CLEARWATER, Fla. -- It was one of those days for Jeremy Hellickson.
"He didn't have anything go right," manager Pete Mackanin said.
Hellickson, the Phillies' projected opening day starter, gave up nine hits and eight runs in five innings of work in a 13-8 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Saturday afternoon. Three of the runs were unearned after third baseman Maikel Franco committed a couple of errors (see full story).
"Things like that are going to happen," Hellickson said. "I have to figure out a way to limit the damage.
"Everything felt good. I was just leaving too many balls up."
Hellickson was able to stay on the mound and run his pitch count to 87. He should approach 100 in his next start as he zeroes in on opening day. Mackanin has not announced his opening day starter yet, but Hellickson lines up to get the nod for the second straight season.
"I'm ready to get out of here," he said.
The regular season begins two weeks from Monday in Cincinnati.
Gomez gets extra work
Mackanin began spring training by announcing that Jeanmar Gomez deserved the chance to be the closer after saving 37 games last season. But Mackanin did leave himself a little wiggle room to change his mind.
So, it was notable that Gomez pitched two innings Saturday. Was that a sign that Mackanin was leaning toward changing his mind and using Gomez in a multi-inning relief role?
The manager said no.
Pitching coach Bob "McClure wanted to get him stretched out, not for any particular reason, but just down here -- last year he did the same thing with all the relief pitchers. It's not going to hurt him," Mackanin said.
So Gomez is still the ninth-inning guy?
"Yeah, right now," Mackanin said.
Gomez struggled as closer last September and actually lost the job.
But this spring, he's been very good. He pitched scoreless ball for his two innings Saturday. He gave up a hit and struck out two. For the spring, he's allowed just a run in 7 2/3 innings. He has given up four hits, walked one and struck out four.
Veteran Ryan Hanigan, who is trying to stick with the team as a backup catcher, had a hit and is batting .429 (6 for 14). He has drawn six walks, tying him for the team high.
Hanigan also made a nice, hustling catch in foul territory. He had to negotiate a protective screen near the dugout and then juggled the ball while falling. But he hung on.
Hanigan is battling another veteran, Bryan Holaday, and rookie Andrew Knapp for the backup catcher's job.
Tommy Joseph's sore left hand is getting better. He took batting practice and reported no problems. However, he will not play Sunday and Monday is an off day. If he returns to action Tuesday, he will have had a full week off after being hit by a pitch on the hand.
The Phils play the Rays in Port Charlotte on Sunday. Jerad Eickhoff starts for the Phils against lefty Blake Snell.