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.

Phillies promote outfielder Andrew Pullin to Triple A after strong run with Reading

Phillies promote outfielder Andrew Pullin to Triple A after strong run with Reading

Cameron Perkins' call-up to the majors opened up an outfield spot at Triple A Lehigh Valley and Andrew Pullin was the beneficiary, earning a promotion Thursday.

Pullin's success at Double A Reading has been somewhat overshadowed by Scott Kingery's eye-popping first three months but Pullin has nearly kept pace with the second baseman all season. In 67 games with Reading, the 23-year-old Pullin hit .308/.368/.556 with 22 doubles, 14 home runs and 46 RBIs.

The left-handed hitting Pullin has been locked in for the better part of the last two years. He hit .322 with an .885 OPS last season, splitting time between Clearwater and Reading.

Pullin is not on the 40-man roster and in December was exposed in the Rule 5 draft. For whatever reason, he went unclaimed. It's difficult to imagine that happening again this winter if he's not protected on the 40.

As for Kingery, expect his promotion to come soon. Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said last week that the next challenge for Kingery is looming. Don't be surprised if that promotion from Double A to Triple A occurs Monday when the IronPigs return to Lehigh Valley. With Reading home this weekend, it would be just a short trip for Kingery.

Today's lineup: Odubel Herrera batting 3rd as Aaron Altherr gets day off

Today's lineup: Odubel Herrera batting 3rd as Aaron Altherr gets day off

Odubel Herrera made a costly mistake in the Phillies' 10th-inning, 7-6 loss to the Cardinals Wednesday night.

With the game tied in the bottom of ninth, Herrera ran through a stop sign from third base coach Juan Samuel and was subsequently thrown out at home by a mile, thus putting an end to the inning. When the Phils came out onto the field for the top of the 10th inning, Herrera was taken out of the game via a double-switch. 

Herrera won't have to wait long to have a chance to redeem himself as he was moved from sixth to third in the Phils' lineup Thursday, with the team looking to avoid having a series swept from them for a second consecutive time. Aaron Altherr, who had been mostly manning the No. 3 spot in the order, was given the day off. Howie Kendrick, who paces the Phillies with a .350 batting average, was also left out of the lineup in favor of Andrés Blanco.

Cameron Perkins, who made his first major league start in the leadoff spot last night, will bat first again after collecting a pair of hits.

Carlos Martinez will take the mound for the Cardinals looking to deliver the Phillies their 14th loss in the last 15 games. Martinez (6-5, 2.86 ERA) tossed a complete-game shutout against the Phils on June 10, surrendering just four hits while striking out 11 in a 7-0 St. Louis win.

Opposite Martinez will be Aaron Nola (3-5, 4.76 ERA), who tossed five innings of three-run ball in his only start against the Cardinals this season on June 10. Nola has been tagged with a loss in five of his last six outings. 

Here is today's full lineup:

1. Cameron Perkins, RF
2. Freddy Galvis, SS
3. Odubel Herrera, CF
4. Maikel Franco, 3B
5. Daniel Nava, LF
6. Tommy Joseph, 1B
7. Andrés Blanco, 2B
8. Cameron Rupp, C
9. Aaron Nola, P