Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Phillies Morning Briefing: Franco feeling comfortable in camp


By PATRICK GORDON | Managing Editor
March 9,  2016, 8:00 A.M. EST.
@PGordonPBR 

CLEARWATER, Fla. - It all comes down to experience for Maikel Franco.

At this time last year, the 23-year-old found himself struggling in camp. He had an opportunity to make an impression and secure a starting role, but he instead floundered, hitting .200 with no homers and just one RBI before being sent back to the minor league camp.

Franco is 5-for-13 this spring with a pair of home runs and six RBIs.

It's the old adage, experience breeds confidence.

"I feel more comfortable with playing the game and feel comfortable in the clubhouse because I played last year in spring training and a little big league,” Franco said Monday. "I feel much better now."

Franco is coming off an excellent rookie season cut short by a broken left wrist. He batted .280 with 14 homers and 50 RBIs in only 80 games. He earned strong consideration for NL Rookie of the Year, but the injury derailed his chances. He enters the 2016 campaign as a pillar of the Phillies rebuilding effort with an everyday spot in the lineup.

"It's my time and I just go out there and have fun," Franco said. "I'm playing every single day. When I come in, I see the lineup and I know that I'm playing. That means a lot of for me because that's what I've been looking for."

"He just seems to be playing with a lot more confidence now," added Phillies manager Pete Mackanin. "He looks great so far."

Injury update
Aaron Altherr was scheduled to see a specialist Monday in Philadelphia about his injured left wrist.

Altherr initially downplayed the injury, but his wrist has been in a split since Friday.

Elsewhere, Phillies right-hander Jerad Eickhoff has begun rehab after suffering a fractured right thumb. He threw to hitters Sunday and expects to make his first spring training appearance by the end of the week.

Rotation battle
Vincent Velasquez and Brett Oberholtzer combined to toss six shutout innings Monday as the Phillies blanked the Pirates, 1-0.

Both hurlers are competing for a spot in the Phillies rotation.

Velasquez surrendered three hits and a walk over three innings. He whiffed three.

Oberholtzer allowed four hits over three innings and collected one strikeout.

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