Hamels strikes out Victorino in solid outing vs. Red Sox

hamels-slide-ap.jpg

Hamels strikes out Victorino in solid outing vs. Red Sox

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Phillies opening day starter Cole Hamels faced a Red Sox lineup Thursday night that closely resembled Boston’s opening day lineup. Hamels held the Red Sox to one run on four hits and two walks with five strikeouts over six innings. He threw 81 pitches, 53 for strikes.
 
Hamels’ outing went for naught, though, as the Red Sox scored five runs off right-hander Michael Stutes in the eighth to win, 6-1.
 
The Phillies got a run off Red Sox starter John Lackey in the first inning, when Pete Orr singled and Jimmy Rollins doubled with one out. Michael Young’s groundout scored Orr.
 
Hamels gave up a run in the second after Will Middlebrooks led off with a double and Jonny Gomes singled. Daniel Nava’s sacrifice fly to Laynce Nix in left scored Middlebrooks.
 
Hamels had runners on base in every inning but the fourth -- including when he allowed two-out baserunners in the first and third -- but limited the Red Sox offense. After a two-out walk to Dustin Pedroia in the first, he got Mike Napoli to fly out to Ben Revere in center. After Pedroia’s two-out single in the third, he struck out Napoli.
 
In the fifth, Sox No. 9 hitter Jose Iglesias reached on a bunt-single with one out. But, after striking out Jacoby Ellsbury, Hamels picked Iglesias off first to end the inning.
 
Hamels started his final frame striking out former teammate Shane Victorino looking on a curveball, the only one of  Hamels’ five strikeouts that was called.
 
“Actually, that's probably one of the best ones I've thrown in a really long time,” Hamels said. “Even with last season. So I guess I'll have to hear from him, because I know he's obviously not used to seeing me throw that, even though he was out in center field.
 
“He might just be silent,” Hamels joked of the loquacious Victorino.
 
Hamels was satisfied with his changeup and curveball. Facing a lineup that was representative of the regular season gave him a good read on his pitches.
 
“Now that we're kind of playing more of the big-time guys, guys' swings are obviously a lot better,” he said. “I think that's kind of a pitch, or pitches, that I definitely need to have down. Because I struggled with it early on, now it's building up the pitch count, able to kind of work for more innings, opposed to throwing only four or five when you have 30 or 40 pitches. Now I'm able to throw it like it's a game situation. I've got a really good feel on it. I still think I got away with some early on because I was doing something with my mechanics. Then I fixed it later on. I was able to get the action on my changeup and then my curveball's coming really well, too. It's not bad.”
 
Hamels’ next outing is scheduled for Tuesday, his last spring training start before opening day against the Braves.
 
“I think my body's starting to catch up,” Hamels said. “Just with, you build up the pitch count every five days, you build up the pitch count and you're still working out as hard as you possibly can so your body's not catching up. Obviously, as spring goes on your body starts to kind of get going. It always helps with the extra adrenaline. I think you get more zip on your ball.
 
“The speed will come once we get into the normal big-league season.”
 
Getting a start under the lights at this point in the spring, as he did against the Sox, helps in getting ready for the regular season, too, he said.
 
“It does. You're starting to look at the clock become a little more familiar,” he said. “Getting in the routine, which is huge. And that's just, that's how you get comfortable and that's how you go out and are able to execute and be the pitcher I'm capable of and everybody knows I'm capable of.”
 
The Red Sox got five runs in the seventh off Stutes. With two outs, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Nava walked. Iglesias grounded to shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt, whose toss to second baseman Freddy Galvis was late. Matty Johnson, running for Saltalamacchia, went home, beating the throw from Galvis.
 
After another walk to Ellsbury, Victorino’s triple to right scored three runs, ending Stutes’ outing. Michael Nesseth entered, giving up a double to Pedroia, scoring Victorino.
 
Left-hander Jeremy Horst pitched a scoreless eighth, giving up one hit.

Notes
• Outfielder Delmon Young, recovering from offseason ankle surgery, took balls in the outfield and ran the bases during workouts in Clearwater. Young will open the season on the disabled list. Team officials have estimated that he could be ready to be activated in mid- to late-April.
 
• The Phillies host the Atlanta Braves in Clearwater on Friday afternoon. Lefty pitching prospect Adam Morgan will come up from minor-league camp to make the start. The Phils needed a starter because Roy Halladay, recovering from a stomach bug, has been pushed back a day. He will pitch in a minor-league game Saturday.
 
