LAKELAND, Fla. - Maikel Franco went 0 for 3 Saturday, dropping his batting average this spring to .182. The 22-year-old has just four hits in 22 at-bats. A competition with Cody Asche at third base appears nonexistent.
"For him to break into the league, he needs to hit for an average and use the whole field, in my opinion," manager Ryne Sandberg said. "That's what has been talked about with him. He looks like he's overswinging."
Franco debuted in the majors last September, playing in 19 games and hitting .211. He had hit .324 the previous two months at triple A, which is where he could open the season for a second straight year.
"He needs to make some adjustments," Sandberg said. "I saw some of the same approaches and same swings last year in September."
Ken Giles had good command of his fastball and used a sharp slider to pitch a perfect eighth inning in the Phillies' 5-4 win over the Tigers. The 24-year-old righthander hit 95 m.p.h. on the radar gun as his velocity continues to build.
Giles earned his first strikeout by making Shane Zeile chase a slider that broke across the plate. His second strikeout came when Raph Rhymes watched his fastball pass by. Giles set up the fastball by throwing his slider a pitch earlier.
"You saw it last year. The slider was the biggest key," Giles said. "It was already as nasty as it was. Now I just want to perfect it even more and command it even better."
Giles has allowed one run in three innings this spring. He has struck out three batters and allowed just one hit. Giles, Justin De Fratus, and Jake Diekman - the Phillies' young bullpen core - have combined for nine strikeouts and a 2.00 ERA this spring.
The Phillies will play two games Sunday, with half the team traveling to Tampa to play the New York Yankees as the rest stay behind to host the Boston Red Sox.
Sean O'Sullivan is slated to start in Tampa with Kevin Slowey coming on in relief. Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez will start at home with Jonathan Papelbon following. Chase Utley will play in his second spring game, batting fourth as the designated hitter in Clearwater. Larry Bowa will manage the team against the Yankees.
- Matt Breen