Knapp busts slump with first spring homer

Phillies catcher is trying to earn backup catcher job

Knapp busts slump with first spring homer

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Phillies catcher Andrew Knapp entered Spring Training as the favorite to be the team's backup catcher.

But he stepped into the batter's box in the sixth inning of Thursday night's 2-2 tie with the Orioles at Ed Smith Stadium in a 1-for-22 slump. He hit a solo home run to left field to give the Phillies a two-run lead.

It was Knapp's first homer of the spring.

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"Probably," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said, when asked if Knapp is pressing at the plate. "I spoke to him about four or five days ago. I told him to relax. He swung the bat better today. If somebody hits .400 in the spring, you don't really think too much of that. If a guy doesn't hit really well in the spring, you don't put a lot of credence into that, either. You can't, if you want to think about it."

Knapp's top competition are non-roster invitees Ryan Hanigan and Bryan Holaday. Hanigan went 2-for-2 with one double, one RBI and one walk against the Orioles. He is hitting .455 (5-for-11). Holaday, who did not play Thursday, is hitting .214 (3-for-14).

Thompson returns from injury 

It felt like it had been a while for Phillies right-hander Jake Thompson.

He struck out two in 2 1/3 perfect innings Thursday. It was his first appearance of the spring following an injury to his right wrist, which he said he suffered in an offseason fall.

"Not so much rust, it just felt like I hadn't done it in a long time," Thompson said. "I hadn't thrown in front of people in seven or eight months. Everything else was great. I felt healthy. It's a good one to build off."

Thompson said he has enough time to be ready for the beginning of the season in April. He is expected to open the season in Triple-A Lehigh Valley, unless there is an injury to one of the Phillies' five starting pitchers.

The Phillies' rotation is expected to be Jeremy Hellickson, Jerad Eickhoff, Clay Buchholz, Vince Velasquez and Aaron Nola.

"I'm on track for a minimum of a five-inning start," Thompson said. "I think that's what we did last year. Other than missing a lot of Spring Training time, not a whole lot of setbacks."

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.