Eickhoff says after 7-5 loss to Twins he's ready for season
CLEARWATER, Fla. (AP) Philadelphia Phillies right-hander Jerad Eickhoff declared himself ready for the season after throwing four innings in his first major league exhibition game of spring training, a 7-5 loss to a Minnesota Twins' split squad on Tuesday.
Acquired in the July trade that sent former World Series MVP Cole Hamels to Texas, Eickhoff entered spring training behind schedule after sustaining a small fracture in his right thumb last month during a bunting drill. He allowed three runs and four hits, struck out seven and walked two.
Eickhoff allowed a pair of solo homers to Daniel Palka and walked Miguel Sano twice.
''I think he was getting me on the heaters there early,'' Eickhoff said of Palka. ''I think it's just one of those things. I'm trying to fill up the strike zone and the ball kind of got up and got out.''
The 25-year-old went 3-3 with a 2.65 ERA in eight starts with the Phillies last year. He likely will make two more exhibition starts.
''Should be right on track,'' Eickhoff said.
Minnesota starter Phil Hughes gave up four runs and nine hits in 5 1/3 innings, struck out nine and walked none. He gave up two runs in the second inning after hitting his leadoff batter.
''I feel like I'm close, and ready,'' Hughes said. ''I had some good swing-and-misses and velocity was right where I wanted it to be.''
Twins: Hughes hasn't walked a batter in three starts and 10 1/3 innings.
Phillies: Eickhoff came to bat in a bunting situation in the second inning on Tuesday but didn't attempt a sacrifice and reached on a fielder's choice following a broken-bat ball up the middle. ''If I had to bunt, I had to bunt,'' Eickhoff said. ''I think it's more mental than anything. Like I said, it'll just take time to have more reps and get back in there to get used to it again.''
Phillies: OF Odubel Herrera missed his ninth straight game with inflammation on his left middle finger, an injury that first occurred while sliding headfirst into home on March 6. Herrera was given a small protective guard to begin hitting with after being re-examined on Tuesday. He hopes to rejoin the lineup by the end of the weekend. ... OF/INF Cody Asche took batting practice and reported no pain. The veteran has not played in an exhibition because of an oblique strain but hopes to be ready by opening day.
Palka, a catching prospect called up from minor league camp, hit 29 homers in 129 games at Class A Visalia last year.
''I know it probably means a lot to a guy coming up for a day, to put up a performance like that,'' Hughes said.
Phillies: Charlie Morton is to start Wednesday against Houston in Kissimmee.
Twins: Ricky Nolasco starts against Minnesota in Fort Myers.