Jonathan Pettibone's big-league debut similar to his dad's

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Jonathan Pettibone's big-league debut similar to his dad's

Jay Pettibone, his wife, son and daughter flew all night from California to be in Philadelphia on Monday. The Pettibones expected to be a little tired after a trip on the red eye, but they weren’t expecting to be so cold.

You see, while rushing around to get ready for a last-second trip and making the arrangements with work and school, the family wasn’t prepared for the winter-like evening at Citizens Bank Park. They didn’t pack any winter coats.

Nevertheless, Jay Pettibone warmed up quickly after watching his son Jonathan work 5 1/3 innings against the Pittsburgh Pirates in his major-league debut at Citizens Bank Park on Monday night (see story). In fact, Jonathan Pettibone did pretty well on such short notice. On Saturday, the 22-year-old right-hander from Anaheim, Calif. was in Allentown, Pa. with the Phils’ Triple A club when he got the call to come to Philadelphia.

Pettibone allowed six hits, including a pair of solo homers, and no walks (more on that here) while striking out six in 5 1/3 innings to put the Phillies in position to pull out the 3-2 victory (see Instant Replay) and make the trip that much more exciting for Jay Pettibone and his family.

“Everyone is busy with work and school,” Jay Pettibone said. “My daughter is in high school and my son is in college playing ball, too, and packing everything up within a few hours to get on the road -- we just wanted to be there for him and show him the support. It was something we didn’t want to miss.”

A similar scenario occurred 30 years ago, too. While pitching for the Triple A Toledo Mud Hens, Jay Pettibone was told to hurry to Minnesota to make his big-league debut against the Kansas City Royals.

Jay Pettibone remembered that Sept. 11, 1983, complete-game loss as if it were yesterday. His son remembers hearing the story about that debut over the years, too.

“He always talks about it because he got a CG (complete game), so it went a little better than mine,” Jonathan Pettibone said. “He reminds me from time to time, but it’s all in fun.”

There are some quirky coincidences in the pro baseball careers of Jay and Jonathan Pettibone. Aside from rushing from Triple A to make surprise spot starts, the elder Pettibone remembered working for pitching coach Johnny Podres, who also guided the Phillies’ pitchers when they won the National League in 1993.

Jay passed on the advice he received from Podres back then to Jonathan on Monday afternoon.

“The whole scenario. The quick call and hurry to get there and being told you’re pitching the next day,” Jay Pettibone said. “I just told him to relax and enjoy it just like I was told by Johnny Podres way back when. I tried to do that myself.”

It was the perfect bit of advice.

“Don’t let anything around here get to you,” Jonathan Pettibone said his dad told him. “Just enjoy it and do what you’ve been doing your whole life.”

In Jay Pettibone’s debut, he went up against Danny Jackson, a member of that '93 Phillies team. He made three more starts after the debut and lost them all. When the season ended, Jay Pettibone went back to the minors in 1984, and he played for a young manager in his second season at Double A Orlando named Charlie Manuel.

Three decades later and Jonathan Pettibone made his big-league debut for Charlie Manuel.

What are the odds?

“He was a good guy that the players all liked,” Jay Pettibone remembered. “He just let you go do your thing. As a pitcher, he would let you go out there and go deep into games. The players that were hitters really liked him because right fresh out of baseball and he was very helpful to them.”

Manuel recalled the elder Pettibone’s repertoire.

“I remember he pitched for me,” Manuel said about Jay Pettibone. “Sinker, slider.”

Jonathan Pettibone relied mostly on his fastball and changeup. Of his 83 pitches in 5 1/3 innings, Pettibone threw just eight sliders. Everything else was heat or a changeup, which was the plan. Eventually, Pettibone will have to throw more breaking pitches, but for now it was important to throw strikes and get ahead of hitters.

“That was the game plan,” Jonathan Pettibone said. “I didn’t want to pick around the strike zone. I wanted to be aggressive and get ahead of guys.”

Manuel liked the pitcher's aggressiveness. Though he allowed a double on the second pitch he threw in the game, Pettibone recovered to get out of the inning unscathed. In the second, Pettibone allowed a solo homer to third baseman Pedro Alvarez, but recovered to get a pair of strikeouts.

In his first big-league plate appearance, Pettibone drew a leadoff walk against A.J. Burnett, advanced to second on Jimmy Rollins’ single and moved to third on a groundout by John Mayberry.

When Burnett threw one wild to Chase Utley, Pettibone rushed home with the Phillies’ first run.

Dad might have been a little more nervous about the at-bat and the trip around the bases than the pitching performance.

“Oh boy,” Jay Pettibone said about watching his son dig in at the plate.

