Jeanmar Gomez might get shot to fill Phillies' closer job

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Jeanmar Gomez might get shot to fill Phillies' closer job

CINCINNATI – Next up in the Phillies’ search for a closer, Jeanmar Gomez.

The Phillies did not need a closer on Thursday – they lost 10-6 to Cincinnati (see game story) – but if they did, Gomez was probably going to be the man.

“I was thinking about Gomez,” manager Pete Mackanin said after the game. “We’re auditioning. We’ve got to find out. It’s a daily question. Why not Gomez? Let’s see what he can do.”

David Hernandez and Dalier Hinojosa both got chances late in games in the Phillies’ season-opening series in Cincinnati. Hernandez blew a lead in the eighth inning Monday and Hinojosa blew the save in the ninth on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Gomez pitched a scoreless seventh inning on Monday.

Mackanin has wrestled with a closer decision for weeks, even during spring training. There were a few times that Gomez’s name came up as a possibility, but Mackanin indicated he liked Gomez as a set-up man, particularly in the seventh inning. Gomez looked very comfortable there last year and not so comfortable later in the game. In all last year, he pitched in 65 games and had a 3.01 ERA.

But desperate times at the back of the bullpen have Mackanin leaning toward giving Gomez a shot.

“Yeah, I am,” Mackanin said. “One of the reasons he may have looked uncomfortable (later in the game last season) we think could be the fact that he was overworked. He was used so much and he had a problem with his knee. I think he was tired.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do (Friday in New York). We’ll have our meeting; I’ll have my meeting with (pitching coach Bob) McClure and we’ll talk about it. We decided today why not try Gomez and see what he looks like.”

Gomez should not be surprised if he gets the ball the next time the Phillies have the lead in the ninth.

“I had a meeting with the entire bullpen the first day we were in town and I told them not to be surprised in the seventh, eighth and ninth,” Mackanin said. “It’s up for grabs and everybody is going to be used in different ways and we’re going to see who fits where.

“It’s still a toss up.”

Phillies trim roster, send Tyler Goeddel, Jake Thompson to minors

Phillies trim roster, send Tyler Goeddel, Jake Thompson to minors

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- With a week to go before they leave Florida, the Phillies made several roster moves on Friday morning.

Outfielder Tyler Goeddel, who spent all of last season in the majors, was optioned to the minor leagues.

Pitcher Jake Thompson, who made 10 starts in the majors for the Phillies last season, was also optioned to the minors. He is expected to open the season in the starting rotation at Triple A Lehigh Valley.

The 23-year-old right-hander was one of five prospects the Phillies acquired from Texas for Cole Hamels in July 2015. He went 11-5 with a 2.50 ERA in 21 starts at Triple A last season and 3-6 with a 5.70 ERA with the big club.

Thompson could be one of the first to return to the majors if a need arises in the starting rotation.

Goeddel, 24, joined the Phillies' organization in December 2015 after being selected in the Rule 5 draft. He had originally been a first-round draft pick of the Tampa Bay Rays in 2011.

Players selected in the Rule 5 draft must spend and entire season in the majors or be exposed to waivers and offered back to their original club. The Phillies kept Goeddel all of last season, but he received only 213 at-bats and hit just .192 with four homers in 16 at-bats.

The additions of outfielders Howie Kendrick and Michael Saunders made Goeddel a long shot to make the team coming into camp.

Goeddel needs to recoup some at-bats in the minor leagues. The question is: where? The Phillies have three top outfielder prospects --Roman Quinn, Nick Williams and Dylan Cozens -- who will require regular playing time at Triple A. It's possible that Goeddel could open the season at Double A.

The Phils also sent pitcher Dalier Hinojosa, catcher Logan Moore and infielder Hector Gomez to minor-league camp.

Twins 4, Phillies 2: Aaron Nola encouraged by good health, still looking for command

Twins 4, Phillies 2: Aaron Nola encouraged by good health, still looking for command

BOX SCORE

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Aaron Nola has not had a great spring.

But in the big picture, well, maybe he has.

Nola was one of the Phillies' biggest and most important question marks coming into camp. He had missed the final two months of the 2016 season because of an elbow injury. All he needed to do this spring to be in the starting rotation was show that he was healthy.

He's done that.

He pitched 5 2/3 innings against the Minnesota Twins and threw 82 pitches in his fifth start of the spring on Thursday. He gave up six hits, including a two-run homer, walked one and struck out six.

He's up to 17 2/3 innings for the spring -- without an elbow issue.

"I'm over that," Nola said after the game. "My elbow feels really good. I haven't had any pain or problems with it. I don't even think about it throwing or in games.

"Everything has been very positive. My body is healthy."

Nola, who lines up to fill the fifth spot in the Phillies' rotation, hasn't had good results this spring. He has given up 19 hits and 13 earned runs. But, again, the Phillies were only looking for good health.

"He's been working on his changeup," manager Pete Mackanin said. "Today, he threw more changeups than I've ever seen him throw. The changeup he threw for the home run, he admitted, 'I would never throw that pitch in a game.' But he's working on it, trying to get it going for him, and I think it's going to be a good pitch for him. 

"He really pitched better than the result he got. He had a lot of work with his changeup, which is important. He was as sharp as we've seen him."

Coming into camp, Mackanin was concerned about Nola's health.

"I'm less concerned right now," the manager said. "It's always going to be in the back of my mind. But it's good to see 92, 93, 94 (mph) coming out of his hand, which is important. Once he regains that command, and he showed real good command of his fastball down in the zone today, he's going to be back to where he was -- with even maybe a little more velocity. We'll see. But the changeup is going to help him. I'm very encouraged."

The game
The Phillies lost, 4-2, to the Twins.

The Phils had 10 hits, two by Odubel Herrera, who homered.

Andrew Knapp, pushing to make the club, started behind the plate and had a double.

The Phillies were just 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position and left nine men on base.

The Phils' bullpen -- Sean Burnett, Edubray Ramos and Hector Neris -- accounted for 3 1/3 innings of scoreless ball.

Up next
The Phils play the Yankees in Tampa on Friday. Jeremy Hellickson will start against CC Sabathia.