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Diekman impresses in season debut

Diekman impresses in season debut

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DENVER -- Phillies left-hander Jake Diekman made a good impression in his season debut Friday, despite giving up a hard liner to Rockies slugger Carlos Gonzalez on the first pitch of his sophomore campaign. The ball landed for a single to left. Gonzalez also homered, walked, and singled three times in his five plate appearances from the three-hole.

"He did it last year, too," Diekman said of Gonzalez's first-pitch production off him. "I've faced him twice, and he's only seen two pitches."

Diekman was recalled from Triple-A Lehigh Valley Thursday and is a likely candidate to return there when lefty John Lannan is activated Monday to start against the Nationals. The way he handled the middle of the lineup after an immediate hit from Gonzalez impressed his manager, inducing infield grounders from right-handed cleanup hitter Michael Cuddyer and lefty Todd Helton before manager Charlie Manuel went to the 'pen again for the final out of the seventh inning against another righty.

"He recovered," Manuel said. "Gonzalez is a good hitter. I was glad he hit a low liner. He's tough. It's hard to get him out. Diekman hung in there. He got that right-hander."

Diekman had a solid season with Philadelphia last year, posting a 3.95 ERA in 32 relief appearances spanning two stints in the big leagues. His composure against the middle of the Rockies' lineup speaks to the experience he garnered in his rookie season.

"You gotta go right after them," Diekman said. "Cuddyer's ball was hit hard. You just got to throw strikes. You can't get behind. Especially with three, four, five."

Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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