Mackanin happy with Phillies' defense, hustle

March 1st, 2016

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- It is the little things that Phillies manager Pete Mackanin noticed in the Grapefruit League opener on Tuesday at Bright House Field.

Odubel Herrera made a nice catch on a sinking line drive in center field in the fifth inning of a 5-3 loss to the Blue Jays. Aaron Altherr threw out a runner at the plate to end the fifth. And Maikel Franco showed some hustle and reached second base on an error by Blue Jays left fielder Jon Berti in the sixth.

The Phillies are keeping Herrera in center, despite the offseason arrival of Peter Bourjos. Altherr is trying to earn regular playing time as one of the corner outfielders. And the team simply wants to take advantage of any opportunities it can on offense.

"That's the kind of thing we're looking for and get everybody to do," Mackanin said of Franco's play.

Go the distance

The Phillies want to be careful with their young starters this season, but they don't want to baby them either.

Mackanin said starters like Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff and possibly others could pitch 200 innings this season, if necessary.

No, the other J.P.

Phillies prospect J.P. Crawford is not the only J.P. in camp. J.P. Arencibia has played 467 games and hit 80 home runs in his six-year career. He went 2-for-3 with one home run on Tuesday, providing much of the Phillies' offense.

The Phillies signed Arencibia to a Minor League contract with an invitation to Spring Training in December. He figures to provide catching depth in the event something happens to Carlos Ruiz or Cameron Rupp.

Arencibia served as the DH on Tuesday.

"It's funny," Mackanin said, "when we were exchanging lineups, [Blue Jays manager John] Gibbons came up to shake my hand. Gibby looked at [Arencibia] and said, 'You're DHing?' Yeah, he swung the bat well."

Asche still mending

Outfielder Cody Asche remains sidelined with a sore oblique. Mackanin said Asche is day to day and could begin some outfield work on Wednesday.

"He needs to get in there and start swinging the bat," Mackanin said. "He's kind of down in the dumps right now because he can't get on the field."