Twins 12, Phillies 5: Manuel irked by sloppy defense

Twins 12, Phillies 5: Manuel irked by sloppy defense
February 27, 2013, 5:45 pm
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FORT MYERS, Fla. – The Phillies came into this camp knowing they had to play better defense than last season if they’re going to rise to the top of the NL East again.

So far, so bad.

The Phillies have made nine errors in five games. They committed three more (and had other assorted defensive warts that could have been ruled errors) in Wednesday’s 12-5 loss to the Minnesota Twins.

In their 102-win season of 2011, the Phils had the best fielding percentage in the majors.

They slipped to 15th last season in finishing .500 and missing the playoffs for the first time since 2006.

Charlie Manuel wants to see improvement this season. He isn’t liking what he has seen from his fielders so far this spring.

“They gave me a headache today, a real good headache,” Manuel said after Wednesday’s game in which Freddy Galvis, John Mayberry Jr. and Yuniesky Betancourt were charged with errors.

“We can’t play like that if we expect to win. You’re going to make mistakes. At the same time, you can’t make that many mistakes and you can’t make the same mistakes over and over every day. What the hell? We had one clean inning today. One clean inning. We dropped balls and missed balls allover the field.

“Don’t get me wrong, I’m not panicking and I’m not really upset. But at the same time, I’m looking for better play. We’re looking to play the game better. That’s the bottom line. I don’t give a damn. We’re looking to play the game better. You have to catch the ball and throw it to the right place.”

Ruf hurting
Darin Ruf hasn’t played the field in two straight games because of a sore right arm. No one seems overly concerned about the soreness because Ruf, a first baseman by trade, is making the adjustment to a longer throw in the outfield. Phillies outfielders have done a lot of throwing and cutoff drills in recent days and Ruf said it caught up with him.

“I’m fine now,” he said.

Manuel said he would play Ruf on Thursday, though it was not clear where.

Ruf grounded out as a pinch-hitter in Wednesday’s game. Third baseman Mark Sobolewski made a nice play to his left to take away a potential hit from Ruf, who is 0-for-9.

“He needs to get a hit and he’ll be all right,” Manuel said. “He just looks like he’s trying a little too hard right now.”

Brown shines again
Domonic Brown batted third, had an RBI double off the centerfield wall, walked twice and scored three runs. He also made a nice catch running back to the leftfield wall. His confidence is growing and it can seen with the naked eye.

Brown is 4-for-9 with two homers and a double in five games.

“He’s been consistent so far,” Manuel said. “He’s looked real good. He’s played good.”

Howard keeps hitting
Manuel isn’t making it a secret: He wants Ryan Howard ready for the season and that means getting a lot of at-bats this spring. Howard has played in all five games – making trips to Lakeland and Fort Myers – and he is 6-for-12 in those games. Howard had an RBI single Wednesday.

Lannan makes his debut
Lefty John Lannan, the team’s No. 5 starter, allowed four hits and a run over two innings in his first start of the spring.

Ben Revere had two hits against his former team.

Up next
The Phillies host Atlanta on Thursday. Cole Hamels will start for the Phils. Mike Adams will get his first work of the spring. Chase Utley will be back at second base. Manuel is guarding Utley’s playing time to ease wear on his knees. Utley is feeling good and the Phils believe he’ll get plenty of at-bats playing in games in and near Clearwater.

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