Ryno gets his man, still needs pitching coach

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Ryno gets his man, still needs pitching coach

Ryne Sandberg has his 21st win as Phillies manager.

Sandberg wanted Larry Bowa as his bench coach.

He got him.

“We go back a long way,” Sandberg said after Bowa was officially named to the Phils’ coaching staff Tuesday. “I learned a lot from him as a young player. Now, as a young manager, with his experience and knowledge and information -- I think he'll be a terrific guy by my side. I have a high level of comfort with him, and he’s a top-notch baseball man.”

Bowa played 12 seasons at shortstop for the Phillies and was an All-Star and Gold Glover. He coached third base for the 1993 NL Champion Phils and managed the club from 2001 to 2004.

Bowa did not always leave the organization on good terms, but he always found his way back. This will be his fourth tour of duty with the club.

General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. acknowledged the messiness of Bowa’s previous departures.

“It was something we certainly thought about,” Amaro said. “But at the end of the day, Ryne's comfort level and Larry’s ability as a baseball person -- his knowledge of the game -- really overrode any ill feelings.

“For us, it's about getting the best people for Ryne to support him in the best way. Baseball seems to be cyclical. That's part of baseball. The fact of the matter is Larry’s an outstanding baseball man. This is not about Larry Bowa, this is about building a staff around and with Ryne that's going to be most effective. Clearly, Ryne felt that Larry was someone important to him.”

Bowa is known for being emotional and fiery. He speaks his mind and is not afraid to ruffle feathers. Some people love that about him. Others hate it.

Sandberg spoke to Bowa about his demeanor and does not think it will be a problem.

“I like people to be themselves,” Sandberg said. “But he's coming on board to support me and be one of the coaches. Everybody works together. I've had good conversations with him and he's totally on board with supporting me and doing his job.

“A little bit of energy and excitement is something he can bring to the ballclub in a positive way. We've had discussions about that and he's totally on board with what's going to be asked of him. I'm excited to have him around.”

Pete Mackanin was named third-base coach. He and Sandberg go back to the days when Sandberg played for the Chicago Cubs and Mackanin was a minor-league manager in that organization.

Mackanin was former manager Charlie Manuel’s bench coach from 2009-12. He was let go after the 2012 season and spent 2013 as a scout with the Yankees.

The Phillies still have at least one opening on their staff -- and it’s a big one. They need a pitching coach. Rich Dubee’s contract was not renewed after nine seasons. The Phils have not officially named a first-base coach or a bullpen coach, but holdovers Juan Samuel and Rod Nichols are both under consideration for those positions.

While Sandberg was clearly the driving force behind the hirings of Bowa and Mackanin, he will only be part of the decision-making process in selecting a pitching coach. Amaro said Nichols, a former minor-league pitching coach with the Phillies and the team’s bullpen coach in 2013, is a candidate for the job. But Amaro is clearly looking for other candidates, as well. He said an interview process would begin shortly.

“We're vetting out the best candidates,” Amaro said. “It's going to be a process. It's going to take some time, we think, because we're not really sure about all of the possible candidates who will be available. Clearly, there is a lot of movement going on around the league. We have done a great deal of research on possible candidates.”

Amaro said the next pitching coach does not have to have big-league experience, but it would be helpful.

“As far as prerequisites, we're just looking for the best guy,” Amaro said. “We're looking for someone who can both handle the staff and someone we feel has the right philosophy to move this club forward.”

Phillies manager Pete Mackanin: Adam Morgan is a definite bullpen candidate

Phillies manager Pete Mackanin: Adam Morgan is a definite bullpen candidate

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Just pitch.
 
Don’t worry about the role.
 
Just pitch.
 
That’s Adam Morgan’s mindset this spring.
 
“I’m just trying to show whoever needs to see it that I can be an asset to this team,” the left-hander said after his spring debut against the New York Yankees on Saturday (see story). “I’m just keeping it simple that way. I’m not trying to go out for that fifth (starting) spot. If the fifth spot opens up, I’d be more than willing to do that. If they want to put me in the bullpen, I’d be more than willing to do that. If they want me to be the backup catcher, I’ll be the backup catcher.”
 
The Phillies have plenty of candidates for backup catcher.
 
And the top five spots in their starting rotation, barring an unforeseen development, are accounted for.
 
But there is a way for Morgan to make this team.
 
“He’s definitely a bullpen candidate,” manager Pete Mackanin said.
 
Mackanin is on record as saying he’d like to have two lefties in what likely will be a seven-man bullpen. It might not work out that way, but that would be Mackanin’s preference.
 
Morgan is one of what appears to be four candidates along with Joely Rodriguez, Cesar Ramos and Sean Burnett. Ramos and Burnett are experienced major-league veterans in camp on minor-league contracts. Rodriguez is the only pure lefty reliever on the 40-man roster. Morgan, of course, is on the 40-man roster, but he’s mainly been a starter in his career.

There’s a long way to go in spring training and it would not be surprising to see general manager Matt Klentak add to the list of lefty relief candidates with some type of pickup before the end of camp.
 
But for now, it’s just these four.
 
