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Kyle Schwarber makes Phillies debut as DH in leadoff spot in 8-7 win over Blue Jays

Schwarber went hitless as the DH and Matt Vierling drove in two runs in his quest to win the center-field job.

Kyle Schwarber lines out in his first spring at-bat as a Phillie in the first inning on Wednesday.
Kyle Schwarber lines out in his first spring at-bat as a Phillie in the first inning on Wednesday.Read moreJose F. Moreno/ Staff Photographer

CLEARWATER, Fla. — After putting up eight runs in the first five innings, the Phillies narrowly eked out an 8-7 Grapefruit League win against the Blue Jays on Wednesday.

Catcher J.T. Realmuto hit his first home run of the spring, a solo shot to left-center field, but the Phillies bullpen fell apart with Sam Coonrod (three earned runs), Michael Kelly (two), Austin Ross and Connor Brogdon (one).

On the mound: Cristopher Sánchez started and struck out three and walked one, allowing no runs or hits in two innings. Reliever Nick Nelson also had a strong showing, striking out three and allowing no runs, hits or walks over two innings.

Who stood out: Center-field candidate Matt Vierling got the start in left field. He had two singles — one that came off the bat at 103.8 mph and the other at 104.4 mph — and drove in two runs. Now that Odúbel Herrera is undergoing an MRI exam for his right oblique, the center-field job has opened a bit. Vierling appears to be the front-runner.

First look at Schwarber: New Phillie Kyle Schwarber made his Phillies spring debut, hitting leadoff and playing DH. Schwarber struck out twice, but made hard contact on a lineout (114.1 mph).

Next: The Phillies play the Pittsburgh Pirates at 1:10 p.m. on Thursday in Bradenton, Fla. The game will be streamed on