Bastardo draws trade interest, Sandberg praise

Bastardo draws trade interest, Sandberg praise
July 22, 2014, 7:30 pm
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Antonio Bastardo has held both left-handed and right-handed hitters to a batting average under .168. (AP)

Ryne Sandberg has managed the Phillies for almost a year, so by now we know he is not one to blabber on and on about a particular topic.

So it was kind of interesting to hear Sandberg talk so expansively when Antonio Bastardo’s name came up before Tuesday night’s game.

Sandberg praised the left-handed reliever for his effectiveness and durability. It almost sounded like a sales pitch, which was interesting because scouts from Kansas City, Detroit, Pittsburgh and Toronto have been in town for two days now. All those clubs are monitoring the market for relievers. Sources say the Royals are very interested in Phillies relievers (read: Bastardo). The Tigers are keeping an eye on Bastardo and Jonathan Papelbon. Pittsburgh and Toronto have also been connected to Bastardo.

Bastardo pitched a scoreless inning with two strikeouts on Monday night. In 43 2/3 innings this season, he has a 3.30 ERA. (Take out one bad outing June 28 in Atlanta and his ERA is 2.28.) Bastardo has recorded 53 strikeouts and walked 24. He has allowed just 24 hits and has held both left-handed and right-handed hitters to a batting average under .168.

“He’s been very consistent for a long period of time,” Sandberg said. “Just good stuff, mixing his pitches really well, real good location. He’s been equally effective against left-handed and right-handed batters. He’s done a nice job.

“I remember just a couple outings where he struggled. One was walking some guys and the other was trying to close it out in New York (in May.) Since then he’s made some adjustments and stayed with it. He’s really back to where he should be.”

Sandberg kept heaping on the praise.

“His slider is very effective, his changeup is good, his fastball is deceptive,” he said. “He’s in a groove now.

“The other thing about him is he’s very durable. He’s resilient and he likes the ball. That’s huge. We’ve had a couple times when we’ve been short and he’s been the choice guy just because of the way he bounces back. And once again, he was quality, and he allowed the other guys to have a break. So he’s very reliable out there.”

Bastardo, who turns 29 in September, is under control and arbitration eligible for next season. He is making $2 million this season. The Phillies are not in a hurry to move him, but they believe he could bring back some value and they have two developing lefties, Jake Diekman and Mario Hollands, that they believe are ready to carry the load from that side.

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