Kendrick pounded by Giants after whirlwind day

073113kylekendrickap.jpg

Kendrick pounded by Giants after whirlwind day

BOX SCORE

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.

Versatile Brock Stassi making his pitch to win a spot on the Phillies’ roster

Versatile Brock Stassi making his pitch to win a spot on the Phillies’ roster

TAMPA -- When Phillies camp opened earlier this month, Brock Stassi was considering mentioning his ability to play the outfield to manager Pete Mackanin.

Though he’s played mostly first base during his six seasons in the Phillies' system, Stassi has been used occasionally in left field. He’s also played the position in winter ball in Latin America. Even going back to high school, Stassi played center field.

As it turned out, Stassi didn’t need to have that conversation with Mackanin. The manager actually approached the player early in camp and told him he planned to get him some time in the outfield as well as at first base.

Mackanin and the Phillies' front office value versatility and they want to have it on their bench. Stassi has come to his second big-league camp as a serious candidate to win a job on the bench. His left-handed bat -- which he showed off with a solo homer in Friday’s 9-4 Grapefruit League loss to the Yankees -- would be attractive to the Phils. So would his versatility.

And if the ability to play first base and outfield isn’t enough versatility, Stassi can actually offer something else.

He can pitch.

In fact, the Cleveland Indians drafted him as a pitcher after his junior year at the University of Nevada in 2010.

Stassi returned to school for his senior year in 2011 and was a two-way player. The Phillies selected him in the 33rd round of the draft that year as a hitter, even though on draft day there was some confusion.

“Initially, I was announced as a left-handed pitcher then they changed it to outfielder,” Stassi said. “Then I got to Williamsport (the Phillies’ New York-Penn League team) and had a first baseman’s mitt in my bag, and I was like, ‘All right, let’s go. You’re going to be playing first.’”

Stassi’s minor-league managers in the Phillies' system have always been aware of his pitching background. He has made nine pitching appearances during his time in pro ball, including four with Triple A Lehigh Valley last year. All were in relief in long extra-innings games.

“I got a win and a loss,” Stassi said.

He recalled the loss with a big laugh.

“I shook off Logan,” he said, referring to catcher Logan Moore, another candidate pushing for a spot on the Phillies’ bench. “I shook to the fastball against a lefty. It wasn’t the right move and Logan won’t let me forget that. The guy hit a triple. Then I got hit with a comeback one-hopper right on the butt. It was like a 14-inning game.”

Stassi throws a fastball, curveball and changeup.

“My fastball is like 84,” he said with a laugh.

Many position players in a big-league clubhouse were pitchers at some point in the baseball journey. Roman Quinn, who broke into pro ball as a shortstop and is now a centerfielder, was used as a closer in high school and hit 94 mph on the radar gun.

“I believe it,” Stassi said. “That guy’s got a cannon. I had to catch him when he was playing shortstop. He’d come charging in on a close play and he’d let one loose and I was like, ‘Oh, my God.’ And even from the outfield he’s got a cannon.”

Stassi’s arm doesn’t bounce back the way it used to when he pitched in college.

“Every time I have to pitch now I’m hanging for like two weeks,” he said.

But that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t grab the baseball and gut out an inning if Mackanin ever needed it.

“Hey, if that’s what it takes,” he said.

Figuring out the Phillies’ bench at this point of camp is a little like solving a Rubik’s Cube. There are many possible combinations. Infielder Andres Blanco is a sure thing and outfielder Aaron Altherr seems like a good bet. So does outfielder Chris Coghlan.

Andrew Knapp, Ryan Hanigan, Bryan Holaday and Moore are the candidates for backup catcher. Knapp can also play first base. And it’s not out of the question that the Phils would carry three catchers.

They could fill the perceived final spot on the bench with an infielder such as Pedro Florimon or another outfielder such as Daniel Nava, Andrew Pullin or Cameron Perkins. Or it could be Stassi, whose versatility is a plus.

“There’s a lot I like about Stassi,” Mackanin said.

