Jonathan Pettibone's big-league debut similar to his dad's

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Jonathan Pettibone's big-league debut similar to his dad's

Jay Pettibone, his wife, son and daughter flew all night from California to be in Philadelphia on Monday. The Pettibones expected to be a little tired after a trip on the red eye, but they weren’t expecting to be so cold.

You see, while rushing around to get ready for a last-second trip and making the arrangements with work and school, the family wasn’t prepared for the winter-like evening at Citizens Bank Park. They didn’t pack any winter coats.

Nevertheless, Jay Pettibone warmed up quickly after watching his son Jonathan work 5 1/3 innings against the Pittsburgh Pirates in his major-league debut at Citizens Bank Park on Monday night (see story). In fact, Jonathan Pettibone did pretty well on such short notice. On Saturday, the 22-year-old right-hander from Anaheim, Calif. was in Allentown, Pa. with the Phils’ Triple A club when he got the call to come to Philadelphia.

Pettibone allowed six hits, including a pair of solo homers, and no walks (more on that here) while striking out six in 5 1/3 innings to put the Phillies in position to pull out the 3-2 victory (see Instant Replay) and make the trip that much more exciting for Jay Pettibone and his family.

“Everyone is busy with work and school,” Jay Pettibone said. “My daughter is in high school and my son is in college playing ball, too, and packing everything up within a few hours to get on the road -- we just wanted to be there for him and show him the support. It was something we didn’t want to miss.”

A similar scenario occurred 30 years ago, too. While pitching for the Triple A Toledo Mud Hens, Jay Pettibone was told to hurry to Minnesota to make his big-league debut against the Kansas City Royals.

Jay Pettibone remembered that Sept. 11, 1983, complete-game loss as if it were yesterday. His son remembers hearing the story about that debut over the years, too.

“He always talks about it because he got a CG (complete game), so it went a little better than mine,” Jonathan Pettibone said. “He reminds me from time to time, but it’s all in fun.”

There are some quirky coincidences in the pro baseball careers of Jay and Jonathan Pettibone. Aside from rushing from Triple A to make surprise spot starts, the elder Pettibone remembered working for pitching coach Johnny Podres, who also guided the Phillies’ pitchers when they won the National League in 1993.

Jay passed on the advice he received from Podres back then to Jonathan on Monday afternoon.

“The whole scenario. The quick call and hurry to get there and being told you’re pitching the next day,” Jay Pettibone said. “I just told him to relax and enjoy it just like I was told by Johnny Podres way back when. I tried to do that myself.”

It was the perfect bit of advice.

“Don’t let anything around here get to you,” Jonathan Pettibone said his dad told him. “Just enjoy it and do what you’ve been doing your whole life.”

In Jay Pettibone’s debut, he went up against Danny Jackson, a member of that '93 Phillies team. He made three more starts after the debut and lost them all. When the season ended, Jay Pettibone went back to the minors in 1984, and he played for a young manager in his second season at Double A Orlando named Charlie Manuel.

Three decades later and Jonathan Pettibone made his big-league debut for Charlie Manuel.

What are the odds?

“He was a good guy that the players all liked,” Jay Pettibone remembered. “He just let you go do your thing. As a pitcher, he would let you go out there and go deep into games. The players that were hitters really liked him because right fresh out of baseball and he was very helpful to them.”

Manuel recalled the elder Pettibone’s repertoire.

“I remember he pitched for me,” Manuel said about Jay Pettibone. “Sinker, slider.”

Jonathan Pettibone relied mostly on his fastball and changeup. Of his 83 pitches in 5 1/3 innings, Pettibone threw just eight sliders. Everything else was heat or a changeup, which was the plan. Eventually, Pettibone will have to throw more breaking pitches, but for now it was important to throw strikes and get ahead of hitters.

“That was the game plan,” Jonathan Pettibone said. “I didn’t want to pick around the strike zone. I wanted to be aggressive and get ahead of guys.”

