For Phillies' Nola, it's a start
Aaron Nola, a top prospect who has performed well in the minor leagues, will start against the Yankees on Friday.
CLEARWATER, Fla. - Aaron Nola pitched three scoreless innings in a minor league game on Sunday afternoon and received a promotion less than 24 hours later.
Actually, it was more a spring training award. But it certainly puts the 2014 first-round pick onto the major league radar.
Nola will start on Friday afternoon at Bright House Field against the New York Yankees, the Phillies announced yesterday morning. The 21-year-old righthander was the seventh overall pick in last June's amateur draft.
"I'm looking forward to that," said manager Ryne Sandberg, who had Nola recently work with the major league team in a hit-and-run drill at the Carpenter Complex. "It's an opportunity for him to experience major league camp and pitching in a major league game."
Nola will remain in minor league camp for what remains of spring training.
Friday's game is basically a cameo given to a minor league player as a reward for his work. Former pitching prospects Cole Hamels and Andrew Carpenter pitched in similar spring cameos as minor leaguers in the Phillies' system.
Nola won't be the only pitcher to get the experience this spring - or even the first. Severino Gonzalez will start against the Atlanta Braves this afternoon in Lake Buena Vista.
Gonzalez, 22, was a Paul Owens Award winner as the Phillies' minor league pitcher of the year in 2013. Last season, Gonzalez went 9-13 with a 4.60 ERA in 27 starts at Double A Reading.
Nola went 2-0 with a 2.62 ERA in five starts at Reading after beginning his professional career going 2-3 with a 3.16 ERA in seven games at Class A Clearwater last summer.
"It's just allowing a guy like Nola to experience that and really show what he can do in this environment," Sandberg said. "It goes a long way with development going down the road. I think it'll be a good experience for him."
Nola will likely begin the 2014 season at Double A Reading.
While the Phillies get a look at two pitching prospects, two members of their projected Opening Day staff could see action in minor league games this spring. Aaron Harang, who has missed two starts this spring with back issues, will pitch in a minor league game in Clearwater today, and Jerome Williams could follow that route Friday, his next scheduled day to pitch.
After a brief delay due to rain, and before the Phillies and Twins took the field, the managers of each team, Ryne Sandberg and Paul Molitor, threw out ceremonial first pitches simultaneously at Bright House Field yesterday afternoon.
According to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, it marked the first time two Hall of Famers have managed against each other in baseball history.
For whatever reason, few Hall of Fame players have gone on to work as managers. While Ted Williams managed for four seasons, Babe Ruth wanted the opportunity but never got the chance and, more recently, Mike Schmidt gave up on the big-league pursuit after one season at Class A Clearwater.
"One of the theories I hear often is players that played at a high standard don't have the patience to deal with people that can't meet those standards," said Molitor, in his first season with the Twins. "But I don't see that at all. It's kind of how you're wired, what your passion is, and that's putting your time in when you get the opportunity."
Said Sandberg: "I think in the past there have been some Hall of Famers that wanted to manage or coach at the major league level but not go through the channels to earn that right. So, for me, I had to go for experience for myself, but also I think to earn the right. Just as a rookie minor league player coming up through the minor leagues in order to get to the major leagues. For me, it was helpful. That was the route I needed to take."
Mario Hollands has an appointment this afternoon in Philadelphia with Phillies team doctor Michael Ciccotti. He could find out today whether or not he'll have to undergo surgery.
Hollands was diagnosed with a strain of his left common flexor tendon after an MRI this weekend. It's the same injury Cliff Lee was diagnosed with, and every doctor Lee consulted recommended surgery - although the 36-year-old has decided against that option for at least a few months.
Hollands is 10 years younger than Lee.
"They kind of laid out all of the possibilities, so I'm aware of it, but I'm hoping not," Hollands said of surgery, which would end his 2015 season. "I'm really hoping not because I don't want surgery of any kind. If it happens, it's unfortunate, but I'm still banking on I won't have to."
Doc gives A-Rod a shot
Often stoic and businesslike during his playing days, former Phillies pitcher Roy Halladay has let his personality out since joining Twitter last spring. Yesterday, he sent out a tweet that quickly went viral.
Halladay took a shot at long-time American League East foe Alex Rodriguez. He tweeted a photo of himself pitching to an elderly woman.
"I recorded my first strikeout since retirement!" Halladay tweeted. "Time for a comeback? She has a better swing then Arod! No steroids."
Halladay faced only six hitters more often than Rodriguez in his career. A-Rod hit .299 (23-for-77) with one home run and seven doubles, while striking out 14 times, against Halladay in lifetime matchups.
Domonic Brown remains sidelined with left Achilles' tendinitis. Ryne Sandberg said Brown's activity yesterday was limited to playing catch. There is no timetable for his return, although the team said last week Brown could miss as much as a week of action . . . Cody Asche hit his third home run of the spring - and third in the last five games - in the Phillies' 3-0 win over the Twins yesterday . . . David Buchanan held the Twins to two hits while striking out three and walking no one in five shutout innings, lowering his spring ERA to 1.69 in five games . . . Odubel Herrera started in centerfield for the third straight game, with 2014 Opening Day centerfielder Ben Revere starting in left. The two hit at the top of the lineup, with Revere leading off. Both went 1-for-4 with a single. Herrera collected his fifth stolen base of the spring.