6/24/2014 9:24 P.M. ET
Top prospect Crawford, Franco part of Futures Game
By Todd Zolecki / MLB.com
PHILADELPHIA -- Phillies prospects J.P. Crawford and Maikel Franco were selected to play next month in the All-Star Futures Game in Minnesota.
Crawford, who was just promoted to Class A Clearwater, will be on the U.S. roster. Franco, who has struggled this season with Triple-A Lehigh Valley, will be on the World roster.
The 16th annual SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game will take place at 5 p.m. ET on Sunday, July 13, at Target Field in Minneapolis, and it can be seen live on MLB.com and MLB Network, and followed live on MLB.com's Gameday. In addition, XM Radio will broadcast play-by-play coverage of the event live on MLB Network Radio XM 89 and Sirius channel 209. MLB.com will also provide complete coverage before, during and after the game. Fans can stay updated by following @MLBFutures on Twitter and can send and receive tweets to and from the U.S. and World Team dugouts during the game by tagging tweets with the hashtags #USDugout and #WorldDugout.
Crawford is considered the organization's top prospect by MLB.com. The shortstop, who the Phillies drafted in the first round of the 2013 First-Year Player Draft, had a .295/.398/.405 line and 16 doubles, three home runs, 19 RBIs, 37 walks and 37 strikeouts with Class A Lakewood before a promotion to the Threshers.
Franco entered Spring Training with a chance to win a big league job, but he started the season with the IronPigs and has struggled. He is hitting .207 with 16 doubles, one triple, five home runs and 29 RBIs this season, although the Phillies still believe he has potential to be an everyday third baseman.
Phillies try to bolster outfield with Sizemore
PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies need some serious help in the outfield.
It is exactly why they signed Grady Sizemore to a Minor League contract on Tuesday after the Red Sox released him last Wednesday. Sizemore will report to Triple-A Lehigh Valley on Thursday. Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. confirmed that Sizemore has an out-clause in his contract. The Phils will have to bring Sizemore to the big leagues sometime in July or he can ask for his release.
"Well, I'd like to have more production in the outfield," Amaro said. "It's pretty simple. If we think after watching him play in Lehigh Valley, if we think he's going to help us, then we'll bring him. Really, this is a no-risk, high-reward situation for us."
Sizemore hit just .215 with 10 doubles, two triples, two home runs, 15 RBIs and a .612 OPS in 52 games before the Red Sox released him. Sizemore had been one of the better outfielders in baseball with the Indians from 2004-09 before seven surgeries for a variety of injuries limited him to 104 games in 2010-11 and kept him out of baseball in 2012-13.
"More than anything else, when you take that much time off, it takes a long time -- much longer than people think -- to get your feet back on the ground," Amaro said. "I know Boston gave him an opportunity to play. He had some level of success and then he did struggle at times. We'll see what he has in the tank. We believe in the athlete. We'll see what he has left."
There is reason to roll the dice. Phillies left fielders entered Tuesday 30th in baseball with a .578 OPS, and the club's center fielders were 27th with a .612 OPS. Individually, Domonic Brown was 162nd out of 167 qualified players with a .596 OPS. Ben Revere was 157th with a .615 OPS.
Marlon Byrd's .778 OPS was 63rd. He was on pace for 25 home runs and 93 RBIs.
Amaro said he thinks Sizemore can still play center field, although he will get a look at every outfield spot.
The Phillies expressed interest in Sizemore in the offseason, but did not want to offer him a big league contract.
"We were interested," Amaro said. "It didn't work out. But we'll get an opportunity to see how he's progressed. We'll see what happens. There's a chance we could get him back here in July at some point."
Lee throws 'pen session; next step simulated game
PHILADELPHIA -- Cliff Lee on Tuesday took another step toward his return to the Phillies' rotation.
Lee, who is on the disabled list with a strained left elbow, threw about 40-45 pitches in a bullpen session at Citizens Bank Park, splitting those pitches with a five-minute break to simulate rest between innings. The lefty said he felt fine and said he could throw a simulated game Friday or Saturday.
"No bad news," Lee said. "Feel fine. There's still barely something there, but it's not getting any worse. It's continuing to get better. I continue to do more and it's not going backwards, so that's a good thing."
Lee has said it is possible he could return before the All-Star break, but if not, it seems a smart bet he will be ready for the series immediately following the break July 18-20 in Atlanta.
