santos.
Of all the names leaving minor league camp, only Pinto perhaps had a chance to stick. But with a deep bullpen and inexperience for Pinto, sticking around was not a consideration. For Cozens, Spring Training was somewhat of a disappointment. While Cozens has tremendous power, Cozens batted just .174 and failed to connect for a home run.
Cozens will work at Triple-A on making contact and try to show the Phillies that his minor league power will translate to a major league roster spot down the line.
Pitcher Batting Eighth
When Saturday's starting lineup was posted, some heads were turned in Clearwater. The Phillies did not use a designated hitter for the first time all Spring. With much of the projected starting lineup taking the field, starting pitcher Vince Velasquez was batting eighth.
Kapler explained the move to MLB.com's Todd Zolecki:
"We want more runners on base at the top of the lineup," Kapler said. "We're utilizing J.P.'s superior on-base skills. That's the intent there. It's possible that we use a similar kind of lineup during the season. We don't want to do anything for the first time in the season that we didn't do in practice here."
Read the full story on MLB.com here.
Former Phillies manager Pete Mackanin tried the same strategy back in 2016. The numbers showed that the Phillies lineup hit better with the pitcher hitting eighth, but Mackanin abandoned that strategy. However, that could have more to do with the lineup featuring Peter Bourjos, David Lough, Manny Burriss and Cedric Hunter as regular starters.
Judging by Kapler's recent lineups the Phillies lineup might look something like this:
- Hernandez 2B
- Santana 1B
- Herrera CF
- Hoskins LF
- Williams/Altherr RF
- Franco 3B
- Alfaro C
- Crawford SS
Kapler still has a few weeks to figure that out.
The Phillies play back-to-back night games on the road. Sunday night the Phillies will face the Baltimore Orioles in Sarasota at 6:35 p.m. On Monday evening, the Phillies will head to Kissimmee to the Wide World of Sports. Often, the Phillies starting lineup will not make these trips. Of the two, the starters are more likely to play the game in Sarasota, since it is the closer location.