3/16/2014 6:02 P.M. ET
Gwynn's defense, versatility may help him onto roster
By Todd Zolecki / MLB.com
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The Phillies need to finalize their bench before Opening Day on March 31, and Tony Gwynn Jr. is making a case to be one of the team's extra outfielders.
He went 2-for-4 in Sunday's 5-0 loss to the Pirates at Bright House Field. He is hitting .273 (6-for-22) with two doubles, one RBI, five walks, two stolen bases and a .448 on-base percentage. He has particularly impressed Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg with his defense, which is something the Phillies could use.
"I think that's his strength, his outfield defense at three outfield positions," Sandberg said. "I like what he's doing. When you're talking about a late-inning defensive guy, a big bunt late in the game, pinch-running and stealing a base, all those things. He can definitely play center field as a starter. He's doing a good job. He's fighting for a job."
The Phillies are likely to carry an extra hitter at the beginning of the season, because they do not need five starters until April 14, which is 13 games into the season. Catcher Wil Nieves and infielder Freddy Galvis are locks. Infielder Kevin Frandsen is a smart bet. That would leave two spots for outfielders Gwynn, Bobby Abreu, John Mayberry Jr. and Darin Ruf.
Gwynn and Abreu are the only two left-handed bats in that equation. It could be one or the other, although Sandberg indicated there are roles for both.
"Sometimes there's two jobs there," Sandberg said. "There's a left-handed bat off the bench with pop, the ability to drive in two runs. That's a guy. Then there's a guy that goes in, pinch-runs, gets into scoring position and is the guy that scores the run with a stolen base, scores from first on a double, scores from second easily. For me there's two jobs there in some ways. Now if you have a right-handed bat that handles right-handed and left-handed pitching, that's a guy.
"I think Gwynn is a nice piece in a National League game with all the things he does."
Hamels confident after Sunday 'pen session
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Check back later this week, but Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels brimmed with confidence following Sunday's bullpen session at Bright House Field.
He threw 27 pitches at about 70 percent as he recovers from a left shoulder issue that put him several weeks behind schedule. Hamels said he hopes to throw again Wednesday, then possibly face hitters after that.
"I was really thoroughly impressed with the way I've been feeling all week," he said. "The past couple days with recovering and still being able to maintain the exercises and the strength program without any hiccups or even having to take it back a notch, I've really been able to bounce back really well."
Keep in mind that Hamels seemed to be progressing nicely earlier this month before he suffered a setback. His arm felt fatigued as a result of pushing too hard too fast and being unable to build strength as he would during a typical offseason.
He indicated this time is different.
"Ultimately, my strength is now there," he said. "I can throw at the distance I know I'm capable of throwing. I could probably throw more. Having that and throwing with the right type of intensity, then it leads right into the mound.
"The plan is to go Wednesday. A 'pen. And then, from there, get right into batting practice. So, I'm really looking forward to this week. This is going to be a big week with some big stepping stones. I know with everything we've been able to do, the way I've been able to recover and gain the strength necessary to do it, I'm really pleased."
Five batters hit by pitches in Sunday's game
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The Phillies and Pirates have played three Grapefruit League games this spring, and the Phillies have been hit by pitches seven times, while the Pirates have been hit five times.
It made for a relatively interesting few minutes in the Phillies' 5-0 loss to Pittsburgh on Sunday at Bright House Field. Phillies right-hander Sean O'Sullivan hit Neil Walker with a pitch in the third inning, and Pirates pitcher Adam Wilk hit John Mayberry Jr. in the bottom of the third. Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon then drilled Starling Marte in the middle of the back in the fifth. A couple batters later, Papelbon came high and inside a couple times to Andrew McCutchen.
Pirates right-hander Bryan Morris promptly drilled Phillies third baseman Cody Asche in the bottom of the fifth, which forced home-plate umpire Tom Hallion to warn both dugouts.
In the seventh, the Phillies' Antonio Bastardo plunked Josh Harrison after Walker's solo home run, which was considered incidental enough not to trigger discipline.
"No chance," said Papelbon, when asked if those pitches carried any purpose. "Did you see the way I was throwing? I wasn't really hitting my spots, was I? I felt good, and I wanted to throw hard. Of course, I have [my teammates' backs], but it's Spring Training, man."
Said Phillies pitching coach Bob McClure, "I think we've hit four or five of their guys coming inside, trying to keep them off the plate. They've tried the same thing. When you look at that, I don't think there's any purpose behind that at all."
Asked if he is happy with the way his pitchers have stood up for his hitters, Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said, "Well, our pitchers will protect our hitters."
• Setup man Mike Adams is scheduled to pitch in a Minor League game on Wednesday. He is recovering from right shoulder surgery.
• Right-hander Jonathan Pettibone is scheduled to pitch in a Minor League game on Monday.
• Right-hander Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez has been sidelined with soreness in the front of his right shoulder. He could begin throwing Tuesday. Pitching coach Bob McClure described the soreness as "minimal."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.