With J.P. Crawford looming at SS, Freddy Galvis gets look in outfield

With J.P. Crawford looming at SS, Freddy Galvis gets look in outfield

Back in early July, Freddy Galvis and his wife, Ana, welcomed their second daughter into the world. Little Nicole arrived at 5 o'clock in the morning. Her dad eschewed his right to take paternity leave and was at shortstop for the Phillies that night. Hit a home run, in fact.

In explaining his decision to come to work that day to manager Pete Mackanin, Galvis said everything was good at home and he wanted to come to work because he had a responsibility to his team and a personal goal to play in all 162 of the Phillies’ games.

In relaying that story, Mackanin praised Galvis' leadership and character and said he would do everything in his power to see that Galvis' goal of answering the bell for 162 games became a reality.

Recently, however, Galvis' desire to play all 162 games has caused Mackanin a little handwringing. Highly touted shortstop prospect J.P. Crawford is due to come up from the minors for a September look on Tuesday and it makes sense that the Phillies’ front office would like to see him some at shortstop, in addition to third base, a position he recently started learning.

But where does that leave Galvis and his bid to play 162?

Mackanin answered that question when he filled out the lineup card for the second game of Wednesday's doubleheader against Atlanta.

Galvis was in center field (see Game 2 observations).

It was a startling move not only because Galvis had never played the position (other than a brief look in spring training 2013), but also because he was a Gold Glove finalist at shortstop last season and will be in the running for the award this season.

Clearly, Mackanin — and the front office — are trying to rig a way where Galvis can achieve his goal and play 162 games while getting an occasional look at Crawford at shortstop.

"Well, it might," Mackanin said when asked if playing Galvis in the outfield had anything to do with Crawford.

"Actually, I didn't tell Freddy he would play every day at short. He asked me if he could play every day. I said yes. Now, if I said that, that wasn't my intent. I told him that I was going to try and get him to play every day."

Galvis played 10 games in left field in 2013. He met with Mackanin and GM Matt Klentak about the matter on Tuesday and said all the right things after playing center field on Wednesday.

"I think it's good," he said. "I just want to help the team win. And I’m going to try to do my best every single time. It doesn’t matter where they put me, I’m going to play hard and try to win that day.

"I think September is a time where they see a lot of new players, a lot of young players. That was the conversation. Try to be available to do that and that’s why I’m playing center field a little bit right now. But I’m good, man. Like I said, I just want to win. I just want to have the best team here in Philadelphia. I’m just trying to do something good."

Moving players around in order to get them big-league reps has been commonplace with the Phillies this season. Rhys Hoskins, a natural first baseman, has been playing left field so he can get at-bats. Crawford is learning to play third base in preparation for his ascension.

Mackanin said there would be more of it. He said second baseman Cesar Hernandez could get time at shortstop over the final month of the season and third baseman Maikel Franco could get time at first. While moving Galvis around a little bit in order to evaluate Crawford makes some sense, moving Hernandez and Franco to positions where the Phils already have players that need reps — Hoskins and Tommy Joseph at first and Galvis and Crawford at shortstop — makes little sense. Talking about those as potential moves might just be subterfuge to deflect attention away from how the Galvis-Crawford situation will play out.

However it plays out, Galvis is not expected to play a ton of center field. After all, Odubel Herrera is due to come off the disabled list Friday.

Galvis, to his credit, continued to defuse a potentially combustible matter.

"Let's let Pete decide what we're going to do," he said.

Galvis will be eligible for salary arbitration for the final time this winter. He will be eligible for free agency after next season. He could be shopped for a trade this winter if the Phillies believe Crawford is ready to take over the position in April. Or he could hang around for a while.

Asked about his future, Galvis said, "I don't know. I'm not God. I will take it day by day and see what happens."

All we know right now is there is a plan in place for him to reach his goal and play in 162 games. It just involves an occasional detour to the outfield.

Henderson Alvarez solid as audition with Phillies continues in loss to Braves

Henderson Alvarez solid as audition with Phillies continues in loss to Braves

BOX SCORE

ATLANTA — It had been three years to the day since Henderson Alvarez had notched a pitching victory in the major leagues. Back on Sept. 23, 2014, while pitching for the Miami Marlins in a season in which he made the National League All-Star team, he beat the Phillies with 7 2/3 shutout innings.
 
A shoulder injury limited Alvarez to just four starts the next season. He did not pitch in 2016 and was forced to show his wares in the Independent Atlantic League before latching on with the Phillies in late August.
 
The Phils were looking for some pitching depth to get through the season, but Alvarez didn't care about the reason. He was happy for the audition in Triple A and the call to the majors this month.
 
Alvarez's long road back from surgery put him on the mound at SunTrust Park, the new home of the Atlanta Braves, on Saturday night, exactly three years after his last big-league win. It would have been pretty sweet for the 27-year-old right-hander to come out of the assignment with a win — and he was in line to get it before the bullpen let a late lead get away in a 4-2 loss to the Braves (see observations).
 
"It is what it is," Alvarez said, shrugging after the game. "That's the way baseball is sometimes. You have to make every single out. There are things you cannot control. You just go out there and try your best."
 
Alvarez pitched five shutout innings and left with a 2-0 lead thanks to an RBI double by Rhys Hoskins and another run that scored on a passed ball.
 
"He pitched through five innings, got through it and didn't give up a run," manager Pete Mackanin said. "His ball had some movement and he changed speeds."
 
The bullpen could not hold the lead. Newcomer Kevin Siegrist gave up a solo homer to Rio Ruiz in the sixth inning on a 1-2 breaking ball that registered 69 mph on the radar gun. Two innings later, Luis Garcia was tagged for three runs as the Braves tied the game and took the lead.
 
Up and down the roster, the Phillies are in audition mode. Siegrist, a waiver claim from St. Louis, is looking to stick with the club as a lefty out of the bullpen. Ditto for Adam Morgan, who has been sensational over the last couple of months. He racked up another scoreless inning in this game and has allowed just two runs in his last 23 innings, dating to Aug. 2. Garcia has been auditioning toward the back of the bullpen and performed well. He had not allowed an earned run in his last 12 1/3 innings before this outing.
 
Garcia allowed three hits and three runs. Dansby Swanson singled home the tying run after Garcia fell behind in the count and had to pump fastballs with a man on second, and pinch-hitter Johan Camargo broke the tie with a two-out, two-run double to right-center.
 
"When you're pitching in a clutch situation, you can't fall behind hitters," Mackanin said. "You’ve got to get ahead. I think he threw five consecutive fastballs to Swanson. He tried to get a strike and couldn't do it. And you have to do it to be successful. You cannot get behind the hitters.
 
"It all comes down to getting clutch hits, making clutch plays and making clutch pitches. We're looking to win a World Series. You've got to be clutch."
 
The Phillies could have used a clutch hit or two to pad their early lead. In one big situation, they had the bases loaded against Braves starter Julio Teheran with two outs in the seventh and Odubel Herrera grounded out to second base on Teheran's last pitch of the night.
 
Herrera is hitless in the first two games of the series after hitting in each of the first 13 games (at a .434 clip) between the two teams this season.
 
It's not clear where Alvarez fits into the Phillies' future — or even if he does. He could make one more start over the final week of the season or he could finish in the bullpen. It does not seem likely the Phillies would keep him on the 40-man roster all winter, but it's not difficult to envision the club trying to bring him back on a minor-league deal where he could provide organizational depth and continue to get stronger post-surgery. Several teams will probably have interest in doing that.
 
Whatever happens, Alvarez had to feel good about his work Saturday night. Though he did not get his win, it was a step in the right direction on the comeback trail.
 
"It's been a roller-coaster," he said. "I just have to keep working hard."

Best of MLB: Bruce Maxwell 1st player to kneel during anthem; Yanks clinch playoff berth

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Associated Press

Best of MLB: Bruce Maxwell 1st player to kneel during anthem; Yanks clinch playoff berth

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Bruce Maxwell of the Oakland Athletics has become the first major league baseball player to kneel during the national anthem.

