Kendrick pounded by Giants after whirlwind day

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Kendrick pounded by Giants after whirlwind day

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Kyle Kendrick didn’t get much sleep on Tuesday night and it showed with his performance on the mound on Wednesday night at Citizens Bank Park.

Kendrick was roughed up for seven runs on eight hits, a walk and a hit batsman in just two innings during the Phillies’ 9-2 loss to the Giants (see Instant Replay). The right-hander didn’t strike out any hitters and left some pitches right there for the Giants to take some big healthy swings.

They didn’t miss.

Kendrick had just six two-strike counts on the 16 hitters he faced and four of those guys ended up getting on base.

“He was having a tough time. It just wasn’t his night,” manager Charlie Manuel said. “He had one of those nights where everything they hit fell and went through. It’s just one of those things.”

Perhaps the cause for Kendrick’s sluggishness on the mound on Wednesday night was the fact that he and his wife Stephanie celebrated the birth of Kyle Kendrick Jr. on Tuesday at around 4:28 p.m. So after a whirlwind day, Kendrick didn’t take paternity leave. With Cliff Lee still day-to-day with a strained neck and the bullpen looking for help any way they can get it, Kendrick bit the bullet and took the mound.

Things went south in a hurry.

The Giants sent eight hitters to the plate in the first inning and had four runs on the board before the Phillies even came off the field for the first time. It could have been worse if recent call-up Cody Asche hadn’t made a Brooks Robinson-esque catch and throw to rob Hunter Pence of a hit and an RBI.

Kendrick’s reprieve was short-lived. Though he faced three batters in the second inning, he wasn’t able to get an out in the third inning when the Giants got three singles, an error and a fastball in the back to plate three more runs.

Just like that, Kendrick’s night was over.

“I’m not going to make any excuses,” Kendrick said. “I wouldn’t change that for the world. It was awesome. I just have to make better pitches. That’s what it comes down to.”

New addition or not, Kendrick didn’t look too sharp in his outings leading up to Wednesday’s debacle. He gave up 37 hits and 22 earned runs in 25 2/3 innings for a 7.71 ERA in July. Though he won twice in the month, Kendrick got one of those wins thanks to 13 runs of support.

Meanwhile, Kendrick’s month-by-month ledger has shown his performances get worse after each month. In April, the veteran righty went 2-1 with a 2.41 ERA, followed by a 3-2 May in which he posted a 4.03 ERA and made it through six innings in five of six starts.

Kendrick opened June with a complete game, but took a no-decision in an 8-7 win in Washington where he allowed seven runs in 4 1/3 innings. Still, Kendrick was able to pitch at least six innings in five of his six starts in June for a 4.17 ERA.

After showing consistency at the end of the 2012 season as well as the start of this season, Kendrick is hoping to figure out the cause of this latest setback before he takes the mound again in five days.

“I think the last four or five starts I’ve been leaving things up,” Kendrick said. “I feel like I’m having one bad inning and I’m not minimizing the damage. I’ve been in tough ruts before, but I just have to keep making pitches. Today I had no command, the ball was up and when you’re like that, most pitchers end up getting hurt.”

Unlike the 13-8 win over the Mets, Kendrick didn’t get much help from his hitters. Chase Utley hit one just over the railing in right for a homer in the first inning, and picked up another RBI on a groundout in the eighth. Otherwise, that was about all the offense the Phillies could muster against Giants’ starter Chad Gaudin.

The Phillies had just five hits -- four off Gaudin in seven innings -- and went 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position.

Meanwhile, the loss was the Phillies’ ninth in the last 10 games. At 50-57, the Phillies are a healthy 12½ games behind the Braves in the NL East and just a game ahead of the Mets for third place.

Are the Phillies about to be passed in the standings by the Mets?

To avoid something like that from happening, the Phillies will send Cole Hamels (4-13, 4.09) to the mound in the series finale. Matt Cain (6-6, 4.79) will pitch for the Giants.

When the Giants leave town, the Braves arrive for a three-game series this weekend threatening to destroy the Phillies’ very slim hopes at making a run for a playoff spot.

Blue Jays 10, Phillies 4: Aaron Nola hit hard in final Grapefruit start

Blue Jays 10, Phillies 4: Aaron Nola hit hard in final Grapefruit start

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The Phillies got the good health they were looking for from Aaron Nola this spring.

But the overall results weren't so good.

Nola struggled in his sixth and final Grapefruit League start Tuesday night. He was roughed up for seven hits, including two home runs, and five runs and did not make it out of the second inning in the Phillies' 10-4 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays.

Nola finished the Grapefruit League portion of his spring with an ERA of 8.38 after giving up 18 earned runs in 19 1/3 innings. He gave up 28 hits, walked seven and struck out 23.

"People say it's spring training but nobody wants to go out there and give up runs," Nola said.

While he wasn't happy with the numbers he put up in camp, Nola was pleased with his health. He missed the final two months of last season with an elbow strain. He said that is completely behind him.

"I feel good," he said. "The ball is coming out of my hand really good.

"Tonight was the best I've felt all spring. I just left some balls up and they took some good swings. It was a tough night."

Manager Pete Mackanin weighed in on Nola's spring.

"One thing I like is that his velocity is way up," Mackanin said. "I think his arm is healthy and that's good to see more than anything.

"He hasn't shown the command that makes him a good pitcher, but I think that will get there."

Nola gave up home runs to Troy Tulowitzki and Melvin Upton Jr.