Pettibone got three more strikeouts in the third and fourth innings and allowed just one hit. Russell Martin hit a solo homer to lead off the fifth and Clint Barmes followed with a single, but Pettibone got out of the inning with three ground balls.

After Pettibone retired Andrew McCutchen to start the sixth, Manuel went to the bullpen.

Through it all, the first Phillie to be born in the 1990s was poised and stoic on the mound. Yeah, he admitted to having difficulty falling asleep the night before and said he was nervous for the first couple of innings, but once he got going it was just another game.

“That’s normal for him,” Jay Pettibone said. “He stays in control and doesn’t show a lot of emotion. That’s typical for him.”

In the meantime, the Phillies are going to need a fifth starter with John Lannan on the disabled list. Manuel said the Phillies will discuss if Pettibone will get some more work in the big leagues, but if it’s a one-and-done gig, it went pretty well for the kid.

Even his dad thinks so.

“Good job,” Jay Pettibone said when asked what he’ll tell his son after the game. “Way to go out there and throw your strikes and challenge people. That’s the key. Let them put the ball in play and keep the game close and turn it over to the ‘pen like he did and they have a good chance to win it.”

Phillies Phodder: Jerad Eickhoff, a new bat, Montgomery and other matters

Phillies Phodder: Jerad Eickhoff, a new bat, Montgomery and other matters

A few Phillies thoughts between NFL playoff games:
 
Jerad Eickhoff was in town the other day putting smiles on the faces of some special kids at CSN Philly’s annual Shining Star Awards dinner, which benefits the March of Dimes.
 
Before the event, Eickhoff was a guest on Philly Sports Talk and he was asked about the possibility of being the Phillies' opening day starter April 3 in Cincinnati. The right-hander said all the right things, noting that there were several worthy candidates and that the decision ultimately would be made by manager Pete Mackanin, and he was right on all counts.
 
In the big picture, it doesn’t matter a whole lot who gets the ball on opening day. The goal of every starter is to stay healthy for a full season and if he does that he’ll end up with 33 starts and ample opportunity to pitch himself to the top of the rotation.
 
Still, starting on opening day is a big honor, even if a lot of folks won’t remember who got the ball for the opener much beyond Memorial Day.
 
The 2017 Phillies have two legitimate candidates for opening day starter: Jeremy Hellickson and Eickhoff. 

Hellickson got the nod last year and did nothing to suggest he does not deserve the honor again this year. The veteran right-hander pitched 189 innings over 32 starts and was a pro’s pro from the moment he stepped foot in the clubhouse.
 
But with all due respect to Hellickson, this early vote for the opening day assignment goes to Eickhoff for a number of reasons.
 
First of all, he’s earned it with his performance. He led the starting staff in starts (33), innings (197 1/3) and ERA (3.65) in 2017. He delivered 20 quality starts and became just the fourth Phillie in the last 20 years to make 33 starts and record a 3.65 ERA or better, joining Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay and Curt Schilling. Mackanin and pitching coach Bob McClure constantly stress to the staff the importance of throwing strikes. Eickhoff responded in 2016. His ratio of 1.92 walks per nine innings was the fourth-best mark among National League starters in 2016.

In addition, he's earned it with his conduct and example. The guy approaches his craft with a maturity, dedication, work ethic and seriousness that is reminiscent of Roy Halladay.

All of this leads us to another reason that Eickhoff should get the opening day nod: The Phillies are a building team and Eickhoff, 26 years old and under team control for five more seasons, is going to be around for a while. Hellickson will likely depart for free agency after this season. Ditto Clay Buchholz. Awarding Eickhoff the opening day start would be a show of faith in the pitcher, a message that management believes he can be a rock and a leader in the rotation now and in the future. 
 
And as for the notion that holding Eickhoff back until the second or third game of the season would help keep him away from opposing teams’ top pitchers and get him better matchups and possibly more run support. Well, Eickhoff already knows what it’s like to face top rivals and keep his team in the game. Last year, he matched up against Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and twice against both Kyle Hendricks and Zack Greinke. Late in the season, he faced NL Cy Young winner Max Scherzer twice and lefty stud Chris Sale once. He pitched 19 innings in those three starts and allowed six runs. Pretty solid.
 
It’s certainly not the most important decision that Mackanin & Co. will face between now and April, but when it comes to opening day starter, well, we like Eick.
 
• Spring training is less than a month away, but the Phillies’ offseason roster construction remains in progress. You can pretty much bank on the club adding a bat, likely a left-handed-hitting outfielder, in the coming days.
 
Brandon Moss and Michael Saunders, both free-agent outfielders, remain the most likely targets, with Moss probably the best fit because of his ability to help out at first base.
 
