TAMPA, Fla. -- Reliever Francisco Rodriguez may not have the gas he had a decade ago, but so far this spring, he's showing he still has some fuel left in the tank. The veteran righty tossed a scoreless eighth in a 7-6 win over the Yankees at Steinbrenner Field on
TAMPA, Fla. -- Reliever Francisco Rodriguez may not have the gas he had a decade ago, but so far this spring, he's showing he still has some fuel left in the tank. The veteran righty tossed a scoreless eighth in a 7-6 win over the Yankees at Steinbrenner Field on Thursday.
"He's not Frankie from 10 years ago who is going to out-stuff you," manager Gabe Kapler said. "He's now going to outsmart and out-execute you."
Rodriguez, whose fastball topped out at around 90 mph on Thursday, allowed a single to Brandon Drury to lead off the inning but was able to use his full repertoire of offspeed stuff to get out of the frame unscathed. Through five Grapefruit League appearances, the six-time All-Star has not allowed an earned run and has held opponents to a .188 average.
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"I think he's done a great job for us. He's battled," Kapler said. "I think what he has every day is his competitiveness, his tenacity, his grit and his focus."
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The 36-year-old is in camp as a non-roster invitee after signing a Minor League deal in January. After averaging 42 saves per season from 2014 to 2016, Rodriguez is coming off the worst year of his career after going 2-5 with a 7.82 ERA in 20 games for the Tigers in 2017. Should he find a spot on this year's roster, Rodriguez would definitely bring a veteran presence to a young bullpen. During his 16-year career, he has compiled 437 saves in 948 appearances, both tops among active players.
Reliever Yacksel Rios left Thursday's game after just 10 pitches with a mild sprain of his left ankle. He had recorded two outs in the bottom of the ninth when he slipped during a landing of his delivery.
"Nothing to be concerned about," Kapler said. "Just sort of precautionary. We didn't want anything to affect his delivery. He was feeling a little dryness out front, and he slipped a little bit, so we saw that it was probably the right move to get him out of there and keep him safe."
Zac Curtis recorded the final out of the ballgame and picked up the save. Rios is considered day to day.
Non-roster invitee Ryan Flaherty got the start at first base and went 1-for-2 with a sacrifice fly and and an RBI single. The 31-year-old veteran is trying to earn a spot as a super-utility player. Flaherty is a career .215 hitter but has big league experience at every infield position and both corner outfield spots. This spring he is batting .375 with four runs scored.
Catcher Andrew Knapp, who is trying to hold on to the backup backstop role, had a big day at the plate, going 2-for-3 with two doubles and two runs scored.
The Phillies will return home to Spectrum Field on Friday to face the Pirates at 1:05 p.m. ET on MLB.TV and MLB Network. Righty Jerad Eickhoff looks for his second consecutive quality outing as he faces off against Bucs lefty Steven Brault. Closer Hector Neris is also scheduled to pitch for Philly.
J. Scott Butherus is a contributor to MLB.com.