Odúbel Herrera played small ball in the first inning Sunday, then went deep in the third. But the short and long of it, according to manager Joe Girardi, is that the Phillies’ center-field derby is far from over.
“We’re just going to have to let it play out for another two weeks,” Girardi said after the Phillies’ 6-5 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates in Bradenton, Fla.
Girardi said it’s “still too early” to consider anyone a frontrunner in the wide-open competition. But Scott Kingery and Roman Quinn continue to pile up strikeouts, and former No. 1 overall draft pick Mickey Moniak is still getting most of his playing time off the bench, including a double in two at-bats Sunday.
After Kingery led off the game by striking out on four pitches, Herrera dropped a bunt and used his speed to beat out an infield single. He later scored in a two-run first inning.
“It’s got to be part of his game,” Girardi said. “We work on these guys all the time with bunting, and he tried it out right away and he had success. That’s always easier to sell when you have success and you do it.”
Two innings later, Herrera jumped on a first-pitch curveball from Pirates lefty Steven Brault and lined it over the right-field wall. Herrera is 6 for 20 (.300) with two homers in Grapefruit League games.
“He had another good day,” Girardi said.
If you tuned in late, it’s likely you missed Matt Moore’s start. The lefty allowed one hit -- a solo homer on what he termed a “lazy” cutter to Jacob Stallings in the first inning -- and got through his outing on only 45 pitches, 32 of which were strikes.
“He’s ahead in the count all the time,” Girardi said.
Indeed, Moore has thrown 64 of 90 pitches for strikes in three spring-training outings. He has allowed one run in eight innings and appears to be in good shape to grab a spot in the starting rotation.
Matt Joyce delivered two RBI singles in his quest to nail down a spot on the Phillies’ bench. The lefty-hitting outfielder, who came to camp as a non-roster invitee on a minor-league contract, is 7 for 13 with a homer and four RBIs.
It was another encouraging game for the Phillies’ rebuilt bullpen, with David Hale, Brandon Kintzler, Connor Brogdon, Sam Coonrod, and JoJo Romero combining to allow two hits and three walks in 4 1/3 scoreless innings.
Brogdon left the game with an apparent injury after recording one out in the seventh inning. But Girardi said one of Brogdon’s ribs got out of place -- “It happens a lot with him,” the manager said -- and was treated immediately.
“They pushed it in and he’s fine,” Girardi said. “He didn’t want to come out, but it’s that time of year that I’m going to be overly cautious. And then he went and ran. So we don’t have any concerns.”
Chase Anderson is expected to start Monday, as the Phillies will cross the bay for a 1:05 p.m. game against the Yankees in Tampa, Fla. Domingo Germán is scheduled to start for New York. MLB Network will televise the game.