Manuel liked the pitcher's aggressiveness. Though he allowed a double on the second pitch he threw in the game, Pettibone recovered to get out of the inning unscathed. In the second, Pettibone allowed a solo homer to third baseman Pedro Alvarez, but recovered to get a pair of strikeouts.

In his first big-league plate appearance, Pettibone drew a leadoff walk against A.J. Burnett, advanced to second on Jimmy Rollins’ single and moved to third on a groundout by John Mayberry.

When Burnett threw one wild to Chase Utley, Pettibone rushed home with the Phillies’ first run.

Dad might have been a little more nervous about the at-bat and the trip around the bases than the pitching performance.

“Oh boy,” Jay Pettibone said about watching his son dig in at the plate.

Pettibone got three more strikeouts in the third and fourth innings and allowed just one hit. Russell Martin hit a solo homer to lead off the fifth and Clint Barmes followed with a single, but Pettibone got out of the inning with three ground balls.

After Pettibone retired Andrew McCutchen to start the sixth, Manuel went to the bullpen.

Through it all, the first Phillie to be born in the 1990s was poised and stoic on the mound. Yeah, he admitted to having difficulty falling asleep the night before and said he was nervous for the first couple of innings, but once he got going it was just another game.

“That’s normal for him,” Jay Pettibone said. “He stays in control and doesn’t show a lot of emotion. That’s typical for him.”

In the meantime, the Phillies are going to need a fifth starter with John Lannan on the disabled list. Manuel said the Phillies will discuss if Pettibone will get some more work in the big leagues, but if it’s a one-and-done gig, it went pretty well for the kid.

Even his dad thinks so.

“Good job,” Jay Pettibone said when asked what he’ll tell his son after the game. “Way to go out there and throw your strikes and challenge people. That’s the key. Let them put the ball in play and keep the game close and turn it over to the ‘pen like he did and they have a good chance to win it.”

Phillies-Reds 5 things: Aaron Nola looks to build on extremely impressive return from DL

Phillies-Reds 5 things: Aaron Nola looks to build on extremely impressive return from DL

Phillies (16-29) vs. Reds (22-24)
7:05 p.m. on CSN; streaming live on CSNPhilly.com and the NBC Sports App

Following their first win in a week, the Phillies open a new series this weekend against a beatable team in the Cincinnati Reds, who are 3-9 in their last 12 games and 1-7 in their last eight road games.

Let's have ourselves a look-see:

1. Nola's turn
Aaron Nola is on the mound tonight for his second start since a month-long DL stint. He was extremely impressive his last time out, allowing one run on four hits over seven innings in Pittsburgh.

Nola's fastball reached as high as 95.5 mph against the Pirates, which is notable because he threw only two pitches faster than 94 mph all of last season. His velocity was up before the lower back strain and it's a great sign that the elbow injury which ended his 2016 season is truly in the past.

In Pittsburgh, Nola (2-1, 3.52) threw 19 of 27 first-pitch strikes. He got 11 outs on the first three pitches of at-bats. 

He's faced the Reds twice in his career and dominated them both times, allowing two earned runs in 14 innings with one walk and 17 strikeouts.

Current Reds have gone 7 fo 39 (.179) against him with just two extra-base hits. Joey Votto is 0 for 5.

2. What to do with Odubel
Pete Mackanin has an interesting decision to make this weekend with slumping Odubel Herrera, who on Thursday became the first player in the majors this season to go 0 for 5 with five strikeouts in a game.

Herrera is down to .226 on the season with a .275 on-base percentage. In May, he's hit .194 with one walk and 28 strikeouts.

Mackanin could bench Herrera like he did with Maikel Franco for two games earlier this week. It would send a message to the player that poor at-bats and wild swings have consequences. And, quite frankly, sitting Herrera for a day or two might give the Phillies a better chance to win.

The issue, of course, is that there's a thin line between giving a player a chance to clear his head and ridding him of opportunities to get back on track.

