CLEARWATER, Fla. - The Phillies are at the point in spring training when their relievers pitch back-to-back days to build arm strength for the season. Jake Diekman, in this particular case, is especially thankful he pitches again Saturday.
"If I could, I'd be pitching right now," he said Friday after allowing seven runs on six hits in just 1/3 of an inning against the New York Yankees. "That was terrible."
A brutal fifth inning of a rain-shortened 10-0 Phillies' loss ballooned Diekman's spring ERA to 12.27. The hard-throwing lefthanded reliever fell behind in counts and "every strike that I threw they pretty much took a good swing on it," he said. He gave up six singles and a double.
Diekman took no solace in the fact it was only a spring training game. Perhaps the 28-year-old was just a tad hard on himself when he declared it "the worst outing in the history of the world."
"Once I leave the field, this outing's over," he added. "That's embarrassing. That's all I can say. It's unbelievable."
Diekman's struggles came a day after Ken Giles allowed four runs in 2/3 of an inning.
"I think Giles and Diekman are two guys that feed off of adrenaline in big-game situations, which maybe you could say that's lacking in a spring training game," manager Ryne Sandberg said. "They're fine. They're working on things."
J.P. Crawford was turning double plays in pregame infield practice Tuesday when he felt a sharp pain. When the Phillies' top prospect felt it again in that afternoon's minor-league game, he took himself out.
A left oblique strain, the first injury of Crawford's professional career, will restrict the touted shortstop from baseball activities for probably the next week. He will be sidelined from games for four to six weeks.
"It's definitely frustrating," Crawford said Friday.
Entering spring training, Crawford was likely to open April with high-A Clearwater with a chance to advance to double-A Reading within the season's first few months. Now the 20-year-old's season will start a bit later; he will remain in Clearwater to rehab when the other 140-plus minor leaguers join the various affiliates.
Domonic Brown (left Achilles tendinitis) hit again in the batting cages Friday and shagged fly balls. "It could be unlikely" he catches up by opening day, Sandberg noted. ... Cody Asche (back tightness) will miss his third straight game Saturday but might play in a minor-league game depending on how he feels.