LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Left-hander Bobby LaFromboise was twice claimed off waivers during the offseason. After the Phillies took him in January, he was designated for assignment and re-signed to a Minor League contract so he could be taken off the big league roster.Despite that inauspicious start, LaFromboise has
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Left-hander Bobby LaFromboise was twice claimed off waivers during the offseason. After the Phillies took him in January, he was designated for assignment and re-signed to a Minor League contract so he could be taken off the big league roster.
Despite that inauspicious start, LaFromboise has made a strong impression this spring. He pitched two scoreless innings in Friday's 9-2 win over the Braves, walking one and striking out three. After six Grapefruit League innings, he still hasn't allowed a hit.
Two other lefties, Edward Mujica and Elvis Aruajo, also pitched scoreless innings Friday.
"It was nice to see LaFromboise, [James] Russell and Araujo, all the three lefties who are in contention for a bullpen job, it was good to see those guys do well," said manager Pete Mackanin.
Russell showed poise in the fifth inning when Barrett Kleinknecht ripped a line drive back up the middle that knocked his glove off. But Russell was able to retrieve the ball and throw Kleinknecht out at first.
Left-hander Daniel Stumpf, who is a Rule 5 Draft pick, has given up just one run in five innings.
Mackanin said no decision has been made on how many bullpen lefties the Phillies might break camp with.
"It depends on how we feel about all of them," said Mackanin. "There's nothing wrong with having three of them in the bullpen, but it depends on everybody else, I guess.
"I think it's interesting to note that this was the year everybody was told this was the spring that would be full of competition unlike any spring we've ever had here before. Guys like [first baseman Darin] Ruf, he's really doing well. [Catcher Cameron] Rupp is doing well. [Catcher Carlos Ruiz] is gung-ho all the time. You can tell he's battling. Everyone seems to be battling, and it's bringing out the best in the guys."
The 29-year-old LaFromboise has been one of the most pleasant surprises in camp, and part of the reason might be a change pitching coach Bob McClure suggested after seeing him thrown only once or twice.
"He moved me over to the third-base side [of the rubber] and it's kind of helped me with my fastball coming in," LaFromboise explained. "That's a big part of it. He said, 'Hey, try this.' So I went over, tried it and liked it. When I'm throwing from the first-base side, I'm really cut off. It's hard for me to get inside to a righty. From the third-base side, it's almost like that's my plane."
At the University of New Mexico, LaFromboise threw from the third-base side. The Mariners moved him over after he signed with them in 2008.
LaFromboise doesn't throw hard, but he has a deceptive delivery. So far, he's more than holding his own in the bullpen sweepstakes.
"I like that funk he offers," Mackanin said.
Jim Kaat, who won 283 games during his 25-year career, started his stint as a guest instructor on Friday. Kaat pitched four years with the Phillies from 1976 to 1979.
Right-hander Kyle Kendrick, who started his big league career by going 74-68 for the Phillies in eight seasons, started for the Braves Friday and faced his former team for the first time. "I'm over it," said Kendrick, who signed a Minor League contract with Atlanta. "Besides, outside of (Ryan Howard), I really don't know any of those guys." With the Rockies last season, his starts didn't line up with the games against the Phils.
Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com.