CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The Phillies entered Friday's Grapefruit League game against the Red Sox with a 6-14-2 record, the lowest OPS in baseball and a pitching staff that ranked 21st in ERA.
Reports from scouts have not been glowing.
"We haven't hit the ball as well as we would like, but we're seeing some positive things about our pitching," Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "Some guys are stepping up, guys like [Mario] Hollands and [Jeff] Manship and [David] Buchanan. Those guys have added to depth issues we might have had because of the injuries we've had. So there are some positives there.
"I think [Cody] Asche is starting to play better, a little bit more relaxed, and he's swinging the bat a little bit better. Ben Revere has been outstanding. He's had a very good spring. Guys like Tony Gwynn and others have stepped up. There are some positive things going on, too."
But the Phillies still need Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins to get them to a World Series. They are hitting a combined .197 (24-for-122) with three doubles, two home runs, 11 RBIs, nine walks and 29 strikeouts.
"We've got to get those guys going on all cylinders," Amaro said. "With veteran guys, sometimes it takes time for them to get their rhythm. I know Chase is still working on his timing. I know Howard is still working on some of his mechanics. He hasn't played in a while, so he's still getting his mechanics together with his swing. Jimmy has got to get reps and get ready to go.
"Chooch [Carlos Ruiz] has had a pretty good spring for us and done well. We need him to produce and Brownie [Domonic Brown] has been sick, so we need to get him back on the field and playing. I think there are some positives. We just have to get our veteran guys going. We'll sink and swim with those guys."
Lee has striking performance against Red Sox
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Just another afternoon for Phillies left-hander Cliff Lee.
Lee allowed three hits, two runs, one walk and struck out six in six innings on Friday in a 2-2 tie against the Red Sox at Bright House Field. He threw 35 consecutive strikes at one point, showing there is no reason not to attack the strike zone.
"Obviously with their lineup, defending world champions, you have to stay on top of things or it can get really bad really quick," said Lee, who faced Boston last weekend in Fort Myers. "It felt more like a big league game. It was good to face some of their guys again."
Lee has a 2.75 ERA in five Grapefruit League starts. He will start one more game before the season opener March 31 in Texas.
Abreu getting closer to securing roster spot
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Even before Darin Ruf strained his left oblique Thursday, Bobby Abreu stood a good chance to make the Opening Day roster as a reserve outfielder.
Abreu is hitting .273 (9-for-33) with three doubles, one triple, one RBI, nine walks and three strikeouts.
"Bobby was a crapshoot when he came in," Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "He was coming in after not playing [in the big leagues last season]. He's 40 years old. You just don't know what you're going to get out of him. So far, he's played pretty darn well. He's at least putting himself in position to battle for a job, and that's all he really wanted.
"Nothing has been etched in stone, as far as him making the club, but he's played well for us. He's swinging the bat well. He moved pretty well in the outfield. Again, we're still taking a look at what he can do, what other guys can do, and how we'll constitute the bench and the rest of the club. But he's made a decent impression so far. He hasn't done anything to make us think he absolutely can't help us."
Gonzalez has cortisone shot for sore shoulder
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The Phillies considered Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez fit and ready to pitch this spring.
But he experienced some tightness in his right arm early in camp before coming up recently with a sore shoulder. He had been throwing Thursday when he felt pain in the front of the shoulder. He received a cortisone injection Friday.
"We had to give him an injection to see if we could get him over the top here," Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "We'll see where it goes from there. He had no issues at all when he was rehabbing and throwing."
Gonzalez, who signed a $12 million contract in August, will not throw for several days. But even when he does, and whenever he is finally ready for game action, it will be in the Minor Leagues.
• Left-hander Cole Hamels is scheduled to throw a live batting practice session Saturday. Right-handers Mike Adams and Jonathan Pettibone are scheduled to pitch in a Minor League game. They are all behind schedule because of shoulder injuries.
• Third baseman Maikel Franco left camp Friday because of the flu. Domonic Brown remains out with the flu.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.