Plus, the Phillies don't have great options in replacing Herrera in the lineup. They have a four-man bench at the moment and the only options would be putting Ty Kelly or Brock Stassi in left field and moving Aaron Altherr to center.

Herrera just has not been himself this season and it's troubling. At this point last season, Herrera was hitting .327 with a .901 OPS. He's been an undisciplined hitter in 2017 and when you have two of them in the middle of the lineup in Herrera and Franco, it makes things really easy on pitchers at times.

Herrera started the year hot, hitting in his first eight games. Since then, he's hit .203/.239/.324 in 155 plate appearances with six walks and 42 K's.

3. Tommy time
Tommy Joseph has been one of the very best hitters in baseball this month, batting .329/.400/.671 with six doubles, six homers and 15 RBIs in 22 games.

He's 148 games and 499 plate appearances into his major-league career and has hit .257 with 23 doubles, 28 homers, 69 RBIs and an .804 OPS. That's about 10 points higher than the league average OPS from first basemen over that span.

Had Joseph's April slump continued into May, prospect Rhys Hoskins might have already been called up. But Joseph has done enough so far to hold off Hoskins, who appears to have more upside because of his combination of power and plate selection.

Controlling the strike zone is the next step for Joseph. He has a .311 OBP so far with 33 walks and 112 strikeouts as a Phillie.

But over the last two seasons, he's been one of the few Phils who's taken advantage of this ballpark. Joseph's hit .276 with an .844 OPS at Citizens Bank Park compared to .240 with a .769 OPS on the road.

4. Scouting the Reds
The Phillies face 29-year-old Reds right-hander Tim Adleman (2-2, 6.19).

You look at the ERA and think, OK, maybe the Phillies' bats will wake up tonight. But keep in mind that the Rockies' four starting pitchers this week entered the series with a combined 5.27 ERA and the Phillies scored three runs against them in 27 innings.

There's nothing special about the 6-foot-5 Adleman. He throws his fastball and sinker in the 88 to 91 mph range with a mid-80s changeup and mid-70s curveball. His opponents have hit .300 against his fastball and have eight extra-base hits with a .290 batting average against his changeup.

In six starts this season, Adleman's yet to go deeper than six innings. The Phils faced him last season and scored three runs in five innings. Cesar Hernandez went 2 for 2 with a walk and Franco went 1 for 3 with a double.

As for Cincinnati's offense, Votto is obviously the hitter you worry about most. He's hit .299/.422/.591 this season with 12 doubles, 12 homers, 38 RBIs, 35 walks and 24 strikeouts. A typical Votto season.

Shortstop Zack Cozart has been surprisingly hot these first two months, hitting .340 with 20 extra-base hits, 22 walks and 29 strikeouts. It's most surprising to see him walking this much because he never has. He's 15 walks away from matching his career high.

Leftfielder Adam Duvall has killed the Phillies over the last two seasons. He went 5 for 11 with two doubles and a homer in the season-opening series in Cincy and went 8 for 18 with four doubles against them last season.

5. This and that
• Over the last seven games, the Phillies' bullpen has allowed just two earned runs in 22⅔ innings.

• Howie Kendrick started at third base for Lehigh Valley during his rehab assignment Thursday. He was hit by two pitches and removed from the game.  

• Reds closer Raisel Iglesias is one of the most underrated relievers in baseball. He's 8 for 8 in save chances this season with a 0.73 ERA and 1.01 WHIP. He's struck out 28 and allowed just one home run in 24⅔ innings. His ability to go multiple innings is what makes him stand out — he's Andrew Miller-like in that regard. Iglesias has pitched more than one inning in 7 of his 19 appearances.

Phillies prospect J.P. Crawford learning to fight through failure

Phillies prospect J.P. Crawford learning to fight through failure

ALLENTOWN, Pa. — Plastered on a wall outside the press box in Coca-Cola Park is a sign — "Pigs to the Bigs" — surrounded by dozens of stars.

