Phillies Notes: Tough call with Tony Gwynn Jr.

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Phillies Notes: Tough call with Tony Gwynn Jr.

There was a lot of activity around Citizens Bank Park before Monday’s game against the San Francisco Giants to kick off a seven-game homestand.

The media areas were teeming with scouts on hand to get a closer look at some players that may be available before the July 31 trade deadline, though the Phillies put a few on the open market before the game.

Before the game the team announced that Tony Gwynn Jr. had been designated for assignment and catcher Koyie Hill was outrighted off the 40-man roster. Additionally, infielder Cesar Hernandez was optioned to Triple A Lehigh Valley.

The moves were made so that Cliff Lee, catcher Wil Nieves and infielder Reid Brignac were activated from the disabled list.

With catcher Carlos Ruiz due back from a concussion shortly, the Phillies will likely option Cameron Rupp.

Nevertheless, Gwynn’s ouster was particularly difficult for the Phillies considering the recent events that occurred in the outfielder’s life. Gwynn’s father, Tony Sr., died last month and the outfielder went on bereavement leave for a week. With a lack of regular playing time, Gwynn was elbowed out of the mix when the Phillies acquired outfielder Grady Sizemore.

Gwynn batted .163 in 67 games, including 2 for 28 as a pinch hitter. He started just four games since June 21 and was relegated to duty as a late-game defensive replacement.

“It was tough with Tony with everything he's gone through,” manager Ryne Sandberg said. “He's a very professional guy, a terrific teammate, so it's tough. We'll see what he decides. We did give him the option to remain with the organization, and we'll see. He had limited playing time as of late, but overall a terrific guy and teammate.”

Meanwhile, Sizemore has started all seven games since joining the Phillies. He went into Monday’s game 10 for 24 (.417) with a pair of doubles. Coming back from a couple of knee surgeries, Sizemore has been quite durable this season. Sandberg doesn’t see this changing.

“I'm just kind of keeping tabs on him and with the break that we had, he got some rest,” Sandberg said. “He's voiced his opinion to get as many reps as he can and games played. But I'm also going to pick my spots with him.”

Back to the farm
Batting just .225 in 52 games and without any action in a week, Hernandez will go back to Triple A where he can expect regular playing time.

More than anything, at-bats are what Hernandez, 24, needs at this stage of his development.

“He needs to go play and get at-bats, freshen up a little bit at second base. Get some reps there where he's very good but also get time at short and third, continue with that on the defensive side of things and get some innings and reps on that side of the diamond,” Sandberg said. “On the offensive side of things, leads and jumps, with his speed the leads and jumps at first base with his potential base stealing, and also with his at-bats. He swings a good bat and he's on the fastball. He's a very good fastball hitter. Just battling with two strikes, battling the breaking pitches will go a long way to helping his at-bats.”

More K.K.?
End-of-the-rotation starter Kyle Kendrick’s struggles have been well documented this year. In fact, the right-hander has been on a steady decline since the second half of last season.

However, when Kendrick’s spot in the rotation comes around again Friday, will he be out there?

“As of right now he is, yes,” Sandberg said.

But as with anything this time of year, everything is subject to change.

Source: Phillies agree to 1-year deal with reliever Joaquin Benoit

Source: Phillies agree to 1-year deal with reliever Joaquin Benoit

The Phillies have agreed to a one-year, $7.5 million contract with right-handed reliever Joaquin Benoit, a source tells CSN's Jim Salisbury.

Benoit, 39, was the 11th-oldest pitcher in baseball last season, but he's remained effective as he's aged. Since 2010, Benoit has a 2.40 ERA and 0.97 WHIP, he's struck out 10.0 batters per nine innings while walking 2.8, and allowed a .189 batting average.

Benoit has also maintained his velocity through the years. His fastball averaged 94.2 mph last season, which is actually faster than it was in 2010.

Benoit has been in the majors for 15 years, spending eight with Texas, three with Detroit, two with San Diego, one with Tampa Bay and a half-season apiece with Seattle and Toronto.

Benoit has experience closing but has spent the majority of his career as a setup man. Benoit, along with Hector Neris, figures to have a place in the eighth or ninth inning for the Phillies in 2017, perhaps pushing last year's closer, Jeanmar Gomez, back to the seventh inning.

The Phillies have not yet officially announced the signing of Benoit and will need to clear a spot on the 40-man roster to make room for him.

MLB Notes: Dodgers sign LHP Rich Hill to 3-year deal

MLB Notes: Dodgers sign LHP Rich Hill to 3-year deal

LOS ANGELES — The Dodgers have signed free-agent pitcher Rich Hill to a three-year contract after he went 3-2 with a 1.83 ERA in six starts with the team he joined at the trade deadline.

The 36-year-old left-hander was acquired in a five-player trade with Oakland on Aug. 1. Hill was 1-1 with a 3.46 ERA in three postseason starts for the NL West champion Dodgers, including tossing six scoreless innings to win Game 3 of the NL Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs.

Hill was 12-5 with a 2.12 ERA in 20 starts for the Dodgers and A's last season. His ERA was second-best in the majors behind Dodgers teammate Clayton Kershaw's 1.69.

Hill was limited at times by a finger blister and a groin injury.

He has a 38-28 career record with a 4.10 ERA in 221 games in 12 major league season with the Cubs, Orioles, Red Sox, Indians, Angels, Yankees, A's and Dodgers.

Japan: Otani could be headed to MLB
TOKYO — Japanese pitcher Shohei Otani says he could move to Major League Baseball after the 2017 season.

The 22-year-old righthander, who has also shown potential as a hitter, signed a $2.37 million contract for next season with the Nippon Ham Fighters on Monday.

Otani will not become eligible for free agency until after the 2021 season and will need the Fighters' approval to negotiate with a major league club through the posting system before that time.

Otani says "we discussed the possibility of me going. ... The club will respect my wishes whenever I decide I want to go."

Otani went 10-4 as a pitcher and batted .322 with a career-high 22 home runs this season for the Fighters.

Blue Jays: Pearce signs
TORONTO — The Toronto Blue Jays signed utility player Steve Pearce to a two-year, $12.5 million contract.

The Blue Jays announced the move Monday. It could spell the end of Edwin Encarnacion's tenure in Toronto as Pearce primarily plays first base and first baseman Kendrys Morales and Justin Smoak are also on the roster.

Pearce hit .288 with 13 home runs in 85 games for Tampa Bay and Baltimore last season. The right-handed hitter can also play second base and left and right field and hit .309 against left-handed pitchers.

Not signing fan favorite Encarnacion will not go over well in Toronto, which led the American League in attendance. Encarnacion hit 42 home runs and led the AL with 127 RBIs along with David Ortiz. The Blue Jays might also let free agent right fielder Jose Bautista sign elsewhere.

Toronto has avoided large long-term contracts since Mark Shapiro became president of the club following the 2015 season.

Pearce, 33, underwent surgery to repair flexor tendons in his right forearm in late September and was expected to be out four to six months.