Sunday, February 28, 2016

Duo impresses during Phillies' win against University of Tampa

Jeremy Hellickson and Aaron Nola threw a combined 18 pitches in two perfect innings for the Phillies on Sunday at Bright House Field.
Their performances in an 8-3 victory against the University of Tampa meant little in the long run, but they are worth noting because one of the two pitchers is expected to be the Phillies' Opening Day starter on April 4 against the Reds in Cincinnati. The runner-up is expected to pitch the second game of the season on April 6, which would not be a bad consolation prize: He would also be in line to pitch the homer opener April 11 against the Padres.
"Yeah, I'd absolutely love the honor, but it doesn't matter one bit," Hellickson said about pitching Opening Day. "We're going to need all five guys to pitch how we're capable of pitching. I don't really think it matters who starts it off, but at the same time, it's a goal and it'd be fun."
"It'd be a cool thing," Nola said. "If you haven't done it before, if you haven't had an Opening Day start in your career, it would definitely be cool. But wherever they have me, I'm going to go out there and compete."
Nola said he would understand if the Phillies told him they preferred to ease him into the season, giving the nod to the more experienced Hellickson, who won the 2011 American League Rookie of the Year Award.
"Being on the field and competing against the batters, trying to get a win for the team, that's the focus," Nola said.
Hellickson, 28, went 9-12 with a 4.62 ERA in 27 starts last season with the D-backs. He has a 4.86 ERA in 72 appearances (71 starts) the past three seasons. The Phillies acquired him in an offseason trade with Arizona because they consider him a solid bounce-back candidate and they needed a veteran presence in the rotation.
Hellickson certainly has motivation to pitch well. He will become a free agent following the season, so a big year would help him on the open market. And if he pitches well, the Phillies could potentially deal him before the non-waiver Trade Deadline.
"I just really need to get back to being consistent," Hellickson said. "The last couple years I feel like I've thrown better than what the numbers said at the end, but my bad ones were just really, really bad. I couldn't stop the bleeding in those big innings. I've just got to be better out of the stretch with guys on base. Just be more consistent every five days. I can't give up one in seven [innings] one game and then give up five in three the next."
Nola threw fastballs and curveballs in his short stint, although he said he will be making a concerted effort to improve his changeup this spring.

Spartans Fall To Phillies In MLB Exhibition

 Major League Baseball Spring Training action started on Sunday afternoon as the University of Tampa Spartans faced off against the Philadelphia Phillies in an exhibition matchup. After falling to the Spartans last season, the Phillies came out on top this year with an 8-3 victory. 
The Spartans came into this game with a record of 11-1, after sweeping Barry in a three-game series. 
Junior Christopher Williams drew the start for the Spartans, as the righty went two innings, allowing four runs. 
Chris McCormick came in relief for UT, as the righty went one inning, allowing three runs. 
Following McCormick was Conner Andrews. Andrews went three complete innings, allowing just one run on two hits, while recording three strikeouts. 
Cody Martin came into the game in the eighth inning as the righty threw a perfect inning recording one strikeout. 
As a staff, UT allowed nine hits, all which were single. The Spartans were also able to record four strikeouts.
The Phillies wasted no time getting on the board this year as they came out swinging and scored three first-inning runs and adding another run in the bottom of the second to jump out to a quick 4-0 lead. 
In the top half of the third inning, Cody deNoyelles and Zion Bell led the inning off with back-to-back singles. Following the base hits, catcher Michael Kleinman hit a double down the left field line to bring in deNoyelles and Bell bringing the Spartans within two runs at 4-2. Kleinman would then come around to score on an RBI groundout by Danny Lee to make the game 4-3 after three innings. 
Philadelphia would quickly respond to the Tampa rally scoring three runs of their own off relief pitcher McCormick. The Phillies would score the three runs after a bases-loaded hit by pitch and a two-RBI single. McCormick would then get the next three batters to fly out to end the inning. 
Philly would then add the eighth run of the game in the fifth inning on an RBI single up the middle. 
Matt Piatt had a big day at the plate, as he went 2-for-3 in the game including a double. Vincent Minet also recorded a pinch-hit single in his lone at-bat for the day.
The Spartans will be back in action on Thursday, March 3rd as they take on Seton Hill University. First pitch is scheduled for 3:00 pm.