Last year, Antonio Bastardo spent nearly two-thirds of
his first 94 days in the majors on the disabled list with a strained shoulder.
But when the Phillies needed a second left-handed reliever for the postseason,
they had enough confidence to put him on the roster.
Imagine, then, the opportunity Bastardo will have this
With one spot - and maybe more, depending on the health
of closer Brad Lidge and left-hander J.C. Romero - open in the Phillies'
bullpen, Charlie Manuel and pitching coach Rich Dubee will be paying attention
to Bastardo during spring training. And fresh off of a dominating performance in
the Dominican winter league, he may even be the early favorite to win the job.
Bastardo, 24, posted a 1.50 ERA with six strikeouts in
seven innings for los Gigantes del Cibao during the regular season, then fanned
12 batters over 7 1/3 scoreless innings in five appearances in the championship
series against Escogido.
"There's no question he has the stuff to be a very
successful major league pitcher," assistant GM Chuck LaMar told the Wilmington
(Del.) News Journal. "He was able to come up last year and show the arm
strength, especially from the left side, that can propel him to win a job. Now
he's got to do it on a consistent basis."
If everyone is healthy - and assuming Kyle Kendrick or
Jamie Moyer opens as the number five starter - Lidge, Ryan Madson, Romero, Chad Durbin and veteran newcomers Danys Baez and Jose Contreras will take spots in
the bullpen. But Romero is the only lefty, creating an opening for either
Bastardo or Sergio Escalona to claim the final job.
Bastardo earned the playoff roster spot over Escalona,
although he made only two appearances and faced two batters. Escalona, who had a
4.61 ERA in 14 games for the Phillies last season, struggled in the Venezuelan
winter league, posting a 10.80 ERA and walking 11 batters in 10 innings.
This winter, the Phillies wanted Bastardo to continue
developing his breaking ball. After being called up in June, he threw his
fastball 73.8 percent of the time. And even though the Phillies view him
exclusively as a reliever (five of his six regular-season appearances last year
were starts), he still needs a more reliable secondary pitch.
"It's going to come down to having more than that
fastball," LaMar said. "Right now, he needs to continue to work on his
breaking ball. It was great to see what he did this winter, and I'm looking
forward to seeing how he performs in spring training."
- Roy Halladay reportedly has been spending his mornings
working out at the Phillies' spring training complex in Clearwater, Fla., no
surprise given he lives a few miles away in Odessa, Fla.
"Last year, I saw him on the highlights, and he's
got some great stuff," Ruiz said. "I can't wait to catch him and see
it for myself."
Chase Utley added, "Everyone I've talked to who has
played with him or against him has nothing but good things to say. His
preparation is off the charts. He's a workhorse."
- Oscar Villarreal, who didn't pitch last season after
undergoing elbow ligament replacement surgery, agreed to a minor league contract
that doesn't include a spot in major league camp, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said.
According to Amaro, Villarreal is still rehabbing from the operation he had last
In 258 career games (five starts), Villarreal is 24-15
with a 3.86 ERA. He posted a 5.02 ERA in 35 games for Houston in 2008, and he
went 9-1 with a 3.60 ERA in 58 appearances for Atlanta in 2006.
The Phillies recently have signed several players with
major league experience to minor league contracts, including OF Freddy Guzman,
OF Dewayne Wise, INF Cody Ransom, SS Wilson Valdez, RHP Ryan Vogelsong, RHP
Brandon Duckworth and RHP Jason Standridge.
Gillies also is legally deaf, with only 50 percent
hearing in his right ear and 30 percent in his left. He wears hearing aids.
"He's kind of a special guy as far as his makeup is
concerned," said Amaro, who has compared Gillies' baseball ability to CF
Shane Victorino's. "The guy has obviously overcome some obstacles. We're
pretty pleased to have him because he was a very important part of the
Antonio Bastardo's minor league stats
|Minor League Totals||18||9||2.58||61||46||271.2||203||96||78||21||118||302||1.182||6.7||3.9||10.0|