Pitching coach Bob McClure learned from the best, now passing it on to Phils' young pitchers

Pitching coach Bob McClure learned from the best, now passing it on to Phils' young pitchers

MILWAUKEE -- Bob McClure had plenty of work to do Saturday as the Phillies prepared to face the Milwaukee Brewers in Game 2 of a three-game set at Miller Park, but Philadelphia's pitching coach needed to take a brief break before Aaron Nola threw his first pitch to handle some personal business.

McClure crossed the field to join his 1982 Milwaukee Brewers teammates as they were honored on the 35th anniversary of that franchise's first — and to this date — only World Series appearance.

"A lot of the guys have been to the reunions in the past but I've either been playing or coaching so this is the first one I've been able to go to," McClure said. "It's very exciting to see these guys because a lot of them were my mentors."

McClure was 30 years old and already had seven seasons under his belt when the '82 campaign got underway. He started 26 games for the Brewers that season and went 12-7 with a 4.22 ERA in 34 overall appearances, moving to the bullpen later in the season after closer Rollie Fingers suffered an arm injury and the team acquired Don Sutton in August to bolster the rotation.

He was on the mound for the final outs of the regular season as Milwaukee beat the Orioles to clinch the AL East crown and made six postseason appearances in the ALCS and World Series, going 1-2 with a pair of saves and a 3.00 ERA in six innings of work.

McClure pitched 11 more seasons in the big leagues finishing with a 68-37 record and 3.81 ERA in 698 career appearances; success he attributes to the lessons he learned while playing alongside the likes of Fingers, Sutton and other talented pitchers like Mike Caldwell, Pete Vukovich and Jim Slaton.

"(Caldwell) took me under his wing," McClure said. "I'd watch him pitch — a guy who went 22-9 one year with 20-some complete games. I like I had better stuff, but he'd have better results. I'd talk to him about it. He'd rarely pitch above the knees. He could pitch you in, he could pitch you away, but he kept the ball down so well. It was really him teaching me how to command the baseball and the idea of command over velocity. I wasn't very good at it, but it helped me a lot. 

"Caldwell and Vukovich were two of the most competitive guys I'd ever see take the mound and (catcher) Ted Simmons was the overall mentor to all of us. He helped our team learn how to win. It sounds basic but when you have a group of talented guys who hadn't put it together, getting a guy like Ted Simmons kind of got everyone on the same page to play together and win games as a unit."

After his career came to an end in the 1993 season, McClure joined the coaching ranks, first with the Colorado Rockies from 1999-2005 then joined the Royals, who fired him after the 2011 season. 

He spent less than one season in the Red Sox organization and signed on as the Phillies' pitching coach in November 2013.

In Philadelphia, McClure has plenty of young talent to work with. Along with Nola, the franchise has high hopes for Jerad Eickhoff and Nick Pivetta. As McClure helps those players get their careers going, he tries to pass along the lessons he learned while in Milwaukee.

"It can be trying at times but I try to look back on how long it took me," McClure said. "It took me three years before I even started to realize who I was or what I could do. The most satisfying thing for me is seeing guys understand mentally where they're at, what they can do, what they can't do so they start to know themselves."

Phillies recall Jake Thompson from Triple A, option Ricardo Pinto to Lehigh Valley

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Phillies recall Jake Thompson from Triple A, option Ricardo Pinto to Lehigh Valley

After Monday night's rain-soaked blowout loss, the Phillies' bullpen seems to be a bit depleted.

With that in mind, the Phillies have recalled pitcher Jake Thompson from Triple A and optioned reliever Ricardo Pinto to Lehigh Valley.

After a lengthy rain delay cut short Vince Velasquez's start, the Phils' bullpen was charged with six innings of work in the 13-4 loss. Pinto, responsible for five of the runs, tossed 1 1/3 innings as play resumed in the fourth inning. 

He may not be down for long, though, as the Phils have an off day Thursday to recover.

Thompson seems like a peculiar choice to call up. He's struggled mightily this year in Lehigh Valley. The 23-year-old who came over in the Cole Hamels trade, is 4-11 with a 5.36 ERA. He's given up 107 hits in 94 innings pitched, as well as 36 walks on the year — one less than he gave up in 129 2/3 innings in 2016.

However, Thompson is already on the 40-man roster and has not pitched since going seven strong innings of two-run ball on July 20. 

Tonight's lineup: Phillies showcasing Howie Kendrick in cleanup spot

Tonight's lineup: Phillies showcasing Howie Kendrick in cleanup spot

With less than a week to go before the trade deadline, the Phillies are putting Howie Kendrick in prime position to show off his skillset to a contender.

After sitting out last night's 14-3 loss, Kendrick returns to the lineup, batting cleanup and playing left field. In four games since returning from a hamstring injury, Kendrick has picked up where he left off, hitting .364 with two RBIs. Overall, Kendrick has appeared in just 37 games for the Phillies in 2017, but has been exceptional when healthy. 

Although he may not hit for power, his .350 batting average and ability to play multiple positions in the infield and outfield should be enough to interest teams. 

Cesar Hernandez will again lead off vs. the Astros. Much like Kendrick, Hernandez has had a strong return from the DL, hitting .321 with six RBIs in seven games since the All-Star break. He's also worked five walks compared to just three strikeouts. It's no surprise Hernandez's return has coincided with the Phillies' recent hot offensive stretch (see Game Notes)

Since the All-Star break, the Phillies have the seventh-most runs scored in all of baseball. Monday's loss ended a stretch of seven straight games of five or more runs scored for the Phillies — their longest single-season stretch since 2005.

Nick Williams will hit in the three-hole for the second straight game. Williams has sparked the Phils' stagnant offense since his arrival to the big leagues. In 20 MLB games, Williams is slashing .315/.350/.966 with four homers and 18 RBIs. 

Here is the Phillies lineup:
1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Freddy Galvis, SS
3. Nick Williams, RF
4. Howie Kendrick, LF
5. Odubel Herrera, CF
6. Maikel Franco, 3B
7. Tommy Joseph, 1B
8. Cameron Rupp, C
9. Nick Pivetta, P

And for the Astros:
1. Jose Altuve, 2B
2. Josh Reddick, RF
3. Yuli Gurriel, 1B
4. Evan Gattis, C
5. Marwin Gonzalez, SS
6. Derek Fisher, CF
7. Alex Bregman, 3B
8. Norichika Aoki, LF
9. Charlie Morton, P