Asher's expanding repertoire has room for cutter

Asher's expanding repertoire has room for cutter

TAMPA, Fla. -- Phillies right-hander Alec Asher incorporated a two-seam fastball into his repertoire with tremendous success last season.

Perhaps a new cutter can be similarly effective.

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Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rising Phils arms duel with Yanks in spring opener

Rising Phils arms duel with Yanks in spring opener

TAMPA, Fla. -- Didi Gregorius hit the first home run of Spring Training 2017, and Aaron Judge added a majestic drive as the Yankees denied the Phillies, 9-4, on Friday at George M. Steinbrenner Field in each team's Grapefruit League season opener.

Gregorius followed up a career-high 20 homers last season by going deep on the first pitch he saw from Phillies starter Alec Asher, a solo drive to right-center field. Judge hit a titanic solo shot in the fifth inning off Elniery Garcia, denting the scoreboard in left field.

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Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook.

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Many tweaks yield swing Cozens believes in

Many tweaks yield swing Cozens believes in

TAMPA, Fla. -- Matt Stairs has said very little this spring to Dylan Cozens.

"Why would I?" Stairs said.

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Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Competition aside, Stassi, Perkins see path to Philly

Competition aside, Stassi, Perkins see path to Philly

TAMPA, Fla. -- The Phillies have a nice problem on their hands.

They rebuilt their farm system, developing a glut of talented position players in the upper levels. The Triple-A Lehigh Valley roster could include many of the organization's top prospects in 2017, including first baseman Rhys Hoskins and outfielders Roman Quinn, Nick Williams and Dylan Cozens.

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Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Phils' Kingery appreciates road to big league camp

Phils' Kingery appreciates road to big league camp

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Life could have been completely different had Scott Kingery not had so much faith in himself.

"Every time I think about it, it's pretty crazy," he said.

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Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone, follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Mackanin: Alfaro has potential to be 'monster'

Mackanin: Alfaro has potential to be 'monster'

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Jorge Alfaro showed why scouts love him Thursday afternoon at Spectrum Field.

Alfaro ripped a ball into the wind, doubling off the right-center-field wall in the fourth inning of a 6-0 victory over the University of Tampa, the Phillies' final day before they play the Yankees in Friday's Grapefruit League opener in Tampa, Fla.. He also threw out a basestealer by several feet in the fourth.

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Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone, follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Kendrick's veteran presence helping young Phils

After being acquired from Dodgers in offseason, 33-year-old hopes Philly's youth can learn from him

Kendrick's veteran presence helping young Phils

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The Phillies traded for Howie Kendrick in the offseason to add some punch to a lineup that finished last in baseball in runs scored last year. How much he ultimately contributes on the field won't be determined until the regular season.

But general manager Matt Klentak also sent Darin Ruf and Darnell Sweeney to the Dodgers for the versatile 33-year-old because he wanted an experienced hitter who the younger players could observe, emulate and learn from. And that part of the equation already appears to be a success.

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Paul Hagen is a national columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rose officially on Phillies Wall of Fame ballot

All-time hits leader helped Philadelphia win 1980 World Series title

Rose officially on Phillies Wall of Fame ballot

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Expect to see Pete Rose at Citizens Bank Park this summer.

Phillies president Andy MacPhail said Rose will be on the Phillies' Wall of Fame ballot this year. Fans will vote online for five finalists from a 10-man group that also includes Steve Bedrosian, Scott Rolen, Placido Polanco and Manny Trillo. A selection committee then will select the 2017 honoree. Major League Baseball recently approved the Phils' request to honor Rose, who remains ineligible for the National Baseball Hall of Fame as a result of betting on baseball.

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Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Phils think data points to Benoit resurgence

Newly acquired reliever healthy, could be in the mix for saves in '17

Phils think data points to Benoit resurgence

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- When the Phillies signed free agent reliever Joaquin Benoit to a one-year, $7.5 million contract in December, a logical -- if indelicate -- question was immediately posed.

How could the team be sure it was getting the right-hander who had posted an 0.38 ERA in 25 games for the Blue Jays, and not the one who opened the season with a 5.18 ERA in 26 appearances for the Mariners?

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Paul Hagen is a national columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Phils reveal starters for first 3 spring games

Alec Asher to pitch Grapefruit League opener on Friday

Phils reveal starters for first 3 spring games

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The Phillies on Tuesday announced their starting pitchers for three games this week.

Minor League right-hander Mark Leiter Jr. will pitch Thursday afternoon in an exhibition against the University of Tampa. Phillies pitching coach Bob McClure said he expects a few of the big league relief pitchers to follow him.

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Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Phillies making organizational upgrades

President Andy MacPhail leading efforts to modernize operations

Phillies making organizational upgrades

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The Phillies have been making changes to Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia and to Spectrum Field in Clearwater, but on Monday, Phillies president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail outlined other changes happening inside the organization and expanded on the philosophies behind them.

Understandably, most of the focus is on baseball, but there are business operations to consider as well.

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Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Jonathan Mayo

Breaking down the Phillies' Top 30 Prospects

Crawford heads Philadelphia's list for third straight season

Breaking down the Phillies' Top 30 Prospects

Back at the Trade Deadline in 2015, the Phillies realized it was time to turn things over and hit the rebuild button. That's when Cole Hamels was dealt to the Rangers for five Minor Leaguers, four of whom were on the Phils' Top 30 list at this time last year. Ken Giles went to the Astros in that offseason, bringing in more young talent.

Having a highly-regarded system is all well and good, but the whole purpose of a rebuilding effort is to be able to take that talent and give the big league club players who can contribute to a winning team. That's an ongoing effort, with moderate gains in 2016, but several of the players from those trades graduated off the Top 30 and into Major League roles.

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Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Sweet springtime: Phils keep it lively at camp

Sweet springtime: Phils keep it lively at camp

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Bob Seger's "Night Moves" and other music served as the Phillies' soundtrack to Monday's workout at Carpenter Complex.

It's baseball -- why not?

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Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Hellickson likely to be Opening Day starter

Hellickson likely to be Opening Day starter

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- It's not official, but expect Jeremy Hellickson to be the Phillies' Opening Day starter.

Hellickson opened for the Phillies last year.

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Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MacPhail endorses Phils facility's fresh look

Phillies president preaches 'staying current' for fans as well as players

MacPhail endorses Phils facility's fresh look

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Spectrum Field has had a different look and feel this spring.

Sure, it is the first Spring Training without a single player from the 2008 World Series championship team. But there have been physical changes to the exterior and interior of the ballpark and Carpenter Complex, too.

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Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Lidge on Phils' arms: 'They've got the talent'

Former closer returns for second stint as Spring Training guest instructor

Lidge on Phils' arms: 'They've got the talent'

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Brad Lidge still looks like he could pitch for the Phillies.

But on Sunday, he finished his second turn as a guest instructor at Phillies camp. He first worked as a guest instructor in 2014, but that felt a little different, with former teammates like Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Cole Hamels, Carlos Ruiz and Cliff Lee still on the roster. This time, he saw a lot of young pitchers and a lot of new faces.

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Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Phils' logjam could leave starters in 'pen

Asher, Morgan among 12 candidates for MLB, Triple-A rotation spots

Phils' logjam could leave starters in 'pen

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Alec Asher can do the math. The Phillies have 12 starters that could open the season in the big leagues or Triple-A.

Twelve starters, 10 jobs.

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Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Coghlan anticipating 'new chapter' as Phillie

Following World Series win with Cubs, outfielder looking for more playing time

Coghlan anticipating 'new chapter' as Phillie

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- How does Chris Coghlan follow one of the greatest seasons in baseball history and possibly the greatest World Series ever? He starts from scratch, and he signs a Minor League contract with the Phillies.

"I want to be part of something bigger than me," Coghlan said Saturday morning in front of his locker at Spectrum Field.

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Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Hernandez looks to build on second-half surge

Hernandez looks to build on second-half surge

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Larry Bowa noticed a change in Cesar Hernandez in the second half of last season, a change the Phillies' bench coach hopes he carries into 2017 and beyond to become one of the best second basemen in baseball: Hernandez began coming to Bowa before games to run through the lineup card with him.

"Slight pull, straightaway, pull," Hernandez said, running through the hitters' tendencies.

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Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Glove story: Phillies arrive to find mitts waiting

Glove story: Phillies arrive to find mitts waiting

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Jerad Eickhoff arrived at Spectrum Field before Phillies pitchers and catchers held their first workout Tuesday to find a new black glove with red stitching sitting at his locker.

He had designed the custom mitt in the offseason after signing a new contract with Wilson. Eickhoff went online and entered his personal specifications and preferences. He selected the style of the glove, its length and width, and the colors of the leather, laces, stitching and logo.

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Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Mackanin: Phils' fire apparent on first day

Mackanin: Phils' fire apparent on first day

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The Phillies held their first full-squad workout Friday morning at Carpenter Complex, and if manager Pete Mackanin had a fiery speech for his players at Spectrum Field, he did not indicate it.

"The same old staples," Mackanin said, who enters his second full season as the Phillies' manager. "The same old, work hard, enjoy the fight to where you want to be. Don't be late. Do everything right. Follow the rules and compete. The basic stuff."

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Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Stairs' philosophy? 'Be a stubborn hitter'

Stairs' philosophy? 'Be a stubborn hitter'

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Minutes after the Phillies made Matt Stairs their hitting coach in November, Stairs typed out the strengths and weaknesses of 14 Phillies batters that he had seen the previous three years as a broadcaster and guest instructor.

"I had video, but it was in my head," Stairs said on Thursday morning at Spectrum Field.

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Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Phillies respond to New Jersey governor

Social media account addresses Christie's comments

Phillies respond to New Jersey governor

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- This is out of control, isn't it?

MLB.com tweeted a few photos on Tuesday of the Phillies' upgraded décor at Spectrum Field, their Spring Training venue. In one image, on a wall leading into Philadelphia's clubhouse, are photos of Ryan Howard holding up the 2008 World Series championship trophy and Tug McGraw, who recorded the final out of the 1980 Fall Classic, raising his arms in the air.

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Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Galvis to focus on offensive production

27-year-old to remain in training camp, will sit out of Classic

Galvis to focus on offensive production

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Freddy Galvis bristled at the question Wednesday morning at Spectrum Field.

He had his best season with the Phillies in 2016, posting a career-high 26 doubles, 20 home runs and 67 RBIs and finishing as a finalist for the National League Gold Glove Award at shortstop. He is the longest tenured Phillies player, making his debut in 2012, and he is slated to be the shortstop on Opening Day on April 3 in Cincinnati.

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Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Feeling great, Nola throws first bullpen session

Mackanin 'cautiously optimistic' after righty finished 2016 on disabled list

Feeling great, Nola throws first bullpen session

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- It is just one bullpen session, but Phillies right-hander Aaron Nola threw his first one of the spring Wednesday at Carpenter Complex.

It seemed to go well.

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Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Gomez fine with any role Phils give him

Righty reliever will compete for closer's job; Saunders out of WBC 2017

Gomez fine with any role Phils give him

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Phillies closer Jeanmar Gomez said Wednesday afternoon that he will know Thursday if he will play for Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic, although folks with the Phillies think it is highly unlikely he plays in the tournament.

"I'm on the roster right now," Gomez said. "I'm going to speak with my agent. I just want to be ready for Opening Day."

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Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.