Thursday, March 3, 2016

Morning Briefing: Velasquez shows power arm in spring debut

By PATRICK GORDON | Managing Editor
March 3, 2016, 10:00 A.M. EST
@PGordonPBR

CLEARWATER, Fla. - Vincent Velasquez firmly believes he's contending for a spot in the Phillies starting rotation.

Yesterday he allowed three hits and three runs in two innings of work. He did not walk a batter and struck out three. Not a great line, but he showed power stuff with a fastball hitting as high as 96 mph on the stadium radar gun.

"I do my best," Velasquez said. "I've had plenty of bullpen sessions and I'm competitive. I've always been on top so I try to keep it that way."

Velasquez is battling, among others, David Buchanan and Brett Oberholtzer for a spot in the rotation. Buchanan tossed a pair of shutout innings yesterday, allowing one hit while also notching a strikeout.

"The biggest thing I wanted to do was stay in the strike zone and keep the ball down," Buchanan said. "This is something I can build off of for my next start."

Oberholtzer, acquired along with Velasquez in the Ken Giles deal with Houston in the off-season, also tossed two shutout innings. He walked one and struck out two.

"It's good to see these guys going after it," said manager Pete Mackanin. "I liked what I saw today."

Other notes
  • The Phillies host the Astros on Thursday in a split-squad game. Jake Thompson is slatted to start while Zach Eflin, Colton Murray, Elvis Araujo, Greg Burke, James Russell, and Ernesto Frieri are all expected to pitch.
  • The Phillies will also send a team to Tampa to face the Yankees. Adam Morgan will start and be followed by Alec Asher, Mark Appel, Daniel Stumpf, and Edward Mujica.
  •  Jeremy Hellickson will start on Friday against visiting Atlanta, and Aaron Nola will start Saturday when the Phillies visit Dunedin to again face the Blue Jays.
  •  Roman Quinn showcased a glimpse of his blazing speed on Wednesday, swiping second base after getting a terrible jump. He finished the afternoon with a hit in three at-bats.
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