Reliever Stutes finding comfort zone

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Mike Stutes is feeling like himself again.

He struck out two in one scoreless inning Friday in a 3-2 loss to the Rays at Charlotte Sports Park. He struck out Yunel Escobar and Kelly Johnson swinging, then got Evan Longoria to ground out to third to end the inning. Since Stutes allowed three runs on three runs and two walks in two innings in his first two spring appearances, he has allowed one hit, one walk and struck out three in two scoreless innings in his last two outings.

"I just hadn't been out there for a while," said Stutes, who missed most of last season because of a right shoulder injury. "I was going out there, trying to be too fine and hit the corners. The last two outings, I've definitely gotten more comfortable out there. I hadn't faced hitters in like 10 months. It just took me a couple times to get back to feeling comfortable and attacking the hitters instead of reacting to what they're doing. I feel like I'm back to where I was before."

Stutes is competing for one of three job openings in the Phillies' bullpen.

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.