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Lefties Morgan, Rodriguez win bullpen jobs

Garcia sent to Lehigh Valley as Phillies settle on seven relievers
March 30, 2017

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The competition in the Phillies' bullpen is finished.Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said on Thursday morning that left-handers Adam Morgan and Joely Rodriguez have made the team. The Phils earlier optioned right-hander Luis Garcia to Triple-A Lehigh Valley, leaving Morgan and Rodriguez as the last men standing.Morgan and

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The competition in the Phillies' bullpen is finished.
Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said on Thursday morning that left-handers Adam Morgan and Joely Rodriguez have made the team. The Phils earlier optioned right-hander Luis Garcia to Triple-A Lehigh Valley, leaving Morgan and Rodriguez as the last men standing.
Morgan and Rodriguez will join right-handers Jeanmar Gomez, Joaquin Benoit, Hector Neris, Pat Neshek and Edubray Ramos in a seven-man bullpen. The Phillies will announce the winners of their bench battle after Thursday's Grapefruit League game against the Yankees at Spectrum Field. Brock Stassi, Daniel Nava and Jesmuel Valentin are competing for two jobs. Stassi is likely to win one of them.
"The thing I like about our bullpen is that everybody has got stuff," Mackanin said. "You go down the line and everybody has got their swing-and-miss pitch. The [right-handers] have good enough stuff to where they're almost interchangeable."
Mackanin reiterated that Gomez will be the closer.
"He's going to get every opportunity to do the job," Mackanin said. "If he doesn't, then we're going to take a look at it."
Morgan has a 2.45 ERA in 18 1/3 innings this spring. Rodriguez has a 3.00 ERA in 12 innings. They are the only two left-handers on the pitching staff -- all five starting pitchers are right-handers -- and they also can throw multiple innings if needed.
Morgan pitched well last spring, but he was sent to Triple-A. So when pitching coach Bob McClure summoned Morgan to Mackanin's office, Morgan did not know what to expect.
"I could feel my pulse in my head," Morgan said. "You're just numb. Then, I sat down and they said, 'You're going with us.' I could've cried right there. It's been a crazy last week."

Rodriguez called his mother in the Dominican Republic immediately after receiving the news.
"She was really happy because she knows I've worked hard," he said.
Garcia continues to tantalize and frustrate. He has an overpowering fastball and slider, and he recently started to throw a splitter, which had Mackanin wondering if Garcia had reinvented himself.
But Garcia struggled, allowing 15 hits, seven runs and one walk while striking out 11 in 10 2/3 innings this spring. He needed to pitch well on Wednesday against the Tigers in Lakeland, Fla., but instead he allowed five hits to the 10 batters he faced. Garcia acknowledged earlier this spring that he needs to better handle pressure.
"He developed that split-fingered fastball in Spring Training, and we feel it's in his best interest to work on it, because I think it can be a real good pitch for him down the road," Mackanin said. "Sometimes it takes a while for guys to get it. One thing that was noticeable this spring is that Garcia seemed to be more relaxed than he has been in the past."

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