CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Former Phillies general manager Pat Gillick, who will be inducted into the organization's Wall of Fame this summer, said Friday that the team should be much improved under first-year manager Gabe Kapler, but probably not realistically ready to compete for a National League postseason spot until 2019."I
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Former Phillies general manager Pat Gillick, who will be inducted into the organization's Wall of Fame this summer, said Friday that the team should be much improved under first-year manager Gabe Kapler, but probably not realistically ready to compete for a National League postseason spot until 2019.
"I thought probably 2018 would be the year to compete, but I was a little too optimistic," said Gillick, who retired after three seasons as the GM after the 2008 World Series championship, but returned for a stint as team president and now serves as a senior advisor. "This will certainly be an improvement over 2017, but you need to give the [young players] and young pitchers a chance to get their feet on the ground with another year of experience.
"I think 2019 is more realistic. Overall, I think [rebuilding] has gone well from the standpoint that [the Phillies' front office] really hasn't altered their plan. They have tweaked it some, but they are still concentrating on young players, then trying to supplement with others who are going to make us more successful. We have a lot of good players just getting their shot in the Major Leagues and a lot of good players down below them who will be coming. There's a pipeline."
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One major Phillies' tweak was the signing of free-agent pitcher Jacob Arrieta, a former National League Cy Young Award winner. Gillick praised the move.
"He gives them a veteran starter, somebody they can rely on," Gillick said. "He's somebody younger pitchers can look up to. He's a role model.
"He went through some difficult times with the Orioles, got traded to the Cubs, won the Cy Young. These type of people are role models. They help the development process. They help bring these players along. If you need something, you can call on them."
Gillick, who was the architect behind the Blue Jays' back-to-back World Series championships in 1992 and 1993, said he was humbled to be selected for the Wall of Fame, where he becomes the first team executive to receive the honor.
"When you look at the wall ... there's Steve Carlton, Robin Roberts, Jim Bunning, John Kruk, John Vukovich, Dallas Green, the Pope [Paul Owens], Bob Boone," Gillick said. "... I'm just really humbled by this and very honored to receive this award.
"It's a team award. ... Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good. I'm very lucky that Ed Wade had already built a nucleus for the Phillies as I came here. We added to it and in 2008 the pieces fell together. I give a lot of credit to the previous regime."
Gillick and the late Roy Halladay, a Phillies' pitcher from 2010-13, will be inducted during a pregame ceremony Aug. 4 at Citizens Bank Park. Halladay died last November when the plane he was piloting crashed into the Gulf of Mexico.
Gillick recalled 1995, when he was dispatched to Arizona while with the Blue Jays to watch an elite high school team from Colorado. Halladay was the pitcher.
"I guess I was the first guy [from a Major League team] to see Roy pitch," Gillick said. "We ended up drafting him in the first round. I feel a connection to Roy. It's unfortunate he can't be up here with me."
In Lakeland, where the split-squad Phillies played to a 6-6 tie against the Tigers, right-hander Nick Pivetta said he was pleased with his start after allowing two runs in five innings. He walked one and struck out five.
"My goal in Spring Training has just been to become a better pitcher," Pivetta said. "I want to work on what I need to do to get me where I need to be at the end of Spring Training. Everything else will take care of itself.
"Everybody is gunning for positions here. There's no set roster, no nothing. It's not on my mind at all. It's just what I need to do today to make myself a better pitcher."
Ryan Flaherty played right field against the Tigers, meaning he has lined up at every non-pitching position in the field, except center field and catcher, during the spring.
"That's kind of what I do," Flaherty said. "If I had played just one position, I would've been back home working at the gas station."
Instead, after six seasons as the Orioles' utility man, Flaherty is providing fuel for the Phillies. He went 2-for-3 with three RBIs -- slamming a double and his first home run of the spring -- to raise his Grapefruit League batting average to .333.
"Coming here has been an easy transition," Flaherty said. "The players are young and eager to learn. It has been energetic, that's for sure."
Flaherty's performance was the Phillies' offensive highlight, along with a 3-for-5 afternoon from shortstop J.P. Crawford, who added a homer of his own.
Florimon added to 40-man roster
The Phillies added infielder/outfielder Pedro Florimon to the 40-man roster, and the 31-year-old journeyman could have a reasonable chance of making the team because of his versatility. Florimon, who batted .348 in 49 plate appearances last season with the Phillies, also has played with the Orioles, Twins and Pirates.
In a corresponding move, the Phillies designated infielder Eliezer Alvarez for assignment. Alvarez, 23, batted .247 in Double-A last season.
The Phillies will start right-hander Zach Eflin on Saturday at 1:05 p.m. ET against the split-squad Atlanta Braves in Clearwater. The Braves will start right-hander Lucas Sims. The game can be seen live on MLB.TV.
Joey Johnston is a contributor to MLB.com.