CLEARWATER, Fla. - Monday afternoon was the first time so far in spring training that all five of the Phillies' prized offseason acquisitions played in the same game. The top of the order was Andrew McCutchen, Jean Segura, Bryce Harper and J.T. Realmuto, and David Robertson made his spring debut with a 1-2-3 eighth inning.
McCutchen and Segura hit back-to-back homers in the fourth inning. Harper walked and struck out in his two plate appearances (see story).
Robertson followed Pat Neshek, who struck out the side in his inning of work. Combined, they allowed no baserunners and punched out five.
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Robertson will be this team's setup man, and at times he'll close. When Seranthony Dominguez pitches the ninth, Neshek and Robertson will serve as the bridge in some form.
Neither veteran reliever has pitched much in spring games so far. They both know the drill, know their arms, know their bodies and how many innings of actual game action are required to begin a season.
Neshek, for example, hasn't made more than four appearances in spring training since 2016. His health and availability for the season are much more important than his work in Grapefruit League games, and both he and Robertson are able to accomplish what they need to accomplish in side sessions.
Eickhoff goes two innings
Jerad Eickhoff's spring debut didn't go as well. His outing began in the fifth inning with a bloop double and a two-run homer. He allowed another homer in the sixth.
It was good for Eickhoff just to get back out there after dealing with a wrist injury early in camp. Injuries limited him to just 5⅓ innings in the majors last season.
It will be tough, perhaps impossible, for Eickhoff to win a spot in the Phillies' starting rotation early on. He has a minor-league option left and will likely begin the year in the Triple A rotation. If he pitches well, he could be the first man up if the Phils suffer a starting pitcher injury.
Remember, Eickhoff was very impressive in 2015 and 2016, his first two big-league seasons. He had a 3.44 ERA in 248 1/3 innings with just 2.0 walks per nine innings. His big curveball missed bats and froze hitters, and he looked like a 200-inning workhorse in the making.
After Monday's game, the Phillies made a series of roster moves with their young pitchers.
Lefties Austin Davis and Ranger Suarez and righties Enyel De Los Santos and Edgar Garcia were optioned to Triple A. Garcia is an exciting 22-year-old reliever who could help the big-league club this season.
Lefties Cole Irvin and Tyler Gilbert were reassigned to minor-league camp.
In big-league camp, 48 players remain.
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