Asche keeps homers coming, backs Buchanan's strong outing

Third baseman's two-run blast adds to righty's scoreless five innings

Asche keeps homers coming, backs Buchanan's strong outing

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Phillies third baseman Cody Asche hit his third home run in five days in Monday's 3-0 victory over the Twins at Bright House Field.

Asche will be the team's Opening Day third baseman as the organization hopes to see him take a step forward from 2014, when he hit .252 with 25 doubles, 10 home runs and 46 RBIs in 397 at-bats.

"Cody has a nice swing working," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. "He's making good contact. Another thing that he's doing is laying off pitches, avoiding strikeouts and having the count come back to him for strikes to hit. He continues to do real well, a real steady bat for us."

The Twins, meanwhile, managed just five hits and were held scoreless for the first time in 20 Grapefruit League games this spring.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED

Pelfrey turns in another solid outing: Twins right-hander Mike Pelfrey, who is competing for the fifth spot in the rotation with Tommy Milone and Trevor May, was impressive again outside of the two-run homer he surrendered to Asche in the second inning. Pelfrey went 4 2/3 innings, giving up two runs (one earned) on seven hits and two walks with two strikeouts. Pelfrey has a 1.32 ERA in 13 2/3 innings this spring.

Pelfrey ends the inning

"I think there were a lot of positives out of today, but there were also a lot of negatives," Pelfrey said. "I think command was an issue today without a lot of first-pitch strikes. I've made four starts, and I think first-pitch strikes were only good in one of them, so it's something I need to get better at. But I feel like my arm strength is better."

Buchanan deals: Phillies right-hander David Buchanan continues to pitch well this spring. He allowed two hits and struck out three in five scoreless innings. He has allowed just three earned runs in 16 innings this spring.

Buchanan's scoreless start

Escobar sees his first action in the outfield: Eduardo Escobar is competing for the starting shortstop job with Danny Santana, but he is more likely to open the season as a super-utility player despite his hot start offensively this spring. So the Twins wanted him to play some outfield this spring, and he made his first appearance there in the fifth, when he moved from third base to left field for the remainder of the game. Escobar has made five career appearances in the outfield, including four in left and one in center.

Escobar moves to the outfield

"It's a good thing for us," Twins general manager Terry Ryan said. "We like versatility. [Eduardo] Nunez has also been out there, and now Escobar is out there. Versatility is important when you carry 12 pitchers because you don't have much of a bench."

Revere continues to get looks in left: Ben Revere has played exclusively in center field since he joined the Phillies in December 2012, but he has played three consecutive games in left field as the Phillies take a look at Rule 5 Draft pick Odubel Herrera. Herrera has been hitting this spring, and the coaching staff is looking for a way to get Herrera's bat in the lineup.

Revere gets the out in left

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS

The National Baseball Hall of Fame said it believes Monday's game is the first time two current Hall of Famers have faced each other as managers. Twins manager Paul Molitor was inducted in 2004. Sandberg was inducted in 2005.

QUOTABLE

"The fact that it's never happened before is kind of an interesting little piece of trivia, but for me, it's more about managing against a friend." -- Molitor, on managing against Sandberg, the first time two current Hall of Famers have managed against each other

WHAT'S NEXT

The Twins host the Blue Jays on Tuesday at 1:05 p.m. ET at Hammond Stadium with right-hander Ricky Nolasco set to make his fourth start of the spring. Twins closer Glen Perkins is also scheduled to make his second Grapefruit League appearance after missing time early in camp with a mild right oblique strain.

The Phillies travel to Lake Buena Vista, Fla., to play the Braves on Tuesday afternoon, live on MLB.TV at 1:05 p.m. ET. Right-hander Aaron Harang will hang back in Clearwater to pitch a Minor League game at Carpenter Complex. He has missed a couple starts this spring because of back problems. Phillies prospect Severino Gonzalez will start. He is the organization's No. 15 prospect, according to MLBPipeline.com.

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.