Phillies add pitching depth; outfielder could come soon


Phillies add pitching depth; outfielder could come soon

Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. sounds like a man with something up his sleeve.

Maybe something small, he said Wednesday.

Amaro is actively trying to add an outfielder before spring training. He gave off the impression that hes on the trail of something, but would not name names.

It would likely come from outside the organization, Amaro said. It could be a trade, but probably a free agent.

Amaro was asked if the outfielder he was pursuing would come on a minor-league deal or a big-league deal.

Not sure, he said. But were hopeful of adding an outfielder.

Michael Bourn is the top outfielder remaining on the free-agent market, but the Phillies, having traded for centerfielder Ben Revere, dont appear to be in on him. The Phils like Scott Hairston, but not his price tag. If it comes down, he could be a fit. The remainder of the free-agent outfield class is not pretty. Delmon Young is out there, but hes a defensive liability and has had off-field issues. Juan Rivera, Bobby Abreu, Ben Francisco, Ryan Sweeney, Ryan Raburn and Rick Ankiel also remain as free agents.

Amaro was asked to rate his chances of adding an outfielder as high or low.

Medium, he said.

The Phillies have considered trading for Alfonso Soriano or Vernon Wells. They could revisit those ideas down the road. Arizona's Justin Upton is also available for trade. Sources say the Phillies have investigated the possibility of acquiring Upton, but are wary of Arizona's sky-high asking price.

Were not done building our team, Amaro said. Our job of improving the team is never done.

The Phillies have shown that by adding pitching inventory in recent days. They have signed veteran starters Rodrigo Lopez and Aaron Cook to minor-league deals. Veteran reliever Juan Cruz was also signed to a minor-league deal. All three have been invited to big-league camp and will get a shot to make the roster.

Lopez is 37. Cook turns 34 in February. Cruz is 34.

The Phillies have some health concerns in their starting rotation. Roy Halladay spent time on the DL with shoulder issues last season and Cole Hamels dealt with shoulder soreness late last season and again early this offseason. Amaro was asked if he signed Lopez and Cook because of those concerns.

No, he said. Were just trying to protect ourselves as much as we can. The more depth we have the better. This gives us veteran guys so if someone goes down we dont have to force our young guys. Its also possible they could help in the bullpen. Anytime you can get depth without a huge financial commitment its a plus. And it creates a little competition, which is good.

Lopez will get 1 million if he makes the club. Fox Sports reports that Cooks deal is worth 1.6 million if hes in the majors. Cook, who has battled injuries in his career, hasnt had an ERA below 5.00 since 2009.

Halladay has been throwing in Florida. Amaro said the reports were good. Halladay is expected to begin throwing off a mound the last week of January. Spring training begins Feb. 12.

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Phillies Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Bunning recovering from stroke

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Phillies Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Bunning recovering from stroke

National Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher and Phillies great Jim Bunning is recovering from a stroke, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Bunning, who suffered the stroke Tuesday night in his Southgate, Kentucky, home, was moved from intensive care to a transitional care unit on Thursday night, per the report.

Bunning "has been provided skilled care that is leading him on the road to recovery," the family said in a statement Friday.

"The Bunning family wants to thank the first responders and medical personnel who have been treating dad," the statement said. "We sincerely appreciate the thoughts and prayers of all who are concerned about our father’s health. However, so we can focus our efforts on dad’s recovery, we ask the press to respect our family’s privacy at this time. We will let everyone know as his health continues to improve."

The 84-year old is one of two Phillies pitchers to toss a perfect game in the organization’s history. He accomplished the feat on Father’s Day in 1964.

Along with the Phillies, Bunning played for the Tigers, Pirates and Dodgers in his 17-year career. The righthander, who was enshrined on the Phillies Wall of Fame in 1984, won 89 games and posted a 2.93 ERA in six seasons in Philadelphia. 

After his baseball days, Bunning started a career in politics. He served stints in Congress and the U.S. Senate before retiring in 2010.

MLB playoffs: Cubs advance to first World Series since 1945

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MLB playoffs: Cubs advance to first World Series since 1945

CHICAGO -- Cursed by a Billy Goat, bedeviled by Bartman and crushed by decades of disappointment, the Chicago Cubs are at long last headed back to the World Series.

