CLEARWATER, Fla. — The Phillies played two on Tuesday, winning their road Grapefruit League game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, 6-2, down in Bradenton, Fla. after losing at home, 13-6, to the Toronto Blue Jays in Clearwater.
Lefty Ranger Suarez, a long shot to win the job as the fifth starter, pitched two scoreless innings against the Pirates, allowing two hits and a walk, and veteran Drew Storen, trying to resurrect his career after a two-year absence from the big leagues following Tommy John surgery, made his spring debut with a perfect inning.
In Clearwater, Jake Arrieta allowed a three-run homer in the first inning to Toronto’s Rowdy Tellez before pitching a scoreless second. Arrieta, making his first start since being shut down last August with a bone spur that had to be surgically removed, said he felt considerably better than he did at the end of last season.
“I feel like it’s coming out easier,” Arrieta said. “There’s no restriction. It’s coming out nice, the way it should.”
Jhailyn Ortiz, who received a team-record $4 million international signing bonus in 2015, accounted for four of the Phillies’ runs against the Blue Jays with a seventh-inning grand slam off veteran reliever Jake Petricka.
The doubleheader split left the Phillies’ exhibition record at 3-1-1. Zach Eflin will make his spring debut Wednesday against Minnesota in Fort Myers, Fla.
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Phil Gosselin was born in Bryn Mawr a decade after the Phillie Phanatic first appeared at Veterans Stadium after arriving from either the Galapagos Islands or, to be more accurate, the drawing board of Bonnie Erickson and Wayde Harrison, the designers of the furry green mascot’s costume.
It’s no secret, of course, that the Phillies are now at odds with the designers over the rights to the mascot, prompting the Phanatic’s makeover for the 2020 season that was revealed to the public Sunday in Clearwater.
“I’ve definitely been following the legal side of it and heard there might be some changes and stuff,” Gosselin said. “It’s definitely interesting. It will be cool to see a little change in the Phanatic.”
Even cooler was the story Gosselin told about his first encounter with the Phanatic before he was even born.
“When my mom was pregnant with me, the Phanatic came over and rubbed her belly,” Gosselin said. “I guess that’s a real early encounter. I don’t have any memories, but it’s something that happened. I guess it was a little good luck. My mom jokes about it to this day.”
Gosselin, a Malvern Prep graduate, became the 10th player in Phillies history named Phil last season, according to the team’s all-time roster. Gosselin, however, is the first Phil ever to play for the team after being rubbed in his mother’s womb by the Phillie Phanatic.
Gosselin, 31, was 10-for-32 as a pinch-hitter last season, and his .313 average in those situations ranked third in baseball among pinch hitters with at least 30 at-bats. Gosselin has played parts of seven seasons in the big leagues and has a career .250 average as a pinch hitter. He was happy to be back in the Phillies clubhouse this spring training not only because he grew up rooting for the team, but also because it was the first time since 2016 that he went to spring training with the same team he had ended the season with the year before.
A former fifth-round pick of the Braves out of the University of Virginia, he has played with Atlanta, Arizona, Pittsburgh, Texas, Cincinnati and the Phillies.
Center fielder Odubel Herrera, no longer on the Phillies’ roster but in the team’s minor-league camp, spoke publicly for the first time Tuesday since his suspension by Major League Baseball after being arrested on Memorial Day of last season on domestic abuse charges. Herrera apologized for his actions and said counseling sessions in Center City with his girlfriend have improved their relationship
After making his first Grapefruit League appearance Tuesday against Toronto, Bryce Harper gave his seal of approval to the Phillie Phanatic’s legal-induced makeover. “Everybody needs a glam up sometimes,” Harper said.
Zack Wheeler has not really been the center of attention in Phillies camp even after signing a $118 million free-agent deal. If he does get more of a spotlight, he believes he is equipped to handle it after being part of a hyped young rotation with the Mets that included Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard.
Photographer Yong Kim captured the day in pictures from Spectrum Field on Tuesday.
As he competes for the final spot in the starting rotation, Vince Velasquez vows to keep his pitches and his pitch count down in 2020.
Some of the younger Phillies, including Vineland’s Zach Warren, impressed manager Joe Girardi during the Phillies’ win over Baltimore on Monday.
Today: Zach Eflin makes his Grapefruit League debut on the road vs. Twins, 1:05 p.m.
Tomorrow: Nick Pivetta makes his second start vs. Red Sox in Fort Myers, 1:05 p.m.
Friday: Aaron Nola vs. Braves at Spectrum Field, 1:05 p.m.
March 26: Regular-season opener at Miami, 4:10 p.m.
April 2: Home opener vs. Milwaukee, 3:05 p.m.
On this date in 1954, Robin Roberts signed a one-year deal worth $40,000, making him the highest-paid pitcher in the National League. Owner Bob Carpenter had initially offered Roberts a deal that would have been a pay cut after the right-hander went 23-16 with a 2.75 ERA in 1953, but the pitcher held out until he got the deal he wanted.
“I am very well satisfied,” Roberts told The Inquirer after signing the deal. “It’s the best contract I ever signed. Mr. Carpenter had his ideas about what to offer me and I had mine about what to ask. We finally came to an agreement, but it’s my business what I’m getting, though I can say I’m well pleased. I feel real wonderful and am hoping for a fine season."
Phillies officials did not disclose Roberts’ salary, but said the pitcher surpassed slugging outfielder Del Ennis as the team’s top-paid player.
Send questions by email or on Twitter @brookob.
Question: Gents, I’m *almost* as excited about the return of Extra Innings each morning as I am about the season starting! Here’s my question: Even if [Andrew McCutchen] is ready to go for the start of the season, Girardi has (wisely) said he is going to be careful with him early. When McCutchen gets a break, who are the options to lead off? Last year, Hernandez could arguably play that role, but I’m not sure who on the current roster. Thanks. — Mike W., via email
Answer: Thanks for the kind words, Mike. So glad you enjoy EI.