Klentak pleased with Phillies' outfield defense

Klentak pleased with Phillies' outfield defense

PHILADELPHIA -- Following Tuesday's 3-0 win, Phillies manager Pete Mackanin specifically referenced Tyler Goeddel's glove possibly leading to more playing time, even while his bat continues to come around.

Before the third of a four-game set against the Padres on Wednesday, general manager Matt Klentak echoed and expanded on that. In his first meeting with reporters since the regular season began, Klentak said he was pleased with the way his offseason plans have transferred over to the field.

"I can just look back upon what we talked about this offseason," Klentak said. "Which was trying to improve our pitching, but also improve our defense, which would in turn help the pitching."

Entering Wednesday, Phillies outfielders had gone 14-for-80 (.175) to start the season. The starting rotation, however, had the highest combined wins above replacement (WAR) in baseball. Has the improved outfield defense played a part in that? It's probably too small of sample size to determine. But Klentak has seen glimpses he likes.

"[Peter] Bourjos made a catch in the gap the other day that kind of doesn't get a lot of attention because it wasn't a fully stretched dive," Klentak said. "But I think the way we measure it, that's a play that the average right fielder doesn't make. And that doesn't show up in the box score, it unfortunately doesn't hit his triple slash line, but there's obviously value in that. ...

"It's hard not to be pleased with what we've seen so far in the run prevention area."

The Phillies' outfield was tied with the Rangers in defensive runs saved (DRS), with four, after the first eight games.

Injury update
Although Mackanin said he was hopeful first baseman Darin Ruf would be available to pinch-hit on Tuesday, Ruf said on Wednesday that he wasn't able to lift his left arm above his shoulder. He received a cortisone shot on Tuesday and is still considered day to day with a rotator cuff contusion.

"Today it feels a whole lot better," Ruf said. "I got a cortisone shot, I've taken some anti-inflammatories. So, it feels a lot better -- a lot better -- today."

With left-hander Drew Pomeranz starting for the Padres on Thursday, Ruf said he's not sure if he'll be ready to regain his half of the first-base platoon with Ryan Howard.

Klentak reiterated Mackanin's message from Tuesday. This time in the form of Cody Asche, saying he's in "good spirits." However, Asche (oblique) is on the same timetable as he was when he began his injury rehab.

"He's likely to begin a hitting progression sometime the first week of May and then from there we'll just see how his body responds," Klentak said. "That's the one thing about obliques, you can't rush them."

Weather watch
Thanks to northeast weather patterns -- and a schedule that included two series in upstate New York to start the season -- Philadelphia's Triple-A affiliate, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, have had a difficult time getting in games. Four of Lehigh Valley's first seven games were postponed due to weather. Two have been made up.

That's given Klentak an even smaller sample size to evaluate. He said he hasn't learned anything about newly acquired outfielder Wil Venable other than the brief stint he saw at the end of Spring Training.

Top prospects Jake Thompson and Mark Appel, however, have each gotten in one start, combining for 10 2/3 innings and 10 strikeouts, allowing only one earned run.

"Right now, the most important thing is these guys continue to work on their development," Klentak said. "Mixing pitches, throwing strikes and putting themselves in a position where they're ready to pitch at [a Major League] level."

Evan Webeck is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.