Lack of pitching depth could help Kendrick stay

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Lack of pitching depth could help Kendrick stay

ATLANTA -- Kyle Kendrick tested his shoulder in a light throwing session Friday afternoon.

“It felt good,” said the right-hander, who was shut down with inflammation in the shoulder last week. “The [rehab] program is working.”

Kendrick said he would be ready to start his regular offseason throwing program in November.

The question remains: Will he be a Phillie beyond the Dec. 2 deadline for tendering contracts to arbitration eligible players?

Manager Ryne Sandberg may have unwittingly offered a clue on Kendrick’s future Friday when he spoke about next season’s pitching staff.

“We have a good place to start with (Cliff) Lee and (Cole) Hamels,” he said. “We’ll have KK in the mix and then some decisions will have to be made from there.”

Roy Halladay’s future with the club is one of the decisions that the Phils must make. And despite what Sandberg said, whether to tender Kendrick a contract -- he’s in line for a raise from the $4.5 million he made this season -- or let him walk is another decision that management must make. Still, it was interesting to hear Sandberg speak like Kendrick would be back. Maybe he knows something the rest of us don’t.

Kendrick struggled mightily in his final 14 starts of the season. He had a 6.45 ERA over that span. In his first 16 starts, he had a 3.46 ERA. He finished last season with a 3.20 ERA in his final 12 starts. The shoulder problem might have affected his performance in the second half of this season.

If Kendrick’s pockets of success aren’t enough to convince management to retain him, then the lack of starting pitching depth in the system might be. The Phillies have exhausted their supply of ready starting pitching in this final week of the season. By the end of the seven-game trip, the Phillies will have started a reliever three times.

Ethan Martin, who has recently been pitching out of the bullpen, is likely to plug Saturday’s start in place of Halladay. Zach Miner will make his third fill-in start in the season finale on Sunday.

Phillies prospect Nick Pivetta has long-awaited meeting with Roy Halladay

Phillies prospect Nick Pivetta has long-awaited meeting with Roy Halladay

CLEARWATER, Fla. – Phillies pitching prospect Nick Pivetta had one of those pinch-me moments Saturday.

He met his boyhood idol, Roy Halladay, at a charity event.

Someone had filled in Halladay that Pivetta had grown up in Canada and had regularly watched Toronto Blue Jays games on television. Pivetta loved watching Halladay pitch, as he talked about a few weeks ago here.

“I got to briefly shake his hand,” Pivetta said Sunday morning. “He knew I was like a stalker. He said, ‘Oh, right, you’re the guy from British Columbia.’ “

Halladay, who pitched for the Phils from 2010 to 2013, lives in the Clearwater area. Pivetta said he expected to speak more with Halladay in the coming days.

Halladay was honored at the 44th annual Clearwater For Youth banquet and Pivetta attended with a number of his teammates and Phillies officials. Phillies chairman David Montgomery and his wife Lyn were also honored for their charitable works.

Pivetta will pitch for Team Canada in the World Baseball Classic in March.

Phillies manager Pete Mackanin: Adam Morgan is a definite bullpen candidate

Phillies manager Pete Mackanin: Adam Morgan is a definite bullpen candidate

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Just pitch.
 
Don’t worry about the role.
 
Just pitch.
 
That’s Adam Morgan’s mindset this spring.
 
“I’m just trying to show whoever needs to see it that I can be an asset to this team,” the left-hander said after his spring debut against the New York Yankees on Saturday (see story). “I’m just keeping it simple that way. I’m not trying to go out for that fifth (starting) spot. If the fifth spot opens up, I’d be more than willing to do that. If they want to put me in the bullpen, I’d be more than willing to do that. If they want me to be the backup catcher, I’ll be the backup catcher.”
 
The Phillies have plenty of candidates for backup catcher.
 
And the top five spots in their starting rotation, barring an unforeseen development, are accounted for.
 
But there is a way for Morgan to make this team.
 
“He’s definitely a bullpen candidate,” manager Pete Mackanin said.
 
Mackanin is on record as saying he’d like to have two lefties in what likely will be a seven-man bullpen. It might not work out that way, but that would be Mackanin’s preference.
 
Morgan is one of what appears to be four candidates along with Joely Rodriguez, Cesar Ramos and Sean Burnett. Ramos and Burnett are experienced major-league veterans in camp on minor-league contracts. Rodriguez is the only pure lefty reliever on the 40-man roster. Morgan, of course, is on the 40-man roster, but he’s mainly been a starter in his career.

There’s a long way to go in spring training and it would not be surprising to see general manager Matt Klentak add to the list of lefty relief candidates with some type of pickup before the end of camp.
 
But for now, it’s just these four.
 
Morgan, who turns 27 on Monday, started and pitched two scoreless innings against the Yankees on Saturday and will likely continue to have his innings stretched out throughout the Grapefruit League season, just in case he’s needed as a starter.

Ramos and Rodriguez both pitched an inning Saturday. Ramos allowed a hit and a run. Rodriguez had a clean inning. Burnett was tagged for two hits and two runs on Friday.
 
Morgan made 21 starts for the Phillies last season. He also made two relief appearances and finished the season with a 6.04 ERA. He was sent to Triple A in July and returned in mid-August. He made nine starts after returning and pitched at least six innings and gave up two or fewer earned runs in four of them.
 
During his time in Triple A, Morgan started throwing a two-seam fastball or sinker. He’s continued to throw it this spring and believes it will help him.
 
“I learned to trust the two-seamer last year and that’s what I hope to keep moving forward with,” he said.
 
Will it take him to the Phillies’ bullpen?
 
He hopes so. He got a taste of relieving last season and liked it.
 
“Oh, yeah, I loved it,” he said. “Every time the phone rang down there, I was on high alert. It was awesome. It’s a rush.
 
“But wherever I land, I land. I’d be willing to play anywhere on this team.”