Kintzler, Joyce make Phillies' roster

Roster battles at center field and on the bench still remain

March 27th, 2021

The Phillies offered something of a twist Friday as they moved closer to Opening Day.

They told right-hander and outfielder that they made the team. They also granted left-hander 's request to be released from his Minor League contract, optioned right-hander Spencer Howard to Triple-A and placed outfielder Simon Muzziotti on the restricted list because of visa issues. Phillies manager Joe Girardi said the Kintzler and Watson decisions leave right-handers Vince Velasquez, David Hale and Sam Coonrod and left-hander JoJo Romero competing for the final three spots in the eight-man bullpen.

The Phillies have center field and bench openings, too.

Kintzler and Watson both entered camp on Minor League contracts following successful 2020 seasons with Miami and San Francisco, respectively. Phillies players could not believe their good fortune that they got both pitchers in camp as non-roster invitees. They spoke about them like they were locks to make the team, considering their track records and the fact that the Phillies had the worst bullpen in baseball in 90 years in '20.

But only Kintzler did.

Kintzler had a 1.04 ERA in 8 2/3 innings this spring. Watson had a 7.20 ERA in five innings.

Recent signs pointed to Watson not making the team, but it probably came as a surprise to many fans and even some in the Phillies’ clubhouse in Clearwater, Fla. Watson allowed an earned run in one of only seven appearances this spring.

“We thought Tony had a pretty good camp,” Phillies manager Joe Girardi said. “I don’t think by any means he’s done pitching in the big leagues. We just thought that some of the guys that we have, some of the guys that get lefties out well and wanting some flexibility in our bullpen, that it was the right move to make and to give him an opportunity to catch on with some other club. If we decide to take two left-handers, we have JoJo. And if we don’t, we feel pretty good about our righties to get out lefties, so that’s why we made that move.”

Kintzler will make $3 million this season. Watson would have made $3 million, too. Finances might have come into play as the Phillies approach the $210 million luxury-tax threshold. They might not have wanted to roll the dice on Watson because of their confidence in other pitchers in camp, like Romero and Coonrod, who will make near the league minimum. Cutting ties with Watson allows the Phillies to maintain a level of financial flexibility, if they need to make more moves in July.

Right-handers Héctor Neris, Archie Bradley, Connor Brogdon and Kintzler and left-hander José Alvarado are locks to make the bullpen. Girardi has said he likes the idea of having two long men. Velasquez and Hale are the only two left. They also are out of options, which seems to give them another edge to make the team.

If the Phillies feel they can live with Alvarado as the only left-hander, the final job could go to Coonrod. It would be somewhat surprising to have only one lefty in the bullpen, though.

“That decision may go down until Monday or Tuesday,” Girardi said.

Howard has thrown only three innings in the Grapefruit League because of back spasms. They planned to monitor his workload anyway because of shoulder issues the past two seasons. His truncated spring cinched his trip to Triple-A.

“We don’t want him to rush and try to do too much too early,” Girardi said.

Joyce will join catcher Andrew Knapp as the only locks on the five-man bench. Brad Miller is sidelined with an oblique issue. If he is healthy, he will make the team. The Phillies still need to figure out center field. Odúbel Herrera and Roman Quinn are considered the favorites, but Adam Haseley’s return this week from a strained left adductor could push him onto the 26-man roster.

Scott Kingery could make the team as a utility player, although he has not played much infield this spring. He has options remaining. Ronald Torreyes can play in the infield, but he is not on the 40-man roster.

There are a lot of ways this could go.

“It wasn’t easy, mentally,” Kintzler said about making the team as a non-roster invitee. “It was definitely a grind. But luckily, they gave me every opportunity to make the team, and the fact that I made it is a relief. I think the easy part now is trying to win games. I think this part was definitely a lot harder than the regular season.”

Extra bases
• Girardi said third baseman Alec Bohm felt better after feeling some tightness in his left groin on Thursday. He could play as early as Sunday.

Bryce Harper homered in a 6-5 loss to the Blue Jays at TD Ballpark in Dunedin, Fla. Rhys Hoskins, Scott Kingery and Nick Maton doubled.

• Chase Anderson allowed one run in four innings. He has a 3.07 ERA this spring. He will be the team’s No. 5 starter.

• Alvarado (1.17 ERA) struck out one in a scoreless inning. He walked three and threw three wild pitches in 2/3 inning Thursday. Neris (2.08 ERA) struck out two in a scoreless inning.