BRADENTON, Fla. -- Phillies starter Vince Velasquez finished off an impressive spring campaign with another scoreless outing in Philadelphia's 6-3 win over the Pirates at LECOM Park on Monday. Velasquez scattered three hits and walked one. He did not allow a hit until Adam Frazier's slap single through the right
BRADENTON, Fla. -- Phillies starter Vince Velasquez finished off an impressive spring campaign with another scoreless outing in Philadelphia's 6-3 win over the Pirates at LECOM Park on Monday. Velasquez scattered three hits and walked one. He did not allow a hit until Adam Frazier's slap single through the right side in the third.
"It felt really good," Velasquez said. "The first inning was a little long, but I settled in just fine after that."
The Phillies announced after the game that Nick Pivetta and Velasquez would follow Aaron Nola -- in Games 2 and 3, respectively -- as starters in the club's Opening Series against the Braves.
The 25-year-old Velasquez has been effective and healthy all spring, compiling a 2.51 ERA with 15 strikeouts in 14 1/3 innings. He said he was happy with his transition from thrower to pitcher, a process which included trying to work ahead in the count with his mid-90's fastball -- as he did on Monday, resulting in three strikeouts -- and pitching more to contact.
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"Sometimes you've got to be a little bit conservative," Velasquez said. "You've got to try and get outs and not try to get punchy. That's all part of being a pitcher, and that's what I want to display myself as."
Phillies manager Gabe Kapler has noticed the third-year starter doing some of those little things as well, whether it is climbing the ladder with his fastball to get a swing and miss or holding runners on base out of the stretch.
"What we've seen with Vinnie is that he is very slowly starting to make some of the adjustments that we've asked him to make," Kapler said. "What we are most excited about is the grit and the drive and the determination. He's gone through the tough parts of various lineups. He's been put in some tough spots, some challenging spots where he's had a high pitch count. We wanted see how he was going to come back from those [outings] and see if his intensity and his stuff is going to still be there. And that's exactly what we saw."
Most importantly, Velasquez showed no lingering effects this spring of the finger surgery that cost him the final two months of the 2017 season.
"This Spring Training was huge with just health and staying strong all through the spring," Velasquez said. "I think my body has been responding very well. ... It went by pretty fast, but everything has been kind of clicking the right way."
Along with the addition of infielder Scott Kingery to the 25-man roster, the Phillies optioned right-handed starter Zach Eflin, lefty reliever Zac Curtis and outfielder Roman Quinn to Triple-A Lehigh Valley and granted catcher Cameron Rupp his unconditional release before Monday's game. Philly also signed veteran utility man Alexi Amarista to a Minor League deal.
Quinn had a solid spring, playing in 22 games and batting .268 (11-for-41) with a home run and five driven in. His nine stolen bases were most in either the Grapefruit or Cactus Leagues.
The 23-year-old Eflin stumbled in his final two Grapefruit League appearances, allowing six earned runs in 4 2/3 innings. He finished the spring with a 5.79 ERA, though he did have 11 strikeouts in his 14 innings. His assignment effectively ends the competition for the final spot in the rotation, which will now go to right-hander Ben Lively (1-1, 3.13 ERA). Curtis had a good spring, allowing just one earned run in seven innings and striking out nine.
Amarista, who will report to the team's Minor League camp in Clearwater, Fla., was batting .190 in 42 at-bats this spring before being released by the Tigers.
The Phillies will wrap up their Grapefruit League season when they host the Pirates at Spectrum Field on Tuesday at 1:05 p.m. ET. Philadelphia will send Jacob Arrieta to the mound to face off against Pittsburgh's Jameson Taillon. The game will air for free on MLB.TV.
J. Scott Butherus is a contributor to MLB.com.