Maxwell dropped to a knee just outside Oakland's dugout on Saturday before a game against the Texas Rangers, adopting a protest started by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in response to police treatment of blacks. Maxwell's teammates stood in a line next to him. Teammate Mark Canha, who is white, put his right hand on one of Maxwell's shoulders.

The Athletics released a statement on Twitter shortly after the anthem, saying they "respect and support all of our players' constitutional rights and freedom of expression" and "pride ourselves on being inclusive."

Major League Baseball also issued a statement, saying it has "a longstanding tradition of honoring our nation prior to the start of our games" but that "we also respect that each of our players is an individual with his own background, perspectives and opinions (See full story).

Yankees clinch postseason berth by beating Blue Jays 
TORONTO -- One year into a rebuild, the New York Yankees are back in the playoffs.

Greg Bird, among the new generation of Baby Bombers, hit a three-run homer that led New York over the Toronto Blue Jays 5-1 on Saturday to clinch no worse than a wild card.

"I feel like our motto in the offseason was: `We're going to surprise people,'" Bird said. "Obviously, we had a good spring, but we knew that wasn't the real deal. We came out and played our game the whole year, and I feel like we showed people."

Sonny Gray (10-11), among New York's midseason reinforcements, allowed one run and four hits in six innings as the Yankees won for the 11th time in 14 games and at 86-68 matched their season high of 18 games over .500.

"I didn't know exactly what we were going to be this year, but when I saw the way these kids were playing in spring training and the depth of our talent, it got me really excited and I thought it was possible," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.

Chase Headley reached base three times to help the Yankees reach the postseason for the 53rd time in franchise history. The Los Angeles Dodgers are second with 31. 

Lindor's 33rd homer leads Indians over Mariners 
SEATTLE -- Now that he's set a Cleveland record for home runs by a middle infielder, Francisco Lindor would rather remember 2017 for a far bigger accomplishment.

Lindor led off the game with his 33rd home run, and the Indians routed the Seattle Mariners 11-4 Saturday for their 28th victory in 30 games.

"It's cool. Something that'll be there for a long time," Lindor said, "but I'm just focusing on trying to win. When you focus on winning, those things happen."

Carlos Carrasco (17-6) matched teammate Cory Kluber and Boston's Chris Sale for the most wins in the AL, allowing one run and six hits in 5 2/3 innings. Yan Gomes homered twice and had four RBIs, and Jose Ramirez homered and drove in four runs.

Cleveland, which set the AL record with a 22-game winning streak this month, matched the 1884 Providence Grays for the best big league record over a 30-game span at 28-2. The Indians (97-58) lead Houston (95-59) for AL home-field advantage in the playoffs.

Lindor, a 23-year-old shortstop, homered on the eighth pitch from Andrew Moore (1-5) and surpassed the 32 home runs hit by second baseman Joe Gordon in 1948, the last year Cleveland won the World Series. 

Red Sox move closer to AL East title with 5-0 win over Reds
CINCINNATI --  The Red Sox took another step toward a division title, putting up another shutout that ended with a feel-good moment for their manager.

Mitch Moreland ended his long slump with a three-run homer, Eduardo Rodriguez pitched three-hit ball into the eighth inning, and Boston beat the Cincinnati Reds 5-0 on Saturday.

Boston has won 13 of 16, holding a four-game lead over the Yankees with eight to play. The Red Sox are trying to win back-to-back AL East titles for the first time since divisional realignment in 1969. They've got their best record of the season at 90-64, reaching 90 wins for the second year in a row.

It ended with a ninth inning that was unlike anything manager John Farrell has experienced. His son, Luke, relieved for the Reds, giving them a special moment in a competitive situation.

"It was somewhat surreal," he said. "Very proud. You're standing there looking through a netting in the dugout and you think you're maybe watching him throw back in Little League, in high school. To see it happen on a major league mound - a special day, a special inning."

The reliever walked two in a scoreless inning and glanced back at the Boston dugout, momentarily removing his cap, as he headed for the Reds dugout.