3/3/2014 5:59 P.M. ET
Hernandez finds success sticking to simple mantra
By Todd Zolecki / MLB.com
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Roberto Hernandez's mantra is simple: Keep the ball down.
He struggled to stay true to that in his Grapefruit League debut on Wednesday, when he got roughed up in two innings, but he fared much better on Monday afternoon in a 6-1 loss to the Rays at Charlotte Sports Park. He allowed just one hit and struck out three in three scoreless innings.
"I worked in my last bullpen at keeping the ball down," Hernandez said. "That's what I did. Keep the ball down. Don't overthrow. That's what I did and why I had everything working today."
Hernandez threw more sinkers Monday, instead of more four-seam fastballs like Wednesday.
"Every pitch felt good," he said.
Cedeno scratched Monday with lower-back tightness
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Ronny Cedeno has a chance to win a utility infield job, but he needs to play to have any shot at unseating Freddy Galvis or Kevin Frandsen.
He was a late scratch in Monday's 6-1 loss to the Rays at Charlotte Sports Park after feeling tightness in his lower back. He said it is the first time he has had a back issue this spring.
"I don't want to push it and get hurt," he said. "I want to take care of it, feel better in a couple days and be ready."
Cedeno, 31, has played with the Cubs, Mariners, Pirates, Mets, Astros and Padres over a nine-year career. He has hit .246 with a .644 OPS, but his value is his defense and ability to play nearly everywhere. He has spent most of his career at shortstop, but he has also played the other three infield positions, plus the outfield.
Sandberg disappointed in attempted swipe tag
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- There are new rules about catchers blocking home plate, and the Phillies have covered how they want their catchers to handle those situations numerous times.
So Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg did not like what he saw from catcher Lou Marson in the seventh inning of Monday's 6-1 loss to the Rays at Charlotte Sports Park. Rays designated hitter Vince Belnome hit a ground ball to Phillies first baseman Darin Ruf with runners on second and third with one out. Ruf made a nice throw home and Marson was in front of the plate, but Justin Christian avoided the attempted swipe tag and scored. The inning got worse from there, with the Rays scoring four more runs.
"That's an example of how we're not going to do it," Sandberg said. "You've got the ball, you block the plate and he doesn't score. So that was an example of how not to do it. [Pitcher Michael Stutes] is out of the inning and it's a whole different thing. So that was not a good play."
Asked if catchers could still be trying to figure out the new rules, Sandberg said, "We've covered it five, six times. We've covered it for two weeks. That's a swipe tag. We don't want a swipe tag right there. He's got the ball. He's got 10 or 12 feet to play with. He's got the ball. In any situation, you block the plate. It was bad technique at home plate."
• Right-hander Stutes was a valuable member of the 2011 bullpen, making 57 appearances. But he has spent the past two seasons recovering from right shoulder problems. It has affected his velocity. His fastball, which averaged 93 mph in 2011, sat in the 88-89-mph range on Monday.
"It looks like he's still on his way to come back," Sandberg said. "His velocity is down right now from where it was then. He's still coming back from that injury. The lack of velocity shows that."
• Maikel Franco went 2-for-4 and Ruf went 1-for-3 on Monday. Ruf is hitting .308 this spring.
"That's two days in the row he's hit a couple of vicious, vicious line drives," Sandberg said of Franco. "I just see him adjusting pitch to pitch. He'll see one pitch, and later on, whether it's that at-bat or later in the game, I see him adjust to the pitch. He's been good. And Darin Ruf continues to have quality at-bats. That last one where he hit a slider to right field [in the eighth], that's just a nice piece of hitting."
• Sandberg complimented how backup catcher Wil Nieves worked with pitchers early in the game.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.