Stassi comes from a baseball family. His brother, Max, is a catcher with the Houston Astros. They played for their dad, Jim, at Yuba City High School near Sacramento, California. Jim was a catcher who reached Triple A during his playing days in the Giants system.

“My dad always talked about the value of versatility in high school,” Brock said. “He preached it to the whole team. You might have two second basemen and they’re pretty equal, but you want both bats in the lineup so you might have to play outfield. It’s good to be able to do it. Don’t take it as a knock that you’re not at your normal position -- you’re in the lineup.”

In addition to wearing several different gloves, Stassi can swing the bat. He was Eastern League MVP in 2015 when he hit .300 with 15 homers, 90 RBIs and a .863 OPS for Double A Reading. He hit .267 with 12 homers, 58 RBIs and a .806 OPS at Triple A Lehigh Valley last season.

Stassi has been described as “a grinder” by members of the Phillies’ player-development staff, and that’s a compliment. More than one thousand players were selected ahead of him in the 2011 draft. His signing bonus was just $1,000. He’s never appeared on one of those Top 10 prospect lists and never been on a 40-man roster, never mind appeared in a big-league game. But he’s continually moved up the ladder and now, at age 27, is under serious consideration to win a spot on the Phillies’ bench.

And maybe -- if needed in a pinch -- in the bullpen, too.

“Oh, man, it would be a dream come true,” Stassi said. “Ever since I was a kid I dreamed of playing in the big leagues. Just the path that I’ve taken -- I've had to earn everything, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. It would be really awesome to make this team.”

Yankees 9, Phillies 4: Cameron Perkins comes out swinging

Yankees 9, Phillies 4: Cameron Perkins comes out swinging

TAMPA -- The Phillies’ bats were slow getting started in the Grapefruit League opener Friday afternoon. The Phils did not have a baserunner through the first six innings in a 9-4 loss to the New York Yankees at Steinbrenner Field.

“First game, I’m just happy we got at-bats because the pitching is always ahead of the hitting this early,” Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said afterward.

Outfielder Cameron Perkins had the Phillies’ first hit, a single up the middle in the seventh inning. He added a solo homer in the ninth inning.

Perkins, 26, was the Phillies’ sixth-round pick in the 2012 draft out of Purdue University. He graduated from Southport High School in Indianapolis, the same school that produced Phillies great and Hall of Famer Chuck Klein.

A right-hander hitter who eschews batting gloves, Perkins hit .292 with eight homers and 47 RBIs at Triple A Lehigh Valley last season. He is not on the 40-man roster but was invited to camp for a look-see. He is considered a longshot to win a spot on the Phillies’ bench, but will certainly improve his chances if he keeps swinging it like he did Friday.

“I don’t think about it,” Perkins said of his bid to make the club. “All I can do is what I did today -- get my opportunity and make the most of it.”

Brock Stassi, another candidate for a job on the Phillies’ bench, also homered.

On the pitching side
Right-hander Alec Asher, who projects to open in the Triple A rotation, started for the Phils. He pitched two innings, allowed a home run to Didi Gregorius and struck out two.

Asher made big strides with his sinker last season. He’s added a cutter now.

Right-hander Nick Pivetta debuted with two scoreless innings. He gave up a hit, walked one and struck out three. The Phillies acquired Pivetta from Washington from Jonathan Papelbon in July 2015. He projects to open in the Triple A rotation, but first will pitch for Team Canada in the WBC in March.

“It’s a lifelong dream for me, right up there with whenever it is that I get my first start with the Phillies,” Pivetta said.

The bullpen
Mackanin has said he’d like to have two left-handed relievers in his bullpen. The Phillies have just one -- Joely Rodriguez -- on their 40-man roster, although it’s possible that Adam Morgan could be shifted from starter to reliever later in camp.

The Phils have brought two veteran lefties -- Sean Burnett and Cesar Ramos -- into camp on minor-league deals to compete for a job. Burnett made his debut Friday and gave up a triple, a sacrifice fly and a home run in his inning of work.

Luis Garcia was tagged for four hits and three runs in his spring debut.

Up next
The Phillies host the Yankees in Clearwater on Saturday afternoon. Morgan will start for the Phils against right-hander Adam Warren.