Phillies Notes: Asche improves, Franco impresses

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Phillies Notes: Asche improves, Franco impresses

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- A few notes before the Phillies play the Blue Jays on Tuesday night (6:35 p.m., TCN):
 
• Cody Asche dodged a bullet when he was hit on the right hand by a pitch in Sunday’s game. Asche left the ballpark that day bruised and swollen, but he has made a quick recovery and was able to take batting practice Tuesday. It’s possible that the 23-year-old third baseman could play in Wednesday’s game against Atlanta.
 
• Asche is the lead candidate to be the opening day third baseman, but he has and will continue to be pushed by top prospect Maikel Franco.
 
Franco, who got his second straight start at third Tuesday night, has impressed manager Ryne Sandberg with how hard he hits the baseball. But Sandberg also likes the defense that Franco has played at third base.
 
“He’s looked real good at third base,” Sandberg said. “He’s got a soft glove. He reacts to balls well. The tougher the play, the softer he gets, which for a 21-year-old guy is pretty amazing. And his arm is very good. He made a play the other day behind the bag on the chalk and got it over to first base effortlessly and still had plenty of arm left.”
 
Franco is expected top open the season at Double A or Triple A, but he looks like a guy who could make a quick ascension to the majors.
 
• Cole Hamels continues to look good in workouts. He is expected to face hitters on Thursday and could be pitching in Grapefruit League games next week. Hamels was slowed by an offseason bout of shoulder tendinitis. He won’t be ready for opening day, but could be a go the second week of April.
 
• Pitcher Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez will get a test when he pitches against the Detroit Tigers and their rugged lineup Thursday in Lakeland.
 
The Phillies could have used Gonzalez in a televised split-squad game against the Yankees back in Clearwater, but Sandberg said Detroit “will be a good challenge” for Gonzalez, who walked four in 1 2/3 innings in his debut Saturday against the Yankees.
 
David Buchanan is also scheduled to pitch in Lakeland on Thursday. Sandberg said he was not sure who would start, but it would be either Buchanan or Gonzalez. For the record, Buchanan is listed on the Phillies' schedule as the starter.
 
Sandberg wasn’t sure whether he would stay back in Clearwater or head over to Lakeland to see Gonzalez and Buchanan.
 
“Either way, we’ll have eyes on him,” Sandberg said.
 
Kyle Kendrick will start the home game against the Yankees on Thursday. Japanese import Masahiro Tanaka will make the trip to Clearwater and start for the Yankees.
 
The Phillies will face Justin Verlander in Lakeland.
 
• Jimmy Rollins was a late scratch from the starting lineup Tuesday night. He has been ill. Rollins was able to work out before the game and could return to the starting lineup on Wednesday.

Phillies tender contracts to 3 players as Cody Asche becomes free agent

Phillies tender contracts to 3 players as Cody Asche becomes free agent

The Phillies tendered contracts to three arbitration-eligible players on Friday night and set another free.
 
Reliever Jeanmar Gomez and infielders Cesar Hernandez and Freddy Galvis were tendered contracts for the 2017 season while outfielder Cody Asche was let go after four seasons with the club. 
 
The Phillies signaled their intention to let Asche go when they designated him for assignment, a move that removed him from the 40-man roster, on Friday afternoon. The club had the option of trading Asche — and likely had discussions with other clubs — but ultimately decided to non-tender him before the 8 p.m. deadline. The move made Asche a free agent.
 
The Phils had removed Asche from the 40-man roster to clear a spot for David Rollins, a left-handed reliever who was claimed off waivers from Texas on Friday (see story)
 
Galvis and Hernandez, the team’s regular shortstop and second baseman, respectively, were certain to receive contracts for 2017. Gomez was less certain. He saved 37 games for the Phils in 2016, but struggled badly late in the season.
 
Phillies officials will try to negotiate 2017 salaries with all three players. If an agreement cannot be reached with a player, an arbitration hearing will be held later in the winter to determine that player’s salary for the coming season.
 
Gomez made $1.4 million in 2016, Galvis $2 million and Hernandez $525,000. According to mlbtraderumors.com, Gomez projects to make $4.6 million in arbitration, Galvis $4.4 million and Hernandez $2.5 million. 

The Phillies' roster is full at 40.

Phillies DFA OF Cody Asche, claim LHP David Rollins off waivers

Phillies DFA OF Cody Asche, claim LHP David Rollins off waivers

Cody Asche's time with the Phillies has come to an end.

The Phillies claimed LHP David Rollins off waivers from the Texas Rangers on Friday. To make room on the 40-man roster, Asche was designated for assignment. The Phillies had until 8 p.m. on Friday to tender a contract to the outfielder, but they instead chose to free up the roster spot for Rollins.

Asche played four seasons with the Phillies from 2013-16 after he was drafted in the fourth round in 2011. The St. Charles, Mo. native had a .213/.284/.350 batting line this past season over 71 games. His best season with the Phillies came as their starting third baseman in 2014, hitting 10 home runs and driving home 46 runs in 121 games.

Rollins has been on four different rosters this offseason. He pitched 31 games in relief for the Seattle Mariners over the last two seasons, sporting a 7.60 ERA over 34 1/3 innings. He was claimed off waivers by the Chicago Cubs 15 days after the World Series and then subsequently claimed again by the Rangers. 

Rollins was a 24th round draft pick by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 2011 MLB Draft and was traded a year later to the Houston Astros. Prior to the 2015 season, the Mariners picked Rollins in the Rule 5 draft after the Astros chose not to protect him.