Jonathan Pettibone seeks good health in 2014

Jonathan Pettibone seeks good health in 2014

How can Phils improve rotation for 2014?

October 12, 2013, 4:00 pm
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Jonathan Pettibone went 5-4 with a 4.04 ERA in 18 starts for the Phillies in 2013. (USA Today Images)

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- There were a handful of bright spots in the Phillies’ disappointing 2013 season:

Domonic Brown had a strong first half on his way to the All-Star Game. Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels were stellar in the second half. Chase Utley managed to get his knee condition under control. Ben Revere put together 2 1/2 excellent months before his season ended with a broken ankle in mid-July. Carlos Ruiz finished strong. Jake Diekman’s control improved and his confidence soared in the final weeks of the season.

Jonathan Pettibone slips through the cracks a little bit because he missed the final two months of the season with a sore shoulder.

But a look back at the 23-year-old right-hander’s season shows that he, too, was a bright spot in a dark season.

Pettibone came up in April when injuries began to hit the Phillies’ rotation. What looked like a temporary stay turned into 18 starts. Pettibone allowed three or fewer runs in 15 of those 18 starts and the Phillies were 10-8 in those games.

“I got called up sooner than I anticipated,” Pettibone said earlier this week at the Phils’ minor-league complex in Clearwater, where he continues to rehab his shoulder.

“The goal was to stay as long as possible. The goal each start was to keep them in the game as much as possible. I felt if I did that the chances would be greater they’d want me around more because nothing was really promised for me besides that first start.”

Pettibone averaged less than six innings in his 18 starts. He will look to go deeper into games in 2014. But first things first: The club’s third-round pick from the 2008 draft needs to get completely healthy.

He’s almost there.

Pettibone was diagnosed with tendinitis in his rotator cuff and biceps tendon in July. He made a couple of minor-league rehab starts in August, but was still tender. He was shut down for six weeks and began a throwing program in Florida three weeks ago. So far, so good.

“Everything is good now,” he said.

Pettibone has been working out daily with Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, the Cuban defector who signed with the Phillies in August. Though team officials say Gonzalez is healthy, they are taking baby steps in getting him on a mound (see story). He is expected to throw a bullpen session in the next week or so then move into an offseason conditioning program before gearing up for spring training in January. Likewise, Pettibone is slated to throw at least two bullpen sessions within the next couple of weeks before heading home to California. He will return to Clearwater in January and make a bid to win a spot in a starting rotation that currently features three openings.

Pettibone has enjoyed getting to know Gonzalez, a 27-year-old right-hander.

“He’s got a good arm,” Pettibone said. “He’s firm. We’re on the same throwing program. I haven’t seen him off the mound, but his arm is live, strong.”

Pettibone is confident he will come to camp healthy in February. He hopes that good health and his positive audition in 2013 will help him win a spot in the rotation in April.

“I think I gave them an idea of what I can do,” Pettibone said of his 18 starts in 2013. “I need to show them I’m healthy. There are spots open.”