Odubel Herrera comes back swinging, believes he can win a batting crown

Odubel Herrera comes back swinging, believes he can win a batting crown

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- After a disappointing 1-for-11 showing for his native Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic, Odubel Herrera returned to the Phillies on Tuesday.

Pete Mackanin did not waste any time throwing Herrera in the lineup. He batted third -- where he is projected to hit on opening day -- and stroked a single and a double in five at-bats to help the Phillies rally for a 9-5 win over the Minnesota Twins (see game story). Herrera also scored two runs and made a nice running catch in center field.

"Odubel coming back 2 for 5, that was huge," Mackanin said.

Herrera's second hit of the day put the Phillies up in the ninth inning.

Herrera has just 19 at-bats in Grapefruit League play, so he will be in the lineup a lot over the final 11 days in Florida.

"I will be ready," he said.

Herrera has been the Phillies' best offensive player the past two seasons -- hitting .291 with a .773 OPS -- and management signed him to a five-year, $30.5 million contract in the offseason.

Mackanin believes Herrera can contend for a batting title if he adds a little more consistency to his game.

Does Herrera believe he can make a run at a batting title?

"Of course," he said. "I always have trust in myself.

"I do have some goals in mind, but I want to keep them to myself. I'm trying to be reserved when it comes to that. I'll try to show [them] as the season goes on."

Mets promote Tim Tebow to high Class A St. Lucie

Mets promote Tim Tebow to high Class A St. Lucie

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Tim Tebow is moving up and heading south -- to some very familiar territory.

Tebow has been promoted to the New York Mets' high Class A affiliate in St. Lucie, Florida. The 29-year-old Tebow led the University of Florida to two national championships in football and won the 2007 Heisman Trophy during his stellar career with the Gators.

"I'm not sure how much of an additional challenge it will be," Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said Sunday in San Francisco. "Clearly it's a step up. I certainly think he can handle it."

Tebow began his first pro baseball season with Class A Columbia, drawing huge crowds at home and wherever the Fireflies went in the South Atlantic League. He entered his final Fireflies game batting .222 with three home runs and 23 RBIs.

"I wouldn't say he has excelled there, but at the same time, what he's done there -- given all the circumstances -- justified the promotion to Port St. Lucie," Alderson said.

Phillies play wait-and-see game with Jerad Eickhoff and Howie Kendrick

Phillies play wait-and-see game with Jerad Eickhoff and Howie Kendrick

PHOENIX -- Jerad Eickhoff and Howie Kendrick both tested their achy body parts on Sunday.

Eickhoff, on the disabled list with an upper back strain, threw two 15-pitch "innings" in the bullpen and was pleased with the results.

"It felt good, no sense of pulling," he said. "We'll see how it feels tomorrow."

Eickhoff's turn in the rotation will come up Wednesday in Seattle. If he can't make the start, Mark Leiter Jr. will. Leiter pitched six shutout innings in his first big-league start on Friday night.

As for Kendrick, who is battling left hamstring tightness, he was not in the starting lineup for a fourth straight game on Sunday. He did run some sprints under the watchful eye of head athletic trainer Scott Sheridan before the game.

"He still feels it, but he's available to pinch-hit," manager Pete Mackanin said.

Is this getting close to being a situation that would require a trip to the disabled list?

"Hopefully not," Mackanin said. "Hopefully he's better tomorrow. If not, I'm hoping he can at least DH in Seattle (on Tuesday). He's one of our best hitters and I want to get him in there. But I've got to be cautious."

Kendrick already spent six weeks on the disabled list with an abdominal injury earlier this season. He's played well when healthy, hitting .355 (43 for 121) with a .414 on-base percentage in 31 games.

The Phillies need to be certain that Kendrick is healthy when they turn him loose because he could hold some trade value in the month of July and a full-blown injury would hurt that.