Nola lines up to pitch the fifth game of the regular season a week from Saturday in Philadelphia.

He only threw 51 pitches Tuesday night so he has room for a good bullpen session and another start before that outing. The start will come at the minor-league complex on Sunday. He will then join the team in Cincinnati for Monday's season opener.

Murray injured
Reliever Colton Murray ran his scoreless string to 10 1/3 innings before allowing a two-run homer in his third inning of work. Murray left the game with what looked like a lower back injury. He fell to the ground in pain after throwing a pitch. Earlier in the day, Murray was told that he would open the season in Triple A.

Minor matters 
Infielder Cole Stobbe, 19, the Phillies' third-round pick in last year's draft, and 18-year-old righty Sixto Sanchez were named winners of the Bill Giles and Larry Rojas awards for their standout work in minor-league camp. Both are among the organization's most highly touted young prospects.

Up next
The Phillies will split the squad and play two games on Wednesday. One team will go to Lakeland to play the Tigers. The other will go to Bradenton to face the Pirates.

The battle for one of the final spots in the bullpen will take center stage as Luis Garcia starts in Lakeland and Joely Rodriguez in Bradenton.

Brock Stassi appears headed for big leagues as Phillies' roster comes into focus

Brock Stassi appears headed for big leagues as Phillies' roster comes into focus

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Busy, busy day of roster moves in Phillies camp.

Let's try to put it all in perspective.

First, the facts:

Veteran infielder/outfielder Chris Coghlan was released from his minor-league contract.

Right-handed pitcher Alec Asher was traded to the Baltimore Orioles for a player to be named later or cash.

Infielder Pedro Florimon and relief pitchers Cesar Ramos, Hoby Milner, Pat Venditte and Colton Murray were all informed that they will not make the opening-day roster, but they remain in big-league camp as non-roster invitees.

OK, what does it all mean?

Let's start on the position-player side. The starting eight is set, but there are still openings to fill on the bench before the team's charter flight lifts off from Tampa International Airport early Friday evening.

Barring something unforeseen, infielder Andres Blanco, outfielder Aaron Altherr and catcher Andrew Knapp will all make the 25-man roster. That leaves two openings on the bench.

Coghlan, a former National League Rookie of the Year and member of last year's World Series-winning Chicago Cubs team, asked for his release after the club raised the possibility of him signing an advance consent form. Advanced consent gives a team more control of a player and also allows a team to release a player with no further financial commitment up to 45 days into the season. Coghlan decided to move on, as was his contractual right, and is expected to land with another club.

Coghlan's departure reduced the field of candidates for the two bench jobs to three -- Brock Stassi, Daniel Nava and Jesmuel Valentin.

All signs point to lefty-hitting first baseman/outfielder Brock Stassi being rewarded for his excellent spring with a spot on the roster. The 27-year-old from the Sacramento area, the team's 33rd-round draft pick in 2011, has never played in the majors.

With Stassi looking good, the final spot on the bench is down to Nava and Valentin. They are two very different players. Nava is 34 and has five years of big-league service time. He is in camp on a minor-league deal, essentially looking to keep his career alive. Valentin, on the other hand, is 22 and very much a prospect. The team must decide if it wants to go with the veteran outfielder or the young second baseman for the final spot on the bench.

"With the way Stassi, Nava and Valentin are playing right now, one way or another we're going to be making tough decisions on the bench," general manager Matt Klentak said.

With Asher off the 40-man roster, the Phillies have the space to add Stassi.

They would need to create one more spot, probably by waiving a player, if they want to keep Nava.

Valentin is already on the 40-man roster so the team would not have to lose a player to keep him, but doing that would cost the young player the development opportunity that would come with regular at-bats in Triple A.

"I'm not opposed to starting that way if he wins the job and that's how we open," Klentak said of Valentin. "If we concluded after a few weeks that playing time just isn't there and we need to send him back down and get somebody else up, we can do that. That's the beauty of roster flexibility and having players on the big-league club with options. We can make those decisions in real time throughout the year."

So let's move on to the bullpen.

Five spots are set with Jeanmar Gomez, Hector Neris, Edubray Ramos, Joaquin Benoit and Pat Neshek.

It's likely that the team will go with seven relievers. That means there are two open spots with three candidates -- Adam Morgan, Joely Rodriguez and Luis Garica -- still standing. All three are on the 40-man roster, so that makes the personnel mechanics a little easier. 

The team probably needs a long reliever and Morgan profiles as that guy.

Rodriguez and Garcia are both scheduled to pitch in separate games on Wednesday, so their performances will be worth watching, though Klentak said not all roster decisions are based on spring performance. 

Garcia has had a number of chances in the majors the last four seasons. He has recently added a splitter and team officials are intrigued by that, so he has remained in the mix.

There is a slim chance the team could carry all three of these relievers and go with an eight-man bullpen and a short bench, but that would be tough to do in the National League. When the decisions are made, look for a five-man bench and a seven-man bullpen.

But, remember, things can change quickly on a 25-man roster once the season begins. Ender Inciarte was on the Phillies' opening-day roster in 2013 and gone a day later. Cedric Hunter was there last year and gone two weeks later.

"We have to make sure we're disciplined to the notion that the end of spring training is not a finish line," Klentak said. "The end of spring training is the starting line for a long major-league season. Whatever we can do to preserve as many assets and players and different possibilities as we can, we need to factor that in as we're making out our opening-day roster."