Kyle Hendricks outpitched Clayton Kershaw, Anthony Rizzo and Willson Contreras homered early and the Cubs won their first pennant since 1945, beating the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-0 Saturday night in Game 6 of the NL Championship Series.

The drought ended when closer Aroldis Chapman got Yasiel Puig to ground into a double play, setting off a wild celebration inside Wrigley Field, outside the ballpark and all over the city.

Seeking their first crown since 1908, manager Joe Maddon's team opens the World Series at Cleveland on Tuesday night. The Indians haven't won it all since 1948 - Cleveland and Cubs have the two longest title waits in the majors.

"This city deserves it so much," Rizzo said. "We got four more big ones to go, but we're going to enjoy this. We're going to the World Series. I can't even believe that."

All-everything Javier Baez and pitcher Jon Lester shared the NLCS MVP. Baez hit .318, drove in five runs and made several sharp plays at second base. Lester, a former World Series champion in Boston, was 1-0 with a 1.38 ERA in two starts against the Dodgers.

Deemed World Series favorites since opening day, the Cubs topped the majors with 103 wins to win the NL Central, then beat the Giants and Dodgers in the playoffs.

The Cubs overcame a 2-1 deficit against the Dodgers and won their 17th pennant. They had not earned a World Series trip since winning a doubleheader opener 4-3 at Pittsburgh on Sept. 29, 1945, to clinch the pennant on the next-to-last day of the season.

The eternal "wait till next year" is over. No more dwelling on a history of failure - the future is now.

"We're too young. We don't care about it," star slugger Kris Bryant said. "We don't look into it. This is a new team, this is a completely different time of our lives. We're enjoying it and our work's just getting started."

Hendricks pitched two-hit ball for 7 1/3 innings. Chapman took over and closed with hitless relief, then threw both arms in the air as he was mobbed by teammates and coaches.

The crowd joined in, chanting and serenading their team.

"Chicago!" shouted popular backup catcher David Ross.

The Cubs shook off back-to-back shutout losses earlier in this series by pounding the Dodgers for 23 runs to win the final three games.

And they were in no way overwhelmed by the moment on Saturday, putting aside previous frustration.

In 1945, the Billy Goat Curse supposedly began when a tavern owner wasn't allowed to bring his goat to Wrigley. In 2003, the Cubs lost the final three games of the NLCS to Florida, punctuated with a Game 6 defeat when fan Steve Bartman deflected a foul ball.

Even as recently as 2012, the Cubs lost 101 times.

This time, no such ill luck.

Bryant had an RBI single and scored in a two-run first. Dexter Fowler added two hits, drove in a run and scored one.

Contreras led off the fourth with a homer. Rizzo continued his resurgence with a solo drive in the fifth.

That was plenty for Hendricks, the major league ERA leader.

Hendricks left to a standing ovation after Josh Reddick singled with one out in the eighth. The only other hit Hendricks allowed was a single by Andrew Toles on the game's first pitch.

Kershaw, dominant in Game 2 shutout, gave up five runs and seven hits before being lifted for a pinch hitter in the sixth. He fell to 4-7 in the postseason.

The Dodgers haven't been to the World Series since winning in 1988.

Pitching on five days' rest, the three-time NL Cy Young Award winner threw 30 pitches in the first. Fowler led off with a double, and Bryant's single had the crowd shaking the 102-year-old ballpark.

They had more to cheer when left fielder Andrew Toles dropped Rizzo's fly, putting runners on second and third, and Ben Zobrist made it 2-0 a sacrifice fly.

The Cubs added a run in the second when Addison Russell doubled to deep left and scored on a two-out single by Fowler.

Lineup shuffle
Maddon benched slumping right fielder Jason Heyward in favor of Albert Almora Jr.

"Kershaw's pitching, so I wanted to get one more right-handed bat in the lineup, and also with Albert I don't feel like we're losing anything on defense," Maddon said. "I know Jason's a Gold Glover, but I think Albert, given an opportunity to play often enough would be considered a Gold Glove-caliber outfielder, too."

Heyward was 2 for 28 in the playoffs - 1 for 16 in the NLCS.

Kerry Wood, wearing a Ron Santo jersey, threw out the first pitch and actor Jim Belushi delivered the "Play Ball!" call before the game. Pearl Jam front man Eddie Vedder and actor John Cusack were also in attendance. And Bulls great Scottie Pippen led the seventh-inning stretch.