Mackanin: 'Right now, Jeanmar's the closer'

February 14th, 2017

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Pete Mackanin will save his best speech for Friday, when the Phillies have their first full-squad workout at Carpenter Complex.

"I'm going to be to the point, basically, that there's going to be some jobs available, and this game is all about competition and 'What have you done for me lately?'" Mackanin said following Tuesday's pitchers and catchers workout. "You have to earn your right to stay at the big league level. It's easier to get the big leagues than it is to stay in the big leagues, and I just want them to play with energy, play hard, compete on a pitch-by-pitch basis and play a full nine innings."

But it appears there will be no competition to be the Phillies' closer, which is a change in thinking from the past. After posted a 13.20 ERA the final month-and-a-half of the season, Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said in November that "it's reasonable to say we may not have an anointed closer on Day 1 of Spring Training." He reiterated that sentiment in December at the Winter Meetings. Mackanin concurred.

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But Mackanin loosened his stance last month. He said about the closer's competition, "I wouldn't say it's wide open. I'm going to give Gomez every opportunity to show that he's the guy that pitched the first five months and not the guy that pitched in September."

Mackanin made that point even clearer Tuesday.

"I believe he deserves to be called our closer at this point," Mackanin said. "We certainly have some guys to go to, with [Hector] Neris and [Joaquin] Benoit and [Edubray] Ramos. The guys who have shown closer's stuff. But right now, Jeanmar's the closer."

Gomez saved 37 games in 2016 but he also gave up 22 earned runs in 15 innings (19 appearances) from Aug. 14 through the end of the season. He lost his job in the final week of the season. Neris, who might have the best stuff in the bullpen, went 4-4 with a 2.58 ERA and two saves in 79 appearances. He struck out 102 batters in 80 1/3 innings.

"I want to show Jeanmar the confidence he deserves after the year he had -- even though he had a hiccup at the end," Mackanin said.

There are probably at least two bullpen jobs available with right-handers Gomez, Neris, Benoit, Ramos and Pat Neshek locks. Left-handers , and figure to be in the running for the spots. Morgan has started in the past, and he will be stretched out this spring, but Mackanin said he has a chance to make the team as a reliever.

"We have a good mix of young and experienced pitchers," Mackanin said. "I'm real satisfied with what I'm looking at right now."

Injury update

• Right-hander has some minor soreness in his right wrist, which developed in workouts. He said he is about a week behind schedule, but he is improving. He has been throwing on flat ground.

• Mackanin said right-hander has "a question mark about his arm," although he said the injuries in camp are "nothing of any great importance." Second baseman jammed his shoulder in winter ball. He is on the mend.