Phillies 2, Braves 2: Abreu still reaching base

Phillies 2, Braves 2: Abreu still reaching base

Is Phillies' low batting average cause for concern?

March 5, 2014, 5:45 pm
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Bobby Abreu has just two hits in five games, but his on-base percentage is .444 this spring. (AP)

CLEARWATER, Fla. – Bobby Abreu has just two hits in five spring-training games.

But he’s still making a good impression on Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg.

“He’s having quality at-bats,” Sandberg said. “He’s battling pitchers. He’s been a base runner quite often.”

That’s something many other Phillies haven’t been able to do this spring.

The Phils played to a 2-2 tie with the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday afternoon. Reliever Brad Lincoln threw away a ball on a run-down play in the top of the ninth and that led to the tying run.

Extra innings were not played.

The Phils had just five hits in the game, all singles. They are 1-6-1 on the spring and are hitting .190 as a team. They have scored two or fewer runs four times. (For the record, the Braves are 1-6-2.)

“I feel like it’s going to come,” Sandberg said of the offense. “Sometimes it takes a couple of weeks.”

Abreu is one of the players who has been getting on base. In 18 plate appearances, he has five walks and has been hit by a pitch. His on-base percentage is .444.

Abreu turns 40 next week. If he can play passable defense in right field and continue to have good at-bats, he will make the club as a lefty bat off the bench.

“Working counts and getting on base is a big part of the game,” he said. “I just try to put the ball in play and if they don’t throw me a strike, I don’t swing.”

The Phillies didn’t have a hit until the fourth inning. Abreu was hit by a pitch with one out. He moved up on a single by Darin Ruf and scored on a hit by Kevin Frandsen. Frandsen had two hits in the game.

Shift work
The Phillies utilized a shift on left-handed hitting Freddie Freeman in the game. Sandberg said the Phillies will use more of that defensive alignment this season. The club is using video and data to determine which hitters to use a shift against.

“We’ll look at all our information and make decisions off of that,” Sandberg said.

Remembering Fregosi
The Phillies and Braves organizations joined in a touching tribute to Jim Fregosi before the game. Fregosi died of a stroke Feb. 14 at the age of 71 (see story).

Fregosi was an all-star player with the Angels. He managed four big-league clubs, including the NL champion 1993 Phillies and spent the last 13 years working as a scout for the Braves.

Several dozen scouts from all over baseball were on hand for the tribute, as well as many of Fregosi’s former players and teammates. Darren Daulton, leader of the 1993 Phillies, was on hand, as well as Lee Thomas, GM of the 1993 Phillies and a former teammate of Fregosi’s with the Angels.

Fregosi lived in the Clearwater area and often scouted at Bright House Field. He was impossible to miss with his straw hat on his head. Braves GM Frank Wren placed that hat on an empty seat in the scouts’ section behind home plate during the tribute.

Road to recovery
Thursday is supposed to be the day for Cole Hamels to throw live batting practice, but pitching coach Bob McClure would not confirm that it would happen until he checked with head athletic trainer Scott Sheridan. Hamels has been throwing pain-free after an offseason bout of shoulder tendinitis, but his schedule has not been etched in stone.

Reliever Mike Adams, recovering from shoulder surgery, threw another bullpen session Wednesday. If all continues to go well, he could face some hitters in live batting practice next week.

Up next
The Phillies play a pair of games on Thursday afternoon. Half the squad will travel to Lakeland to face Justin Verlander and the Tigers. The other half will stay in Clearwater to take on the Yankees. Japanese import Masahiro Tanaka will start for the Yankees against Kyle Kendrick.

David Buchanan is scheduled to start in Lakeland. He will be followed by Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez.

Here is Thursday’s scheduled lineup in Clearwater:

Freddy Galvis, SS
Kevin Frandsen, 3B
Chase Utley, 2B
Ryan Howard, 1B
Marlon Byrd, RF
Domonic Brown, LF
Carlos Ruiz, C
John Mayberry Jr., CF
Reid Brignac, DH

And in Lakeland:

Ben Revere, CF
Jimmy Rollins, SS
Bobby Abreu, RF
Darin Ruf, 1B
Maikel Franco, DH
Cody Asche, 3B
Tony Gwynn Jr., LF
Cesar Hernandez, 2B
Wil Nieves, C