3/7/2014 5:56 P.M. ET
Burnett: Rough start still 'step' in spring process
By Paul Hagen / MLB.com
SARASOTA, Fla. -- Right-hander A.J. Burnett said he was frustrated after giving up six runs on seven hits in just three innings in his Grapefruit League start against the Orioles on Friday at Ed Smith Stadium.
But not because of the ugly box score line.
"I've been doing this for a while. It ain't the first time I've given up six in the spring and it won't be the last. So it's a process for everybody. I don't look into it too much. It will come. It's always been there," said the 37-year-old, who was signed after the start of Spring Training to bolster the Phillies rotation.
"It's a step. It's not a step backwards."
The only part of Burnett's performance that bothered him was that he too often got ahead of hitters and then was unable to put them away. He hit two batters, Jemile Weeks and David Lough, on the foot with 0-2 curveballs.
"That's more frustrating," he said. "I want to see good results. But at the same time I have to check myself. Hey, it's three innings for the first time, second start. You've got to progress. Find the positives and work from there."
Said manager Ryne Sandberg after the 15-4 loss: "Overall, he got his work in. He was a little erratic with a couple breaking pitches he tried to get strikeouts on."
Sandberg, Phillies remaining patient with Gonzalez
SARASOTA, Fla. -- Two Grapefruit League outings haven't made right-hander Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez any less of a mystery to the Phillies.
The Cuban defector who signed a three-year, $12 million contract as a free agent needed 31 pitches to get through the fourth inning against the Orioles in Friday's 15-4 Grapefruit League loss at Ed Smith Stadium. He allowed four runs on four hits and two walks. His spring ERA is 16.88.
Until he pitched against the Yankees last Saturday, Gonzalez had not pitched competitively since early 2012. He subsequently had elbow surgery and was held back by arm tightness earlier this spring.
"I feel better with my location," Gonzalez said through interpreter Juan Samuel, the Phillies' third-base coach. "I feel comfortable. I feel good. I know I haven't pitched a whole lot."
Ryne Sandberg said it's difficult to assess Gonzalez.
"In some ways, from the get-go, it's been a process with him. Not just to see him, but to help him along and build him up and help him get ready for a baseball season. It's still an unknown and he's still in the process of getting rust off and trying to improve quality and have some outings. But he threw too many pitches in an inning there to allow him to go back out," the manager said.
Still, Sandberg isn't ready to concede that Gonzalez, who appears to be competing for the fifth spot in the rotation, won't be ready when the season starts.
"You know what? We're just going to be slow with him and adjust to what he does, help bring him along to get him ready for a baseball season."
Gonzalez said he would have liked to have pitched more than an inning.
"I'm here to pitch, to play baseball. Whatever decision they make, I'll go along with it. I would have loved to continue, but that was their plan," he said.
Asked what he thinks his situation is, he shrugged.
"Right now, I don't know," he said.
Sandberg unhappy with Phillies' lack of fundamentals
SARASOTA, Fla. -- The Phillies are 1-8-1 in the Grapefruit League after a 15-4 loss to the Orioles at Ed Smith Stadium on Friday. Ryne Sandberg isn't as unhappy about the defeats as he is about the way they've been occurring.
"We've got some work to do," the manager said. "As we have a chance to tighten up the squad and fine-tune some things down the road, we're looking towards that. But, yeah, we have some work to do. Just a lot of little things. The wind blowing. Players unaware of it. Bobbles on the infield. Cutoff throws coming in. Yeah, we've got a lot of work to do.
"We haven't been able to play nine innings of baseball without giving some extra outs or having a crooked number go up later in the game. So there are a lot of things that need to be ironed out to put together a game to give us a chance to win."
The Phillies made two errors, but mental mistakes and poor fundamentals have also been a continuing issue. The team batting average is .189, lowest of any team. The staff's ERA is 5.46. Six pitchers were used Friday and each gave up at least one run.
Sandberg was especially frustrated by Friday's game.
"This one wasn't pretty from the get-go and got uglier as we went. That's not good. We need to stress fundamental baseball, work at it, practice it. Hopefully just a throwaway kind type of a game. Back to work tomorrow and try and put a game together and get it going the other way," he said.
• Right-hander David Buchanan continued to impress.
"He threw well. A blooper to left and a chopper over the mound. He was scheduled for one inning, so he got his work in and showed his stuff. He was one of the bright spots of the day," Sandberg said.
The non-roster invitee now has to be considered a serious candidate for the fifth spot in the rotation.
"I really try not to pay attention to all that stuff," Buchanan said. "All those decisions are made above my head. So I just try to go out there every time and throw strikes and battle and give the team a chance to win. Make a good impression and whatever happens, happens."
• Friday's game was designated as a test for baseball's expanded replay system but neither manager, Sandberg nor the Orioles' Buck Showalter, challenged a call.
Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.