Phillies get 'cobwebs out' in spring-opening exhibition loss

GM Amaro's nephew scores tying run for University of Tampa in comeback win

Phillies get 'cobwebs out' in spring-opening exhibition loss

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg downplayed the end result Sunday afternoon at Bright House Field.

The Phillies scheduled an exhibition against the University of Tampa, which is the No. 1 Division II baseball team in the country. The club wanted to give its younger players and non-roster invitees some work against the wide-eyed kids before opening the Grapefruit League season Tuesday against the Yankees.

Philadelphia lost to the amateurs, 6-2.

"Well, you know," Sandberg said, asked if it was embarrassing to lose to a college team, "it kind of shows where we're at as far as seeing players and workouts and seeing the work that needs to be done. I think it just emphasizes that."

Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Carlos Ruiz and other Phillies veterans never touched the field, but the youngest player on the field for the Phils (Odubel Herrera, who was born Dec. 29, 1991) was older than every player on the Spartans. They also have years of professional experience in the Minor Leagues.

In a twist, the Spartans took the lead in the seventh inning with a big assist from Andrew Amaro, the nephew of Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. The Spartans first baseman worked a bases-loaded, two-out, nine-pitch walk against right-hander Nefi Ogando to score the tying run.

"It was one of my coolest baseball games ever," said Amaro, who is from Bensalem, Pa., and attended Penn Charter. "Obviously my name means something in the Philadelphia area. It was just cool to go out there and compete and have a pretty good game against my favorite hometown team."

Amaro said there was no trash talking with his uncle leading up to the exhibition.

"My uncle said he didn't even know about the game until four days ago," he said.

Right-hander Hector Neris replaced Ogando, but served up a grand slam to Giovanny Alfonzo to give the Spartans the four-run lead.

"That was awesome," Amaro said. "Giovanny is on Cloud 9. He said that was the coolest experience of his life."

It wasn't for the Phillies.

"You just get some of the cobwebs out," Sandberg said. "It kind of shows after some practices where we're at on certain things."

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.