3/19/2014 5:44 P.M. ET
Offense still a work in progress for Phillies
By Todd Zolecki / MLB.com
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- If Phillies fans have looked for reassurance this spring from Phillies hitters, they have not found it.
Jimmy Rollins finished Wednesday's 11-6 loss to the Blue Jays at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium hitting .115 (3-for-26) with one home run. Some of his teammates expected to be in the Opening Day lineup have not fared much better: Chase Utley (.167, no extra-base hits), Domonic Brown (.171, one extra-base hit) and Cody Asche (.161, two doubles, two home runs).
As a team, the Phillies entered Wednesday hitting .211, which was the lowest mark in baseball. Their .614 OPS also ranked last.
These numbers will be long forgotten in a month, but coming off a season in which the Phillies scored the fourth-fewest runs in baseball, a few more positive signs would be welcome.
"Jimmy is fine," general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "We've got to get Jimmy going offensively, like we do with the rest of the guys. He's not in a rhythm. Chase isn't in a rhythm. We fully expect him to be there. We've got time to get some reps here and to get their mechanics together and get going. Clearly, we have not played well offensively. That's something that's important to us. We've got to be better there. But I expect these guys to get their reps here at the very end. I'm more concerned about how we're playing leading up to March 31 than what happened early in the spring."
Is he anxious to see it?
"I'm always anxious," Amaro said. "Why would I not be anxious? … [But] is anybody panicking about the fact David Ortiz is hitting .090? Seriously, he's one of the best hitters in the game."
But Ortiz is coming off a fantastic season, and a series of successful seasons. Rollins, Howard and others are not.
"Really what matters is, not necessarily how they're producing in Spring Training, but whether they are ready, physically, to produce," Amaro said. "That's what I'm most concerned about. And of course, I'm concerned about it. This is important to us. It's important for us to play well when the bell rings."
Marlon Byrd is hitting .343 with three doubles, one home run and seven RBIs. Ben Revere is hitting .342. Carlos Ruiz has been hitting the ball hard recently. He ripped a double to center field in the sixth inning to raise his average to .286. Ryan Howard used two singles to raise his average to .275, although he has struck out 15 times in 40 at-bats.
"Howie is coming along," manager Ryne Sandberg said about Howard. "Asche hit a [home run] today. He's had better at-bats. I see some guys coming around, and that's what we're going to need in these last [Spring Training] games. We haven't clicked together as a group, but I still look at the potential that's there. I lean on that and I feel good about that."
Bullpen session a positive step for Hamels
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Cole Hamels called this a big week, and Wednesday represented another step forward for him.
Hamels threw 40-plus pitches in a bullpen session in the morning at Bright House Field. If he feels OK on Thursday, he is expected to throw to hitters in a live batting practice session Saturday. Hamels expects to throw one more live BP after that before potentially pitching in a game.
"It went really well," Hamels said of his bullpen session. "I'm pleased, being able to build my pitch count, getting the reps I need. I was able to get a lot of pitches out of the stretch, and I introduced the windup, which I haven't done since last year. Getting familiar with that again and being able to build the reps from there, it's obviously a step in the right direction."
Hamels is weeks behind schedule and will open the season on the disabled list. He suffered inflammation in his left shoulder in November, which halted his normal offseason throwing and strengthening programs. He appeared to be recovering nicely earlier this month before suffering a setback, saying his arm felt fatigued.
Hamels said he has most of his total body strength back -- about 90 percent in his estimations -- which will allow him to continue without further setbacks.
"It's that last 10 percent that really takes a little bit longer," Hamels said. "But at the same time, when you're able to get it, it's there. It's there for the long haul.
"We've been staying on the safe side. I think -- seeing how I've been able to feel, how I've been able to respond -- we can get a little more aggressive. Ultimately, we'll always be cautious and on the safe side to get ready for games."
Abreu remains in mix for bench job
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Bobby Abreu continues to fight for a bench job.
He walked twice in three plate appearances in Wednesday's 11-6 loss to the Blue Jays at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium. He is hitting .214 (6-for-28) with two doubles, one triple and a team-high nine walks. He has a .421 on-base percentage.
"You know, he gives quality at-bats," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. "He's drawn a lot of walks. In some regards, the walks, he hasn't had a chance to swing and get hits in those at-bats. But he's on base and he has good at-bats and he continues to do that, so that's a good thing."
But Abreu will need to play in the field at times. He can only play right field.
"I'd say that he's been adequate out there," Sandberg said. "He just needs to get some more reps out there, and I need to get him some chances out there."
Hernandez chalks up outing to 'bad day'
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Phillies right-hander Roberto Hernandez threw five perfect innings last week against the Yankees.
He suffered far different results Wednesday.
"Everybody has a bad day," Hernandez said after allowing 11 hits and seven runs in 3 2/3 innings against the Blue Jays at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium.
Hernandez had trouble keeping the ball down in the strike zone, and his pitches were flat as his mechanics were out of whack. Overall, however, he said he likes the way his spring has gone so far. He is 1-1 with a 5.29 ERA.
"[Pitching coach] Bob [McClure] said he didn't have a real good warmup," manager Ryne Sandberg said. "He didn't quite have his two-seam fastball working. He had some ground balls that found some holes, but then they took advantage of first-pitch fastball swinging."
• Setup man Mike Adams threw one inning in a Minor League game at Carpenter Complex. It was his first game action since having right shoulder surgery in July. Adams is scheduled to pitch again Saturday. He told The Philadelphia Inquirer he hopes to return by April 15.
• Infielder Freddy Galvis could be sidelined until Friday. He had an abscess on his left knee removed.
• Brown and right-hander Justin De Fratus were out Wednesday with the flu. It also claimed head athletic trainer Scott Sheridan.
• The Phillies returned Kevin Munson to the D-backs on Tuesday. The right-hander, a Rule 5 Draft pick, walked eight batters in seven innings.
"We liked the arm and we liked the player," Amaro said. "We just felt like he wasn't going to be able to compete for one of our spots at this stage of the game. We've got to get some other guys some reps and see how the rest of the bullpen shakes out."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.