3/8/2014 7:53 P.M. ET
Phillies break out of offensive funk vs. Astros
By Paul Hagen / MLB.com
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Coming into Saturday's game against an Astros split squad, the Phillies were batting .189 as a team. So an 11-3 win at Bright House Field was welcome for more reasons than one.
"That goes a long way to loosening everybody up," said manager Ryne Sandberg. "It all started with [third baseman Cody] Asche. Good swings in three good at-bats. So that was good."
Asche, who was leading off for the first time and had a double and a three-run homer, came into the game batting .067.
"I just wanted to give him maybe a little different mindset. Leadoff hitter. Quality at-bats. Get on base," Sandberg said. "I thought he hit the ball well [lining out] to left-center in his first at-bat. A little shakeup just to change the mindset a little bit."
Catcher Carlos Ruiz raised his Grapefruit League average to .385 with a single and a home run.
"He was a big guy over the offseason to bring back [when he became a free agent], not only for what he does behind the plate but his right-handed bat," Sandberg said.
"He was behind last year until the last four or five weeks [after sitting out a 25-game suspension]. I just see with the early power and his batting practice and being in shape, that goes a long way. He's a guy who could possibly bat fourth or fifth. He's that type of hitter. When he's going right, he's a big bat in the lineup."
Adams happy with progress after second 'pen session
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Setup reliever Mike Adams, who is coming off right shoulder surgery, threw off the mound for the second time Saturday morning and said he is ready to face hitters in live batting practice.
"I think it went real good -- very, very good," said Adams. "I've noticed the advances I've made over the last couple bullpens and how it's coming out of my hand. Right now, everything is going the way I'd hoped."
Adams threw on the half-field outside Bright House Field as general manager Ruben Amaro Jr., pitching coach Bob McClure, bullpen coach Rod Nichols, Triple-A Lehigh Valley pitching coach Ray Burris and Spring Training guest instructor Brad Lidge looked on.
Adams said he was much less tentative than he had been in his first side session.
"Now it's more of, 'OK, let's get this going. Let's get this done,'" Adams said. "This time it felt like it had a little more oomph to it. Now the next step is live BP, and hopefully the juices will get going with that one."
Adams is expected to face hitters for the first time Thursday.
"I have normal shoulder soreness," he said. "I'm not expecting it to be zero soreness or anything like that. When you get on the mound you're going to have some soreness. But nothing out of the ordinary.
"Everything is exactly how it should be. Tomorrow I'm sure I'll be pretty sore, but hopefully it will just be the regular pitching soreness and we'll keep going."
Stutes, Biddle among Phillies' first spring cuts
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Right-hander Michael Stutes and left-hander Jesse Biddle were among the first players cut as the Phillies reduced their roster Saturday. Stutes made 57 relief appearances in 2011 but has battled injuries since. Biddle is rated the Phillies' top pitching prospect by MLB.com.
Stutes and right-hander Luis Garcia were optioned to Minor League camp. Biddle, outfielders Aaron Alther, Kelly Dugan and Leandro Castro and catcher Sebastian Valle were reassigned to the complex.
Biddle, 22, was in big league camp for the first time. He had a 12.00 ERA in two relief appearances and will now have the opportunity to get stretched out.
"I've learned a lot from all these guys," he said. "There are a lot of positives that I've taken away from it.
"I know I'm not going to start in the big leagues this year, but my goal is to be here. So to just be able to show my face, show my work ethic, show the way I go about things is a good thing. But then also to be around the guys who are very successful. Getting one inning in a big league game [Saturday] is nice. But I'm a starter and I'd like to start some games and get my innings in. But whatever they want me to do is what I'm going to do. If they want me to play shortstop, I'll do it."
The 27-year-old Stutes admitted he was surprised to be sent out this early.
"I didn't expect it to be the first round," he said. "The last couple outings weren't what I expected. They weren't what they needed to be. I'm just trying to get my body back to where I need it to be to get people out. It just didn't work out."
"They [manager Ryne Sandberg and pitching coach Bob McClure] just said that I needed to work on keeping the ball down, getting ahead of hitters. That was the overall theme."
In three Grapefruit League appearances, he allowed seven earned runs in three innings.
Stutes, who has one more option, was asked if he's completely healthy after dealing with shoulder issues in 2012 and biceps tendinitis last season.
"I'll pass on that," he said.
The Phillies now have 51 players in camp, including 15 non-roster invitees.
Sandberg stresses fundamentals in morning drill
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- One day after manager Ryne Sandberg expressed disappointment in the Phillies' poor fundamentals during a loss to the Orioles, the staff and players spent part of Saturday morning working on outfield cutoffs and relays.
Coach Larry Bowa would call out the situation -- "Second and third, two outs" for example. Then a ball would be hit to the outfield and then the players had to decide how to execute the play -- what base to throw to, whether to cut it off, etc.
Sandberg said after Saturday's 11-3 win over an Astros split squad at Bright House Field that it was crucial to make a point.
"I think it's very important," he said. "[Friday's] game wasn't acceptable. We needed to do some work and I wanted to get that message across. It was a game-like drill with guys running the bases and sliding and repeating plays and stressing fundamental baseball. So I think it's very important."
• Infielder Freddy Galvis started in center Saturday. "I just want to see him at all the positions except pitcher and catcher," Sandberg said. "It's a long season and you never know. But it seems like everywhere I put him, the ball finds him and he's fine. He's a guy who gives me a lot of flexibility."
• Rule 5 right-hander Kevin Munson (1.50 ERA) has made a good early impression. "He's got a real heavy sinker. He could definitely take and use that in the big leagues," said pitching coach Bob McClure. "He just needs to calm down. He's pretty hyped up."
• The Phillies held their first annual Spring Training Alumni Day at Bright House Field on Saturday. More than 40 players were introduced before the game, including Dick Allen, Greg Luzinski, Jack Baldschun, Sixto Lezcano, Brad Lidge, Robert Person, Kent Tekulve and Darren Daulton. Some alumni also greeted fans and signed autographs.
Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.