Each has upon it the name of a player who has made the leap from the Triple A Lehigh Valley IronPigs to the parent Phillies since Lehigh Valley began operations in 2008 — everyone from outfielder Chris Snelling (April 30, 2008) to pitcher Nick Pivetta (April 29, 2017), the latter of whom has since returned to the IronPigs.

It is a study in the star-crossed, of guys who bounced up and down (Pete Orr, July 8, 2011), guys who flamed out (Domonic Brown, July 28, 2010), guys whose fate is yet to be determined (Maikel Franco, Sept. 3, 2014).

The point being that the path to major-league stardom seldom follows a straight line.

That has been demonstrated once again by the Phillies' top prospect, shortstop J.P. Crawford, who spent weeks in bounce-back mode earlier this season.

And now finds himself there again.

His 0-for-4 night in Thursday's 8-4 loss to Indianapolis left him hitless in his last 16 at-bats, his slash line for the season at .175/.291/.221.

Recall that Crawford, the 16th overall pick in the 2013 draft, had exactly four hits in 48 at-bats over his first 14 games of the season, an average of .083.

Never before had the 22-year-old experienced anything like it, and he took a methodical approach to remedying the problem. He did some video work. He tinkered with his stance. He consulted with hitting coach Sal Rende and roving minor-league hitting instructor Andy Tracy. And slowly but surely, he began coming around.

The thinking at that point was that his slump might serve as a valuable lesson, a blessing in disguise.

As Crawford put it hours before Thursday's first pitch, "I'd rather struggle here than if I ever make it to the big leagues, God willing. I'd much rather have it [happen] down here than up there."

Though it will happen there, too. Baseball, everyone always says, is a game of failure. It's just a matter of how each player deals with it, works through it, minimizes it.

Lehigh Valley manager Dusty Wathan has said repeatedly that he was impressed by Crawford's approach to his scuffling start, that he thought the youngster treated it as "a growing opportunity" that can only help him down the line.

It was all Wathan could have hoped for, for Crawford or anybody else.

"I think it's a good thing to be able to have some experience to look back on, later on," he said. "Now, when they're going through it they probably don't think of it that way, but those of us who have been around baseball and been in situations like that personally, too, know that it's going to get better."

Wathan, seated at his office desk in a T-shirt and shorts before Thursday's game, has been around the block. He previously managed Crawford at Double A Reading, and believes those 14 games in April represent a blip.

"We know that J.P.'s a great player," Wathan said. "I think [such struggles] can actually end up being a good thing for these guys."

If Crawford, a native Californian, had few previous failures to draw upon — "He hasn't really had any," Wathan said — he at least had a ready roster of big-time athletes in his family with whom he could commiserate. His dad, Larry, was a CFL defensive back from 1981-89. His cousin, Carl, was a major-league outfielder for 15 years, ending last season. His older sister, Eliza, played softball at Cal State-Fullerton.

Certainly it appears they have kept him grounded, because he is singularly unimpressed by his draft status or ranking with various scouting services.

"I [couldn't] care less about that," he said. "All that doesn't really matter. Once you get on the field, everyone's the same. Everyone's the same player."

Though he was somewhat less than that early on. He was admittedly frustrated, but far from defeated.

"You've got to stay on the positive [side] on everything," he said. "You can't get too down on yourself, or else you're just going to do worse."

Had it been a major-league situation instead of a player-development situation, it is entirely possible that Wathan would have held him out of the lineup a day or two, just to let him clear his head.

"Or maybe not, because he contributes every night, somehow," the manager said.

And as Crawford said, "You're not going to get better sitting. You've got to go out there and play."

He admitted earlier this month that while he had once been reluctant about video study, he found great benefit in it when he was looking for answers in late April.

He decided to raise his hands while at the plate, and the hits began to come. He batted at a .253 clip over 24 games, including a six-game hitting streak, bringing his average to a season-best .196 on May 20.

Now it's back to the drawing board. It is, after all, a game of failure. It's just a matter of dealing with it, working through it, minimizing it.

He has become well-acquainted with the concept.