Just a few hours after being notified he would break camp as a Phillie, Vincent Velasquez struck out eight while surrendering no runs, walking only three and scattering two hits. But the fantastic pitching performance against one of baseball’s best offenses was not enough. Darin Ruf hit a solo homer in the seventh but Toronto took a 2-1 lead off Dailer Hinjosa on a 3-0, two-out homer in the bottom of the eighth from Darrell Ceciliani. Danny Barnes earned a save in the ninth and the Blue Jays closed it out 2-1 in Dunedin.
Bats for Both Teams Quiet
With at least one outfield spot hanging in the balance, Cedric Hunter (0-2) and David Lough (0-1) were among the many Phillies held hitless in today’s game. The Phillies out hit the Jays five to four but it would be the timing of the hits, specifically the homer blasted by Ceciliani, that would be the difference.
Darin Ruf added to his Spring resume, hitting his fourth homer of the Spring to highlight a 2-4 day, in stark contrast to a two-strikeout, 0-3 day from Ryan Howard. Maikel Franco, Odubel Herrera, and Cameron Rupp all doubled for the Phillies but would remain stranded.
“The Chief” Closing in on Coveted Bullpen Spot
Former All-Star closer Edward Mujica moved one step closer to wrapping up a spot on the 25-man roster, striking out two in the seventh, allowing no hits or walks, lowering his ERA to 2.16. Mujica struggled mightily last season, posting a 4.75 ERA in 49 appearances for Boston and Oakland, almost a full point higher than his career ERA.
Will Venable was signed to a minor league deal after being released by Cleveland. Phillies manager Pete Mackanin stated that Venable was not guaranteed to break camp with the Phillies and advised that he would have to earn his spot on the team. Venable is a third left-handed bat to add to the mix for reserve outfielders that include Hunter and Lough. It is worth noting that the 33-year old Venable hit just .133 in 37 PA this Spring for Cleveland and ended 2015 on a down note (.182/.325/.227 in 82 PA) after being dealt to Texas from San Diego. Venable should be seen as a platoon-option only, with splits deviating at 34, 44, and 93 points respectively in his triple-slash lines and is no longer the player that hit 22 home runs in 2013 for the Padres.