Utley keeping big ballot lead despite recent struggles
PHILADELPHIA -- Chase Utley has a massive lead in All-Star voting among National League second basemen, but the Phillies second baseman is hoping to pick up his play before the All-Star break.
Utley entered Tuesday's game against the Marlins at Citizens Bank Park hitting .295 with 24 doubles, three triples, five home runs, 33 RBIs, a .357 on-base percentage and a .456 slugging percentage. But he is hitting just .215 with three extra-base hits and a .561 OPS since May 28.
"He's shown some good things in batting practice, and I think it's just a temporary thing," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. "I know that he feels healthy and feels strong, so I think it's just a matter of just being in a little bit of a funk with some timing things at home plate."
Fans can cast their votes for starters at MLB.com and all 30 club sites -- online or on a mobile device -- using the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot Sponsored by Experian until Thursday, July 3, at 11:59 p.m. ET. The 2014 All-Star Game will be played at Target Field on Tuesday, July 15.
Fans may submit up to 25 online ballots, but they can also earn a one-time bonus of 10 additional online ballots. To access these additional online ballots, you must be logged into your MLB.com account when you submit any online ballot. If you do not have an MLB.com account, register on the site in accordance with the enrollment instructions for a free MLB.com account.
Fans this year once again can participate in the Home Run Derby Fan Poll. Fans will have the opportunity to select three players in each league who they would most like to see participate in the Home Run Derby. The 2014 Home Run Derby will be broadcast live on ESPN, ESPN HD, ESPN Deportes and ESPN Radio in the United States beginning at 8 p.m. ET on Monday, July 14.
The 2014 American League and National League All-Star teams will be unveiled on the 2014 MLB All-Star Game Selection Show during the weekend of July 5-6, with further details to follow on MLB.com. Immediately following the announcement of the AL and NL All-Star rosters, fans can begin voting to select the final player for each league's 34-man roster via the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Final Vote Sponsored by Experian. Fans will cast their votes from a list of five players from each league over the balloting period.
And the voting doesn't end there. The final phase of All-Star Game voting will again have fans participating in the voting for the Ted Williams All-Star Game Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet. During the Midsummer Classic, fans will vote exclusively online at MLB.com via the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com MVP Vote Sponsored by Pepsi, and their voice will represent 20 percent of the overall vote that determines the recipient of the Arch Ward Trophy.
MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage of the All-Star Week festivities.
The 85th All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 200 countries via MLB International's independent feed. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network and SiriusXM will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.
Gwynn Jr. returns from bereavement list
PHILADELPHIA -- Tony Gwynn Jr. rejoined the Phillies after spending the past week on the bereavement list following the death of his father Tony Gwynn.
The Phillies placed catcher Wil Nieves on the disabled list with a strained right quadriceps to make room for Gwynn on the 25-man roster.
"He said it was important for the family to get together and spend time together, and that went a long way, along with the outpouring from everywhere they went in San Diego," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. "They saw the No. 19 all over the city, which doesn't surprise me at all, but he said that also went a long way with the prayers and the thoughtfulness of the whole city of San Diego and the outpouring of showing respect to his dad. But his mindset is to come back now and to help us and contribute here."
Nieves is eligible to be activated July 4 in Pittsburgh.
"They just want me to be 100 percent," Nieves said. "I'm getting way better, but knowing me, I would have pushed it, even if I would have felt it a little bit. I would have tried to play. I think it's a smart move. It's the first time in 18 years I've been on the DL. First time. So it's something new. I didn't want it to happen, but at least it's not something serious."
• Sandberg said the Phillies have not decided who will start the second game of a doubleheader Saturday against the Braves, although Triple-A right-hander Brad Lincoln is a good possibility. But the Phillies will add a pitcher to the roster Saturday, and it will not be a bullpen game.
• Chase Utley is hitting .215 with three extra-base hits and a .561 OPS since May 28.
"He's shown some good things in batting practice, and I think it's just a temporary thing," Sandberg said. "I know that he feels healthy and feels strong, so I think it's just a matter of just being in a little bit of a funk with some timing things at home plate."
• Jimmy Rollins stole the 438th base of his career in the second inning Tuesday night. He is tied with Hall of Famer Ed Delahanty for second place on the franchise list.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.