Nola sees room to improve after facing Tigers

Potential Opening Day starter gives up two runs in 2 2/3 innings

Nola sees room to improve after facing Tigers

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Aaron Nola prides himself on his tremendous control throwing a baseball.

He isn't there yet. He allowed four hits, two runs, one walk and one wind-aided home run in 2 2/3 innings Thursday in a 6-6 tie with the Tigers in a Grapefruit League game at Bright House Field. He threw 65 pitches (45 strikes). He struck out four.

"I feel like I should be better than I was making some pitches that I did today," Nola said. "But I'm going to continue to work in my throwing sessions and my side session as camp goes on."

Nola has allowed eight hits, six runs and two walks with four strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings in two Spring Training starts.

"I feel like there's still a lot of work that needs to be done," he said. "I'm just going to try to continue to work on all my pitches, the running game and pretty much all overall aspects of my pitching. Throwing all three of my pitches for quality strikes when I need to. The biggest thing is getting ahead of most guys. That's what I want to be better at than I was today and my last outing."

"He didn't have his command," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "He was all over the place. Just a matter of his command. His stuff was there. He just didn't make good pitches."

Nola is expected to start Opening Day or the second game of the season, which would put him in line to pitch the homer opener on April 11 against the Padres at Citizens Bank Park.

Nola on outing against Tigers

Franco power
Maikel Franco has looked more than capable this spring of following up his successful rookie season with another strong performance.

Franco hit a pair of home runs Thursday. He is hitting .350 (7-for-20) with four home runs and 10 RBIs in eight games.

"He looks so much different than he has in past springs," Mackanin said. "I think he feels like he's in for a big year, and I'm hoping he is. I'm going to have to start telling guys, 'Look, if you hit one home run you're going to have to hit two.' That seems to be the standard."

Mackanin is referring to Darin Ruf and Cameron Rupp, who each hit two home runs in a split-squad on Wednesday.

Must C: Franco lifts two homers

Eickhoff gets the green light
Right-hander Jerad Eickhoff has not appeared in a game this spring because of a fractured right thumb, which he suffered last month. But he is scheduled to pitch three innings Saturday in a Minor League game at Carpenter Complex.

The Phillies said they expect Eickhoff to be ready to join the rotation by Opening Day.

"We're being optimistic about that," Mackanin said. "He has no pain. He has no problems. He's throwing his curveball, slider and changeup in his sides and live BP, so as long as he's 100 percent healthy … it's just a matter of getting him stretched out enough. I think we can do it."

Extra bases
• Right-hander Ernesto Frieri allowed two runs, including a go-ahead home run, in the ninth inning to blow the save. Frieri is in camp as a non-roster invitee and as a candidate to close. He has a 9.82 ERA (four earned runs in 3 2/3 innings) in three appearances.

"His velocity is down from what he used to be," Mackanin said. "We haven't ruled him out. We've all seen pitchers struggle. Even good pitchers. There is time left to make decisions."

• Non-roster invitee Ryan Jackson hit a game-tying homer in the bottom of the ninth.

• The Phillies botched a rundown at third base, allowing Nate Schierholtz to score in the fifth. Third baseman Angelys Nina's throw to the plate was high.

"I wasn't really happy about that," Mackanin said. "Back to the drawing board. We'll keep working on it."

Jackson's game-tying solo shot

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone, follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.