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Eickhoff enjoys solid bounce-back outing

Righty holds Blue Jays scoreless on 2 hits over 2 2/3 innings, fans 2
Special to MLB.com

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Round 2 went much better for Philadelphia starter Jerad Eickhoff, who struggled in his spring debut.

The right-hander pitched 2 2/3 innings of shutout baseball, struck out a pair and allowed two hits during the Phillies' eventual 4-2 win over the Blue Jays on Sunday.

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CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Round 2 went much better for Philadelphia starter Jerad Eickhoff, who struggled in his spring debut.

The right-hander pitched 2 2/3 innings of shutout baseball, struck out a pair and allowed two hits during the Phillies' eventual 4-2 win over the Blue Jays on Sunday.

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"I was locating pretty well with the exception of a couple pitches, but I was really mixing up pitches well to keep them off-balance as best I could," Eickhoff said.

Playing against a solid Blue Jays lineup, Eickhoff retired Curtis Granderson and Yangervis Solarte to begin the first inning. A fielding error from Cesar Hernandez allowed former American League MVP Josh Donaldson to reach base, but Eickhoff responded by fanning Justin Smoak to end the threat.

In the second, Eickhoff gave up a one-out hit to Steve Pearce and two batters later, Jason Leblebijian reached on another Phillies error, but Eickhoff rebounded again, this time catching Gift Ngoepe looking at strike three.

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"The biggest thing is understanding sometimes you're going to have to get four, five and hopefully not six or seven outs in an inning," Eickhoff said. "To be able to work around that, that's huge."

In the third, the 27-year-old again retired Granderson and Solarte before a Donaldson single ended his day.

"[My spring has] been progressing as it usually has and as I anticipated," Eickhoff said. "You try to tweak a couple things, and you don't know how quickly you're going to adjust to them. I have confidence in myself that I can figure it out sooner than later."

Eickhoff started 24 games, going 4-8 with a 4.71 ERA before a hand injury at the end of August ended his season. Since then, Eickhoff has been working to prevent a stabbing motion that causes his hand to get behind his body, and hopes a more fluid and smooth delivery will prevent him from falling off toward first base.

"Getting hurt allowed me to sit down and look at some things," Eickhoff said. "It's a good time to change some stuff and clean some stuff up, and it's going to help propel me down the road. I've been working on that all offseason, and I think it's starting to translate here."

Remembering 2008
A handful of former players and coaches from the 2008 World Series Champion Phillies were on hand to witness the club's win against the Blue Jays.

Among others, manager Charlie Manuel, bench coach Jimmy Williams, shortstop Jimmy Rollins, infielder Pedro Feliz and pitcher Brett Myers attended.

Video: TOR@PHI: Myers discusses winning 2008 World Series

The team will be holding a more formal alumni night during an Aug. 5 pregame ceremony when Philadelphia hosts Miami.

Scott stays hot
Second baseman Scott Kingery has been the buzz throughout Philadelphia Spring Training, and he continued to be thanks to a 2-for-3 day at the plate with a double and a run scored.

Video: TOR@PHI: Kingery smacks a double to right field

But what impressed Phillies manager Gabe Kapler was how much the 23-year-old was embracing the team's rallying cry of, "Be Bold," especially as it pertained to the base paths.

"We see him as a guy who can score from first on the double, just about every time," Kapler said of Kingery, who also had a stolen base. "There's so much flexibility with him. When he's on third base, we feel we can put the contact play on with him because we feel like he's going to get a good read, a good jump and is fast enough to score."

Video: TOR@PHI: Kingery swipes second base in the 1st

Up next
Right-hander Vince Velasquez will make his second Grapefruit League start Monday as the Phillies host Kyle Gibson and the Twins at 1:05 p.m. EST. Velasquez surrendered three runs on two hits and a walk in 1 2/3 innings against the Blue Jays during his last outing. The game will be broadcast live on MLB Network and MLB.TV.

Greg Zeck is a contributor to MLB.com based in St. Petersburg.

Philadelphia Phillies, Jerad Eickhoff, Scott Kingery