Phillies 9, Twins 5: Adam Morgan Impresses, Offense Rallies for 6 in Ninth

BOX SCORE

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Phillies held what looked like an audition for the role of long reliever on Tuesday.

Adam Morgan acquitted himself quite well with three scoreless innings against the Minnesota Twins.

Jake Thompson, a long shot for the role, also worked three scoreless innings and did a good job pitching out of trouble when his command abandoned him in the third inning.

Alec Asher, meanwhile, was hit hard. He allowed two homers and gave up five runs in the bottom of the eighth inning on his way to losing a three-run lead.

The Phillies came back with six runs in the top of the ninth inning to win, 9-5.

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Five of the seven jobs in the Phillies' bullpen are basically set with Jeanmar Gomez, Hector Neris, Joaquin Benoit, Edubray Ramos and Pat Neshek (see 25-man projection).

Morgan, Asher, Luis Garcia and Joely Rodriguez are the top candidates for the remaining two slots. Thompson has received some light consideration, but he really needs to go to Triple A and work as a starter. Non-roster lefties Sean Burnett and Cesar Ramos are also in the mix, but could end up on the outside looking in because they are not on the 40-man roster and the Phils have little flexibility there.

Morgan did not hurt his chances on being a lefty long man with his performance Tuesday. He allowed a leadoff double, but pitched out of trouble. In all, he gave up a hit, a walk and struck out two.

Mackanin and pitching coach Bob McClure want to see Morgan use more finesse -- soft stuff in fastball counts -- in his repertoire and the pitcher did that in this outing.

"He pitched the way we would like to see him pitch," Mackanin said. "He really had a good mixture of soft and hard. He kind of pitched backward today, which I think he's going to have to do to be successful. He showed us he can do that so that was encouraging.

"He upset the timing of hitters. That's why he was effective.

"I want to see him a few more times. He needs to pitch the remainder of the spring the way he pitched today."

Life on the bubble of a big-league roster in the final days of camp can be stressful. Morgan learned to handle it last year when he pitched well as a starter only to end up opening the season in Triple A.

"I'm not getting too high or too low," Morgan said. "Last year I was like, 'I've got a shot, I've got a shot,' and then … So, really I'm just taking it one day at a time, trying to do my best out there. Just see how the chips fall.

"You have to check your ego at the door. In my case, you're never solidified into a spot. So I just come in and do the best I can."

The offense ...
Well, it was productive.

The Phils had 15 hits in the game, including a pair of homers by Freddy Galvis and Aaron Altherr. Altherr's homer started a six-run rally in the ninth. Roman Quinn tied the game with a pinch-hit double and Odubel Herrera singled home the go-ahead run with his second hit of the day (more on Herrera here).

"It was good to score a lot of runs," Mackanin said.

Mr. Versatility
Howie Kendrick started at second base.

He will likely get a start at third base before camp ends. He also might get some reps at first base.

"He's our primary leftfielder," Mackanin said. "But we want to get him some time in the infield in case a need ever arises."

Kendrick has primarily been a second baseman during his 11 seasons in the majors. He played 94 games in the outfield with the Dodgers last season. The Phillies traded for him to be their leftfielder.

Up next
Vince Velasquez opposes Masahiro Tanaka when the Yankees visit Clearwater on Wednesday.

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