Lannan injury adds to insult of Phils' recent play

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Lannan injury adds to insult of Phils' recent play

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ATLANTA -- John Lannan threw 45 pitches for the Phillies on Wednesday night. They may have been the last 45 pitches he ever throws for the ballclub.

Adding injury to the insult that has become this Phillies’ season, Lannan walked slowly off the mound in the second inning of his team’s 6-3 loss to the Atlanta Braves (see Instant Replay).

The loss gave the sad-sack Phillies a 5-19 record since the All-Star break and moved them a step closer to last place in the NL East. Only 6½ games separate them from last-place Miami. Don’t be surprised if the Phillies get there.

The Phils finished the road trip at 1-5. They went 1-8 on their previous road trip. The team returns home Friday night and the players might want to wear earplugs. The visitor that night will be the rampaging Los Angeles Dodgers. They entered Wednesday night with 39 wins in their previous 47 games. This might not be a fair fight.

Atlanta is just as hot as the Dodgers. Owners of the majors’ best record, the Braves are 19-4 over their last 22 games. Five of those wins have come against the Phillies.

The Braves took it to Lannan early Wednesday night. Jason Heyward hit the third pitch Lannan threw over the center-field wall and the Braves were off and running. In all, Lannan allowed five runs in 1 1/3 inning.

A left knee injury that has bothered Lannan for some time bounced him from the game in the second inning. The left-hander now looks at an uncertain future. He is under team control for next season, but it’s possible the team will pass on offering him salary arbitration and let him become a free agent.

“There are a lot of decisions to be made,” GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said. “He is certainly somebody, like a lot of guys, that we’ll have to discuss. He’s pitched well at times. At times he’s struggled.”

Lannan, who missed time with a strained quadriceps tendon in the area of his left knee earlier this season, will be checked by doctors on Thursday. He could be facing season-ending surgery.

“I had the quad problem and some structural damage that happened over the years,” Lannan said. “The other thing, not the quad tendon, flared up before my last start. I tried to fight through it, but it was obviously affecting the way I was throwing.

“I want to get it fixed. That’s what it comes down to. Short-term that could create a lot of questions, but long-term, if I get it fixed, I feel I can have a decent career.”

Lannan signed a one-year deal worth $2.5 million with the Phillies in the offseason. He is 3-6 with a 5.33 ERA in 14 starts.

“It’s tough because I want to help the team,” he said. “I know what I can do when I’m healthy. I feel like I’m letting everyone down.”

Lannan has plenty of company in that area. Since the All-Star break, Phillies starting pitchers not named Cole Hamels have a combined ERA of 8.04.

Lannan goes down just as the Phillies are getting closer to getting two pitchers off the disabled list. Roy Halladay and Jonathan Pettibone will both make minor-league rehab starts on Thursday.

Halladay will probably make at least one other rehab start and could return to the rotation during the final week of August.

Down 5-0 after two innings, the Phillies got little going against Atlanta’s Brandon Beachy, who allowed just two runs over six innings.

Some of the Phillies' youngsters looked good. Domonic Brown singled, doubled and smacked his 27th homer. Darin Ruf homered and got a couple good breaks on fly balls to right field. Cody Asche made a couple of nice plays at third base.

Other than that, there’s not much to feel good about with this team.

“It’s tough,” Michael Young said. “There’s no way around that. As a player, there’s two directions you can go: You can pack it in or you can keep fighting. At that point, it comes down to pride as a player. You keep fighting -- scratch and claw and do anything you can to help the team win.”

Young said the mood of the team is down.

“But it should be down,” he said. “You’re not supposed to lose in the big leagues, especially with this organization. We’re not supposed to lose. At the same time, you should feel bad after a loss. But when you get to the ballpark the next day, it’s a new opportunity to show what you’re made of.”

Phillies 10, Blue Jays 3: Jeremy Hellickson limbers up, offense continues to hit

Phillies 10, Blue Jays 3: Jeremy Hellickson limbers up, offense continues to hit

DUNEDIN, Fla. — Jeremy Hellickson did not shine in his spring debut Sunday, but he didn’t have to.

Hellickson projects to be the Phillies' opening day starter for the second straight year, but with five weeks to go before it all starts for real in Cincinnati, he has plenty of time to put a coat of polish on his game.

The right-hander knocked off some wintertime rust with two innings of work against the Toronto Blue Jays. He gave up four hits and two runs, walked one and did not strike out a batter.

"I felt great," Hellickson said. "I wasn't really commanding the fastball like I wanted, but my arm and my body felt good."

Hellickson went 12-10 with a 3.71 ERA in 32 starts for the Phillies last season and could have opted for free agency in the offseason. However, he surveyed the marketplace and determined he'd be better off taking the Phillies' qualifying offer of $17.2 million for 2017 and trying his luck on the free-agent market next season.

So he's betting on himself.

"That's kind of how I'm looking at it," he said. "It was easy to do that just with the way I felt last year. I think I can definitely repeat or exceed what I did last year."

The Phillies can't give Hellickson another qualifying offer after this season so it's quite possible they will look to deal him in July. But that won't necessarily be easy. The Phils had talks with a number of teams about Hellickson last July and were unable to consummate a deal. It will be tougher this July as Hellickson’s salary has jumped by $10 million. The Phillies may have to eat some of that salary to get a deal they like.

Hellickson was asked if he was ready for another summer of trade rumors.

"No," he said with a wry smile. "But I know it's coming."

He's holding out hope that the Phillies will play their way into contention and the front office keeps the rotation together. He believes it's possible.

"I think we have a really good team here," he said. "Hopefully we're the ones trading for guys at the deadline.

"I've been reading some stuff saying (Aaron) Nola is a No. 5 guy. If Nola's your No. 5 guy, you have a pretty good rotation. I definitely think one through five we can give six, seven, eight strong innings every time out. Then with the guys, we signed for the back of our bullpen, it'll make our jobs that much easier. The days we don't have it, I feel like we can hand it off to those guys after five or six. We're in pretty good shape."

The game
The Phillies beat the Jays, 10-3, on the strength of 13 hits and three Toronto errors. The Phils had eight hits in Saturday’s win over the Yankees.

Cam Perkins, Pedro Florimon and Daniel Nava all had two hits. Rhys Hoskins and Ryan Hanigan both walked twice. Andres Blanco homered. Brock Stassi doubled. Nick Williams had a hit, two RBIs and a walk. Power-hitting rightfielder Dylan Cozens stole two bases.

Cozens is a legitimate stolen-base threat. In addition to belting 40 homers at Double A Reading last season, he swiped 21 bags and was only caught once.

"You've got to like his tools," manager Pete Mackanin said. "He's really an athletic guy. He's got good hands at the plate. I think he's going to hit because he doesn't have a lot of excess body movement. He hits a lot with his hands and I think in time he'll cut down on the strikeouts and he'll be an even better player. He looks like a solid defender, good hitting ability, a lot of power and some speed."

On the mound
Ben Lively and Alberto Tirado both pitched two scoreless innings and Pat Neshek and Michael Mariot had one each.

Up next
Jerad Eikchoff makes his spring debut when the Phillies host the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday afternoon.

Clay Buchholz will get the start Tuesday against Baltimore.

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.