Morgan, who turns 27 on Monday, started and pitched two scoreless innings against the Yankees on Saturday and will likely continue to have his innings stretched out throughout the Grapefruit League season, just in case he’s needed as a starter.

Ramos and Rodriguez both pitched an inning Saturday. Ramos allowed a hit and a run. Rodriguez had a clean inning. Burnett was tagged for two hits and two runs on Friday.
 
Morgan made 21 starts for the Phillies last season. He also made two relief appearances and finished the season with a 6.04 ERA. He was sent to Triple A in July and returned in mid-August. He made nine starts after returning and pitched at least six innings and gave up two or fewer earned runs in four of them.
 
During his time in Triple A, Morgan started throwing a two-seam fastball or sinker. He’s continued to throw it this spring and believes it will help him.
 
“I learned to trust the two-seamer last year and that’s what I hope to keep moving forward with,” he said.
 
Will it take him to the Phillies’ bullpen?
 
He hopes so. He got a taste of relieving last season and liked it.
 
“Oh, yeah, I loved it,” he said. “Every time the phone rang down there, I was on high alert. It was awesome. It’s a rush.
 
“But wherever I land, I land. I’d be willing to play anywhere on this team.”

Phillies 6, Yankees 5: Maikel Franco, Rhys Hoskins, Brock Stassi shine with bats

Phillies 6, Yankees 5: Maikel Franco, Rhys Hoskins, Brock Stassi shine with bats

BOX SCORE

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Pete Mackanin assembled what will probably end up being his opening day lineup for Saturday’s spring home opener against the Yankees.
 
He liked what he saw.
 
Especially from cleanup man Maikel Franco.
 
Franco’s big challenge in becoming a more complete player is to improve his selectivity at the plate. The 24-year-old third baseman looked pretty good in that area in three at-bats.
 
Franco fell behind 0-2 in his first at-bat then battled back to a full count before popping out in the second inning.
 
He smacked a homer to left on a 2-2 slider in the fourth and then in the sixth, he stroked a first-pitch gapper to left-center that went for an inside-the-park homer. The ball got stuck under the padding on the outfield wall and the umpire did not rule it a ground-rule double.
 
“Hey, you see my speed?” the not-so-fleet-footed Franco said with a laugh after coming out of the game. “It’s like Cesar’s (Hernandez) speed.”
 
Mackanin liked the totality of Franco’s at-bats, not just the results.
 
“He had two long, deep-count at-bats,” Mackanin said. “He worked the count deep and that was good to see.”
 
There are many miles to go before opening day, and Franco still has many miles to cover before he’s the complete player he wants to be and the selective hitter the front office wants to build around.
 
Franco vowed to keep working on it under new hitting coach Matt Stairs.
 
“He told me my focus should be when I stay to the middle of the field, I'll have a lot of success,” Franco said. “I am trying to work on it and put focus on it. I talked to (Howie) Kendrick about hitting and he's helped me. I'm going to stay on it every single day. I'm trying to do my job, trying to do the best I can.
 
“When I stay in the middle, when I try to hit the ball up the middle, something is going to happen. That's what I want to do, what I want to keep doing.”
 
Franco hit .255 with 25 homers and 88 RBIs last season, but his on-base percentage was just .306.
 
He was asked whether he had any personal goals for the season.
 
“The first thing is to try to be healthy,” he said. “I just want to play in 162 games. Other than that, I'll just do everything I can do.
 
“Every single day I want to do my best and not try to force the situation. I think I can do better than last year. This year should be very good and much better than last year.”
 
The game 
The Phillies won it, 6-5, on a walk-off RBI single by Brock Stassi in the bottom of the ninth inning. The hit scored Rhys Hoskins, who had doubled. Hoskins drove a homer to deep center earlier in the game.
 
Hoskins, who turns 24 in March, has 55 homers and 206 RBIs the last two seasons. He will move to Triple A this season and play first base.

Stassi is a candidate to win a job on the bench (see story). He hasn’t hurt himself in the first two games. He homered Friday and had the game-winning hit Saturday.
 
“I’m feeling pretty good early on,” he said. “Gotta keep it going.”
 
Pitching in
Adam Morgan pitched two scoreless innings. Prospect Ricardo Pinto pitched a scoreless inning. It’s not out of the question that he transition to the bullpen at some point this season.
 
Mark Appel showed his big stuff with three strikeouts in two innings of work, but his control problems also surfaced as he threw a wild pitch that resulted in two runs.
 
Up next
Probable opening day starter Jeremy Hellickson makes his spring debut Sunday against the Blue Jays in Dunedin.
 
Here is the Phillies’ posted lineup for that game:
 
1. Cameron Perkins CF
2. J.P. Crawford SS
3. Daniel Nava LF
4. Cameron Rupp DH 
5. Andres Blanco 2B
6. Dylan Cozens RF
7. Ryan Hanigan C
8. Brock Stassi 1B
9. Taylor Featherston 3B
 
Right-hander Joe Biagini will start for Toronto.
 
Jerad Eickhoff will start for the Phillies against Tampa Bay on Monday. Clay Buchholz will start against Baltimore on Tuesday. Both of those games are in Clearwater.