CLEARWATER, Fla. -- St. Patrick's Day is always a festive affair at Camp Clearwater. The Phillies wear green jerseys and caps and fans pack the place and have a few cold ones under the hot sun.
The third-largest crowd in the 14-year history of Spectrum Field -- 11,173 -- came out for Friday's quasi-holiday matchup between the Phillies and Toronto Blue Jays. Phillies fans did not see a win -- the Jays prevailed, 7-5 -- but there was some entertainment.
Howie Kendrick and Aaron Altherr both went deep and Pat Venditte, the ambidextrous reliever (see story), made his Phillies debut and struck out the side in the ninth inning. He struck out two batters from the right side and one from the left.
"He's really fun to watch," manager Pete Mackanin said. "I like the way he threw. He mixed it up from both sides. I guess he's going to go in and ice both his arms now.
"If he continues to be effective, he'll be in the mix."
Venditte has pitched in the majors with Oakland, Seattle and Toronto. He was pleased with his Phillies debut.
"When you get to a new team, you definitely want to start on the right foot and fill up the strike zone," he said. "It was nice to do that."
Nola builds up
Aaron Nola continued to show good arm strength in his fourth start of the spring. He worked 4 2/3 innings and threw four-seam fastballs early, hitting 94 mph on the stadium radar gun.
Nola threw more two-seamers (sinkers) in later innings, and his changeup looked good.
"He threw a lot of good changeups," Mackanin said. "And the velocity was important to me. The command will come next. Once he gets to the point where he's commanding his pitches, he's going to be back to where he's supposed to be."
Nola struck out four, but his command was off and he allowed four walks.
"The walks hurt me, obviously," he said. "Four walks and I think they all scored. Walks are never a good thing, but other than that my body felt good.
"I feel like I'm almost where I need to be going into the season. A few more outings and I think I'll be good to go for the season."
"Keep on staying healthy, that's my main focus right now," added the right-hander, who missed the final two months of last season with an elbow injury.
Ben Lively, an 18-game winner in the minors last season, had a rough outing. He allowed four hits, including a grand slam, and a walk over 2 1/3 innings. Lively was optioned to Triple-A after the game. The Phillies are high on him and he will be part of the Lehigh Valley rotation to open the season.
Earlier in the day, the Phils sent three top prospects, J.P. Crawford, Jorge Alfaro and Nick Williams, to Triple-A (see story).
They left with instructions.
"I like all of them," Mackanin said. "They need to go [to minor-league camp] and get consistent at-bats and get off to a quick start.
"We told all of them, 'Make us call you up. Do well enough to force our hand.'"
The Phillies host the Pittsburgh Pirates on Saturday afternoon. Jeremy Hellickson will start for the Phillies against Tyler Glasnow.