Phillies manager Joe Girardi said on Sunday that it is too early to call anybody a favorite to win the Opening Day job in center field, but Odúbel Herrera continues to build a strong case.
Herrera dropped a perfect bunt up the third-base line in the first inning and homered to right field on a first-pitch breaking ball against Pirates left-hander Steven Brault in the third inning in a 6-5 victory over the Bucs in Bradenton, Fla. Herrera is batting .300 (6-for-20) with two home runs, two RBIs, four strikeouts, one stolen base and a .900 OPS this spring.
“He’s definitely a big part of the conversation with the way he’s played,” Girardi said. “He’s hit a couple home runs. He’s done a lot of different things. He played some really good defense. He’s played all over the place, mostly center and right. But his at-bats have been pretty darn good. And like I’ve said, he’s seen most left-handed pitching. He’s definitely in the mix.”
Girardi liked the fact that Herrera bunted in the first.
“It’s got to be part of his game,” he said. “We work on these guys all the time. He came out, worked the other day, and he tried it out right away. He had some success. That’s always easier to sell when you have success. And then he jumped over a high breaking ball. He had another good day.”
Scott Kingery and Roman Quinn remain Herrera’s top competitors, particularly with Adam Haseley sidelined with a strained left adductor. Kingery and Quinn have a built-in advantage in that they are on the 40-man roster, while Herrera is not after the Phillies outrighted him in Jan. 2020, following his 2019 arrest and 85-game suspension for violating the league’s domestic abuse policy. Kingery went 0-for-3 with one walk, one strikeout and one stolen base against the Pirates. He is batting .136 (3-for-22) with one home run, one RBI, two walks, 10 strikeouts, one stolen base and a .526 OPS. Quinn, who did not play on Sunday, is batting .294 (5-for-17) with one double, two walks, eight strikeouts, one stolen base and a .721 OPS.
Mickey Moniak went 1-for-2 with an opposite-field double against the Pirates. He has a 1.571 OPS in 14 plate appearances, but he probably remains a darkhorse candidate. Moniak seems most likely to open the season in Triple-A. Girardi said Moniak will not make the team as a reserve outfielder because he needs to play every day.
“Mickey’s at-bats have been good,” Girardi said. “We’re just going to have to let this play out for another two weeks.”
Brogdon leaves game, but he is OK
Right-hander Connor Brogdon could be a big piece of the bullpen’s resurrection this year, so it caused some concern when he left Sunday’s game in the seventh inning. Girardi said Brogdon is OK. He had a rib “kind of get out.”
“They pushed it in and he’s fine,” Girardi said. “It happens a lot with him. I was just being overly cautious. He didn’t want to come out. And then he went and ran, so we don’t really have any concerns.”
Moore locking down rotation job
The moment left-hander Matt Moore signed a one-year, $3 million contract with the Phillies, he became a favorite (a lock?) to win one of the two available starting rotation jobs. It is almost impossible to imagine him not making a turn through the rotation the first week of the season. Moore allowed one hit and one run in four innings on Sunday. He struck out three. In three appearances this spring, Moore has a 1.13 ERA, allowing three hits, one run and one walk in eight innings. He has struck out five, and he has thrown 71.1 percent of his pitches (64 of 90) for strikes.
“He’s ahead in the count all the time,” Girardi said. “He had another outstanding day.”
Moore’s fastball touched 94.9 mph and averaged 92.5 mph on Sunday. He got five swings and misses overall, including three on his changeup and two on his curveball.
“I’m happy with where I’m at physically,” Moore said. “I can’t complain about anything.”