Jeanmar Gomez will be 'contento' in whatever role he fills

Jeanmar Gomez will be 'contento' in whatever role he fills

CLEARWATER, Fla. — For the third time in recent weeks, Pete Mackanin on Tuesday said he expected Jeanmar Gomez to be his closer when the Phillies open their season in April.

“He had a hiccup,” said Mackanin, referring to the struggles that caused Gomez to lose his hold on the job in September. “But, at the same time, I believe he deserves to be called our closer at this point.”

At this point — a skipper’s way of leaving himself some wiggle room.

For the record, Gomez, who had 37 saves before his September to forget, does not have a preferred role.

“I don’t think about it,” he said after the first official workout of the spring for pitchers and catchers on Tuesday. “Whatever role I have I just want to do well.”

So it doesn’t matter if he’s the seventh-inning guy, or the eighth-inning guy, or the ninth-inning guy?

“No,” he said.

He’d be happy however it plays out?

“Contento,” the soft-spoken Venezuelan said with a smile.

If Gomez has a hiccup and Mackanin decides to employ the at this time qualifier and go in another direction at closer, the Phillies have other candidates to handle the ninth inning. Hector Neris can do the job. So can newcomer Joaquin Benoit.

Gomez, 29, entered last season as a setup man. He was elevated to the closer role out of desperation, after others had failed early in the season. Gomez doesn’t have prototypical closer’s stuff — his sinker is his go-to pitch — but he got the job done for just over five months, converting 37 of 43 saves chances.

Gomez was taken out of the closer’s role over the final few weeks of the season. He gave up 17 earned runs in September and opponents hit .467. Over the first five months, he gave up just 20 earned runs in 58 games and opponents hit .253.

“September was tough,” Gomez admitted. “I had the same velocity but my ball was not moving. It got flat. It was a learning experience.”

He hopes to build on that learning experience in 2017 — in whatever role he has.

Best of MLB: Mets beat Max Scherzer, first-place Nationals

Best of MLB: Mets beat Max Scherzer, first-place Nationals

WASHINGTON -- With Bryce Harper coming to the plate with the bases loaded and the Mets clinging to a two-run, ninth-inning lead, New York manager Terry Collins went to the mound and replaced closer Jeurys Familia with left-hander Josh Edgin.

"If we'd have won seven in a row, I probably would have left Jeurys out there, because that's what he's here to do," Collins said.

But the Mets had lost six in a row and 10 of 11, falling 7 games behind NL East-leading Washington.

Edgin got Harper to hit a comebacker the reliever turned in a game-ending double play as the Mets held on for a 7-5 victory Friday night (see full recap).

Yankees rally from 8 down to beat Orioles
NEW YORK -- Matt Holliday ended a thrilling duel of home run derby in the Bronx with one final thump.

Holliday hit the eighth homer of the game, a three-run shot in the 10th inning as the New York Yankees completed a stunning rally from an eight-run deficit, outslugging the Baltimore Orioles 14-11 Friday night.

"It's an amazing feeling. We're down 9-1, and then we were down 11-4," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "They never quit. We have the ability to hit the ball out of the ballpark and that's what we did."

Starlin Castro slipped to a knee when he tied it with a two-run drive that capped a three-run burst in the ninth off Brad Brach. Then in the 10th, Holliday hit the Yankees' fifth homer of the evening with one out off Jayson Aquino (1-1) and was mobbed at the plate (see full recap).

Red Sox get to Arrieta early, beat Cubs
BOSTON -- Against Chicago Cubs ace Jake Arrieta, the Red Sox didn't have time for a slow start Friday night -- not exactly a strength for them this season.

Andrew Benintendi helped Boston solve that issue, and the club just had to hang on from there.

Benintendi hit a solo homer off Arrieta to spark a five-run first inning and Boston beat Chicago 5-4.

The Red Sox had just seven first-inning runs this season entering Friday (see full recap).

Soto's 2-run single leads White Sox past Tigers
DETROIT -- Mike Pelfrey put his emotions aside and helped his new team, the Chicago White Sox, beat his old team, the Detroit Tigers.

Pelfrey, who was released by the Tigers near the end of spring training, started Friday's game at Detroit and left after 4 2/3 innings with the game tied. Geovany Soto then had a two-run single in the eighth, helping the White Sox beat the Tigers 7-3 at Comerica Park.

"There's no bitterness," Pelfrey said of facing Detroit. "Those guys were good to me. Obviously, spring training didn't end the way I wanted, but that's on me. I don't think I lived up to my end of the bargain," (see full recap).

Instant Replay: Dodgers 5, Phillies 3

Instant Replay: Dodgers 5, Phillies 3

BOX SCORE

LOS ANGELES — The Phillies' six-game winning streak ended in a 5-3 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday night.

The Dodgers scored four of their runs with two outs.

The Phillies, who play two more times against the Dodgers before heading to Chicago for four against the World Series champion Cubs, are 11-10.

The Dodgers are 12-12.

Starting pitching report
Jerad Eickhoff was not sharp. He gave up nine hits and five runs over 5 2/3 innings. He walked three, struck out three and threw two wild pitches, one of which resulted in a two-out run.

Eickhoff (0-2) had problems with two outs. He allowed seven hits and two walks with two outs.

Dodgers right-hander Kenta Maeda (2-2) was very good. He held the Phils to five hits and two runs over seven innings. He walked one and struck out eight.

Bullpen report
Luis Garcia gave up a two-run double in the sixth. The runs were charged to Eickhoff.

Mark Leiter Jr. pitched a scoreless seventh inning in his big-league debut. His father pitched for the Phillies in 1997 and 1998. The Leiters are the second father-son duo in club history, joining the Amaros.

The Phils scored a run in the eighth against reliever Josh Fields. Luis Avilan came on and put out the fire. Kenley Jansen struck out the side in the ninth and got the save.

At the plate
Freddy Galvis extended his hitting streak to 10 games with a two-run double in the third inning, accounting for the Phillies' first two runs.

Maikel Franco drove in his 21st run with a sacrifice fly in the eighth.

Manager Pete Mackanin moved Galvis to the No. 2 hole. Looking for RBIs, he used Aaron Altherr in the No. 6 spot.

Tommy Joseph went hitless with three strikeouts in four at-bats to drop to .190.

Justin Turner had three hits for the Dodgers, including a two-run double. Kike Hernandez had an RBI double for the Dodgers.

In the field
Galvis made his first error of the season, snapping a 25-game errorless streak that dated to last season.

Rightfielder Michael Saunders cut down a run at the plate to end the fifth inning and keep the Phils within a run.

Up next
Zach Eflin (0-0, 2.25) pitches against Brandon McCarthy (3-0, 2.25) on Saturday night.