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Notes: Howard sent out; Hoskins fine-tuning

Arano still building up; Segura fine after HBP
@ToddZolecki
July 21, 2020

PHILADELPHIA -- Spencer Howard might not start the sixth game of the 2020 season, like Bryce Harper strongly suggested last week, but Howard continues to make his case for a job in the rotation at some point this year. He pitched four scoreless innings in Tuesday’s intrasquad scrimmage at Citizens

PHILADELPHIA -- Spencer Howard might not start the sixth game of the 2020 season, like Bryce Harper strongly suggested last week, but Howard continues to make his case for a job in the rotation at some point this year.

He pitched four scoreless innings in Tuesday’s intrasquad scrimmage at Citizens Bank Park, allowing one hit and two walks. The right-hander struck out four.

“Pretty good,” manager Joe Girardi said. “His changeup was really effective tonight. His fastball is sneaky to me. He’s got that easy delivery and it just kind of comes out at you. I thought he threw really well in camp and we’re really excited about him.”

Howard, who is the club's No. 2 prospect and MLB Pipeline’s No. 34 prospect overall, was transferred to Lehigh Valley afterward, along with right-handers Mauricio Llovera and Addison Russ and catcher Logan O’Hoppe. But Howard was not expected to open the season with the team anyway because of service time considerations. If he is not on the roster the first five days of the season, the Phillies gain an extra season of control. Effectively, by waiting at least five days, Howard will not become a free agent until after the 2026 season instead of '25.

Girardi announced that right-hander Aaron Nola will start Opening Day on Friday night against the Marlins. Right-hander Zack Wheeler will pitch Saturday, but everything after that remains unclear. The Phillies need to see how right-hander Zach Eflin, who is behind schedule after missing time in camp because of back spasms, performs in Thursday’s simulated game. Vince Velasquez seems to have a line on a job. Nick Pivetta remains in the mix, too.

“The decision will be made probably after Thursday,” Girardi said about his rotation for the first week of the season.

Harrison released, Gosselin in the mix
Non-roster invitee Josh Harrison requested and was granted his release on Tuesday. It puts non-roster invitee Phil Gosselin into a stronger position to make the Opening Day roster. Gosselin had four more hits Tuesday after going 3-for-3 the previous three days in exhibitions against the Nationals, Orioles and Yankees.

“He’s made a real push here and hasn’t gone unnoticed,” Girardi said. “They kind of nicknamed him ‘Barrels’ because he also gets the barrel of the bat to the ball.”

Rosters must be set by noon ET Thursday. Non-roster invitee Ronald Torreyes also remains in the mix for a utility job.

Hoskins goes back to old reliable
Rhys Hoskins tweaked his batting stance in Spring Training, lowering his hands and standing more upright than he had in the past. He planned to carry the look into the season, but Hoskins is somewhat back to his former stance, holding his hands higher.

“I thought it was going well in the spring, but then the pandemic hit and I was unable to get live reps,” Hoskins said. “Since we’ve gotten back, it’s turned into more of a hybrid between those changes and what I’ve done in the past.”

Hoskins got a few extra at-bats late in Tuesday’s scrimmage, trying to get a few more swings before Opening Day on Friday.

“I think, especially for me, and there are some other hitters also, that operate a lot off feel,” he said. “I found myself getting a little bit too mechanical in some of these intrasquad and exhibition games. I talked with [hitting coach] Joe Dillon and the rest of the staff, and we had thought that the work we had done over the past five or six months was really going to help with something I was already familiar with, so I think we’ll see the adjustments kind of form into a little bit of a hybrid. Right now, I’m feeling pretty good. I’m feeling pretty comfortable with it. I feel strong in the box. I feel like I’m seeing the ball well.”

Arano is still building
Right-hander Vìctor Arano's fastball sat in the 90-91 mph range in his one inning of work on Tuesday, which is not encouraging. His fastball averaged 93.6 mph last season and 93.9 mph in 2018, indicating he needs more time before pitching in the big leagues. Arano entered camp behind schedule because of an injured right shoulder.

“We’re trying to catch him up,” Girardi said. “We’re going to continue to discuss where we think he’s at, but it’s tough when you start from behind.”

Extra bases
• Jean Segura is fine after being hit on the left hand with a pitch in Mondays’s exhibition game against the Yankees. He took batting practice Tuesday after X-rays came back negative.

• O’Hoppe hit an inside-the-park home run on Tuesday. The ball bounced off the top of the right-center-field wall and kicked back toward the infield. The Phillies selected O’Hoppe in the 23rd round of the 2018 Draft out of St. John the Baptist High School in West Islip, N.Y.

• Phillies Minor League outfield coordinator Andy Abad, 47, not only played first base during intrasquad action, he also hit in the eighth inning. He singled.

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook .