LAKELAND, Fla. — Mickey Moniak didn’t meet Kevin Long until two weeks ago when spring training began. But the new Phillies hitting coach already knew all about Moniak.
“He probably watched 1,000 of my at-bats and knew exactly what we were walking into even with not being able to communicate during the offseason,” Moniak said here Saturday. “That’s why he’s the best in the business.”
Moniak homered for the second consecutive game, as the Phillies got thumped, 14-8, by the Tigers. The former No. 1 overall pick credits Long for moving him closer to the plate and changing his stride to better utilize his hips and get more rotation in his swing.
Whatever helps, right? Moniak is back in the mix for a roster spot as a spare outfielder or lefty-hitting platoon mate for Matt Vierling in center field because Odúbel Herrera (strained side muscle) will open the season on the injured list.
“Just that small, little adjustment has worked wonders,” Moniak said. “I feel like I’m seeing the ball better. I’ve got more time up there to be able to adjust to pitches and still be on the heater, and we’re seeing the results.”
On the mound: It took all of 24 pitches for Zach Eflin to record six outs in his first spring-training start. Eflin, who had knee surgery in September, is on track to start the third game of the season, April 10 at home against the Athletics.
Who stood out: Rough day for reliever Connor Brogdon, who walked three batters and got only one out in the third inning.
Etc.: Rhys Hoskins crushed a homer to the right of straightaway center field that traveled 447 feet, according to Statcast. ... Didi Gregorius also homered — with borrowed equipment, no less. ... Vierling tripled to center field in the second inning. ... Nonroster and minor-league relievers Joe Gatto, Michael Kelly, Jeff Singer, and Andrew Schultz combined to allow 12 runs on eight hits and six walks.
Quotable: “Zach Eflin looked great. Of course, first [his knee] gets tested on a 3-1 [groundout] right to begin with. But it’s a real relief.” — manager Joe Girardi
Up next: Nick Castellanos is slated to play left field in his Phillies spring-training debut at 1:07 p.m. Sunday against the Blue Jays in Dunedin, Fla. The game will air on WIP-FM (94.1).