JUPITER, Fla. -- Capable of handling any assignment, David Phelps last Spring Training reminded people that he had been compared to a Swiss Army knife. This year, Marlins manager Don Mattingly has simply called the right-handed reliever a "weapon."The versatility of Phelps again was demonstrated on Friday in Miami's 8-2
JUPITER, Fla. -- Capable of handling any assignment, David Phelps last Spring Training reminded people that he had been compared to a Swiss Army knife. This year, Marlins manager Don Mattingly has simply called the right-handed reliever a "weapon."
The versatility of Phelps again was demonstrated on Friday in Miami's 8-2 loss to the Twins at Roger Dean Stadium. Phelps tossed two scoreless innings, striking out two while allowing one hit.
"The more roles I can pitch in, the more options I can give Donnie, whether it's early in the game or late in the game," Phelps said.
A strength of the Marlins is their deep bullpen. On Friday, there were some struggles for the frontline relievers. Kyle Barraclough walked four and hit a batter, giving up two runs in the seventh. And A.J. Ramos allowed a walk and a run scored in the eighth inning, and in the ninth, Nick Wittgren surrendered a three-run homer.
But it's important to remember, it's Spring Training, and established players are often getting in their work.
"We've got seven or eight guys down there, nine counting our starter," Phelps said. "On any given day, we're trying to piece together 27 outs. As a unit out there, we're all trying to figure out how to piece that equation together. Whether we use two guys one night, or if we use six guys one night."
Phelps' ability to adapt, and still perform, is what makes him so valued. That was again the case on Friday, when the club went off script and Phelps threw an inning more than initially scheduled. At first he had a 10-pitch inning, and the third out came when catcher J.T. Realmuto threw out Eduardo Escobar trying to steal second.
Phelps immediately informed pitching coach Juan Nieves that he wanted more work.
Dustin McGowan was about to warm up for the fifth, but instead, he was quickly told to stop, and Phelps handled the fifth inning, striking out two.
Other than starting, the Marlins are open to using Phelps in any reliever situation, including closing.
"We want to be able to use him being versatile," Mattingly said. "What we saw last year, he was able to start, which we don't plan on doing. … There were a lot of different ways to use him, and he handled all of it well."
The Marlins are hopeful to build off what he did in 2016 when he was 7-6 with a 2.28 ERA. In 64 games, he made five starts and had four saves, and struck out 114 in 86 2/3 innings.
"He's not a guy that you have to say, 'He's our long guy. He's our closer. He's in the eighth inning,'" Mattingly said. "He's a guy who can get you from [the fifth to the seventh innings] one day, or he can get you an out in the sixth and get you through the seventh. I feel like we can close with him."
Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.