• Catcher Carlos Ruiz was hit on the left hand with two outs in the ninth inning by a pitch from Anthony Carter. His condition was not known after the game.
 
• Galvis went 2 for 3 with a triple, the only Phillies batter with multiple hits.
 
• On seeing and facing former teammate Victorino, Hamels said:
 
“I think you're going to miss his personality and especially how good he is in the outfield. But, you just know it's baseball and I'm trying to get the guy out no matter if I’m good friends with him or not. But he is, he's always been a good friend. I was just trying to get him out because now it's bragging rights. You don't ever want a guy to get the bragging rights on you.
 
“Outside the lines, we were joking around, talking to each other. I think when I get between the lines I want to win. I don't care who I'm facing. Even if it's my mom or my brother or something. I'm trying to get him out. So, it is. It's serious business. I love obviously that I'm able to go out there. You just want to be the best no matter who you're facing.”

• Hamels on his beard: “No, it's not going to stay. … It's getting annoying. Getting food on it. I'm like, ‘Geez, no wonder my dad never had a beard.’ No one in my family's ever had a beard.”

Sources: Phillies close to signing reliever Joaquin Benoit

Sources: Phillies close to signing reliever Joaquin Benoit

WASHINGTON – It looks as if the Phillies will have some action at the winter meetings.

The team is close to signing veteran reliever Joaquin Benoit, sources tell CSNPhilly.com. The winter meetings officially begin on Monday. The signing is expected to be announced before the meetings end on Thursday.

Benoit, 39, is a veteran of 15 seasons in the majors. He is coming off a strong 2016 season in which he pitched in 51 games for Seattle and Toronto and recorded a 2.81 ERA.

Benoit began the 2016 season with the Mariners and had a 5.18 ERA in 26 games. He was traded to Toronto in July and gave up just one run in 23 2/3 innings over 25 games, but did not pitch in the postseason after suffering a torn calf muscle in late September.

The right-hander has pitched for six teams in his career and has a lifetime 3.79 ERA in 712 games.

Entering the offseason, Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said he wanted to improve the bullpen. He opened the offseason by trading for veteran right-hander Pat Neshek and last week claimed lefty David Rollins off waivers from Texas. Now, Klentak is poised to add Benoit.

Benoit has mostly pitched in a setup role in his career, but he does have closer experience. It is unclear what role he’d pitch in for the Phillies. The Phils have Jeanmar Gomez and Hector Neris returning to the back of their bullpen in 2017. Benoit could complement that pair or the Phillies could choose to trade Gomez or Neris.

Neris pitched in 79 games in 2016 and had a 2.58 ERA, so the Phillies would only deal him if they were to get a strong package of talent in return.

Phillies tender contracts to 3 players as Cody Asche becomes free agent

Phillies tender contracts to 3 players as Cody Asche becomes free agent

The Phillies tendered contracts to three arbitration-eligible players on Friday night and set another free.
 
Reliever Jeanmar Gomez and infielders Cesar Hernandez and Freddy Galvis were tendered contracts for the 2017 season while outfielder Cody Asche was let go after four seasons with the club. 
 
The Phillies signaled their intention to let Asche go when they designated him for assignment, a move that removed him from the 40-man roster, on Friday afternoon. The club had the option of trading Asche — and likely had discussions with other clubs — but ultimately decided to non-tender him before the 8 p.m. deadline. The move made Asche a free agent.
 
The Phils had removed Asche from the 40-man roster to clear a spot for David Rollins, a left-handed reliever who was claimed off waivers from Texas on Friday (see story)
 
Galvis and Hernandez, the team’s regular shortstop and second baseman, respectively, were certain to receive contracts for 2017. Gomez was less certain. He saved 37 games for the Phils in 2016, but struggled badly late in the season.
 
Phillies officials will try to negotiate 2017 salaries with all three players. If an agreement cannot be reached with a player, an arbitration hearing will be held later in the winter to determine that player’s salary for the coming season.
 
Gomez made $1.4 million in 2016, Galvis $2 million and Hernandez $525,000. According to mlbtraderumors.com, Gomez projects to make $4.6 million in arbitration, Galvis $4.4 million and Hernandez $2.5 million. 

The Phillies' roster is full at 40.