CLEARWATER, Fla. — It’s the evergreen storyline in Phillies camp: Who will be in center field?
Matt Vierling is poised to end the debate.
Joe Girardi conceded Friday that the Phillies may give Vierling a chance to play every day, and the 25-year-old rookie bolstered his case in a 6-5 victory here by clocking a bases-clearing double against Yankees right-hander Luis Severino and making a diving catch.
“He’s kind of gotten it going,” Girardi said. “He hits the ball hard. He squared up three balls today.”
On the mound: New closer Corey Knebel threw a scoreless inning, while recently acquired Jeurys Familia and Brad Hand were each tagged for a run on two hits. But Seranthony Domínguez was once again the Phillies’ most impressive reliever, touching 96 mph and racking up two strikeouts in a dominant inning.
Who stood out: Shortstop prospect Bryson Stott collected two hits, but neither represented his most impressive plate appearance. Stott, a left-handed hitter, worked a six-pitch walk against hard-throwing Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman, as tough a lefty as he will face. “That’s not an easy at-bat,” Girardi said. “I just love the way he swung the bat today.”
Etc.: It was a good day for Alec Bohm in his pursuit of the third base job. With two on and two out in the first inning, he charged Gleyber Torres’ slow roller and made a strong throw to first base. Bohm also drew a walk and doubled to center field. ... Bryce Harper ended the fifth inning by cutting down DJ LeMahieu at the plate on a single by Isiah Kiner-Falefa.
Quotable: “It’s easy to forget it’s spring training for these guys, too, behind the plate. And you never want to act like [umpiring] is not a tough job because it is. I don’t know exactly how many he missed or got right or whatever. You have to keep your mind locked in.” — Kyle Gibson on home-plate umpire Roberto Ortiz’s tight strike zone in a 26-pitch first inning. Gibson left the game after getting two outs, then re-entered in the second inning.
Up next: Zach Eflin, who had left knee surgery six months ago, will make his first start since July 16 when the Phillies face the Tigers at 1:05 p.m. Saturday in Lakeland. The game will air on 94 WIP.