The Phillies have had longstanding interest in Jay Bruce, who is on the Mets’ trading block, but sources say the price for him is two prospects. The rebuilding Phillies are committed to hanging on to their prospects. Moss or Saunders would cost just money, making them better fits on a short-term deal.

• The Phillies will officially open their new developmental academy in the Dominican Republic on Tuesday. The club has leased four different facilities since ramping up efforts in the DR in 1994. The new facility, built on 45 acres in Boca Chica, is co-owned by the Phillies and Minnesota Twins. The two teams have separate baseball facilities and dormitories for up to 78 players. The clubs share kitchen, dining and field maintenance costs.
 
Read more about the new facility here.
  
• Agreeing at the midpoint and avoiding a hearing is always the goal when a player and his team exchange salary figures during the arbitration process. Cesar Hernandez submitted a figure of $2.8 million and the Phillies came in at $2 million. Shake hands at $2.4 million and move on.
 
• We mentioned this recently, but it’s worth repeating because it’s so remarkable. At home in 2016, the Phillies recorded a team batting average of .230 and a team on-base percentage of .291. Those marks were the club’s worst in more than a century of official record keeping.
 
• Phillies prospect Carlos Tocci is a strong candidate for the rookie of the year award in the Venezuelan winter league. The 21-year-old outfielder hit .323 with a .403 on-base percentage in 59 games for the Aragua ballclub.
 
Odubel Herrera was rookie of the year and batting champion in the Venezuelan league two years ago.
 
• And finally, Phillies chairman David Montgomery was among the honorees at the 14th annual Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation In the Spirit of the Game awards dinner Saturday night in Beverly Hills, California.
 
Montgomery received the Allan H. “Bud” Selig Executive Leadership Award. Rachel Robinson, the widow of Jackie Robinson, Hall of Famer Randy Johnson, Bo Jackson, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts and a host of legendary scouts were among the other honorees at the event.
 
It was nice to see an organization dedicated to scouting recognize Montgomery, who served as Phillies president from 1997 to 2014. As leader of the Phillies, Montgomery always realized the importance of scouts in building a successful organization, and in his typical style built personal relationships with every member of his club’s scouting staff, right down to the area guys who drive around baseball’s backstreets in search of young talent. Winning the 2008 World Series was the highlight of Montgomery’s time as club president and that team was built on the back of good scouting.
 
So congratulations to one of the classiest and most respected men in the game on a most fitting honor.

Phillies avoid arbitration with Jeanmar Gomez, exchange figures with Cesar Hernandez

Phillies avoid arbitration with Jeanmar Gomez, exchange figures with Cesar Hernandez

Updated: 7:50 p.m.

The Phillies and relief pitcher Jeanmar Gomez on Friday avoided salary arbitration by agreeing to a one-year deal worth $4.2 million, according to a major league source.

Friday was the deadline for teams and arbitration-eligible players to exchange salary figures. The Phils avoided arbitration with shortstop Freddy Galvis on Thursday with a one-year, $4.35 million agreement.

Second baseman Cesar Hernandez is the team's lone remaining arbitration-eligible player. 

Hernandez and the team exchanged salary proposals on Friday. Hernandez is seeking $2.8 million. The team offered $2 million. The two sides can continue to negotiate and if a settlement is not reached, an arbitration panel will decide on Hernandez's 2017 salary by picking the player's asking price or the team's offer. Agreements are typically stuck at or near the midpoint before a hearing is even needed. Hearings are held during the first two weeks of February, if needed.

Hernandez made $525,000 in 2016. He hit .294 with a .371 on-base percentage and led the majors with 11 triples.

Cody Asche and Darin Ruf were also set to enter arbitration years but Asche was non-tendered and Ruf was traded to the Dodgers.

This is Gomez's final arbitration year; he's set for free agency after the season. It's a nice raise for a reliever who made $1.4 million in 2016.

Gomez surprisingly emerged as the Phillies' closer early in the season. He was the one man in early April who seized the late-inning opportunity and he carried the closer's job into the final weeks of September.

Gomez saved 37 games in 43 opportunities after registering just one in his career prior to 2016. He had a 2.97 ERA with 34 saves on Sept. 1 but had a rocky final month, allowing 17 earned runs in eight innings. It raised his season ERA to 4.85.

The Phillies added some relief depth this offseason in Joaquin Benoit and Pat Neshek. They also have Hector Neris, who had a 2.58 ERA with 102 strikeouts in 80 innings last season, consistently showing a disappearing splitter. 

So it's no given Gomez keeps the closer's job in 2017. In fact, it would seem unlikely given his shaky September and the type of stuff Neris and Benoit possess.

CSNPhilly.com's Jim Salisbury contributed to this story.