CLEARWATER, Fla. (AP) — Phillies starter Paul Clemens pitched two perfect innings, but Philadelphia lost to the University of Tampa 6-2 Sunday in the first spring training game for a major league team this year.
Detroit and Miami play college teams today, then the regular slate of Grapefruit and Cactus League exhibitions begins Tuesday.
Russ Canzler, Aaron Altherr and Tommy Joseph strung together three straight one-out hits to put the Phillies ahead 2-0 in the second inning.
After that, Philadelphia hitters did little against the No. 1-ranked team in NCAA Division II. The Phillies are projected to have a tough time all season long.
“It kind of shows where we’re at as far as seeing players and workouts and seeing the work that needs to be done,” said Philadelphia manager Ryne Sandberg, kept the majority of his big league starters out of action.
“I think it just emphasizes that. On the offensive side of things, we stress on staying on top of the ball and creating some balls on the ground. We had too many flyball outs,” he said.
Tampa rallied against the Phillies’ bullpen. After right-hander Nefi Ogando issued a two-out, bases-loaded walk to Andrew Amaro — nephew of Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. — to tie it in the seventh, Giovanny Alfonzo followed by hitting a grand slam off Hector Neris.
“Unbelievable,” Alfonzo said. “It’s a dream come true to play against them. But to beat them, you never think it’s going to happen. I probably won’t sleep for the next three days.”
“Our coach told us he has a split-finger, so in the back of my head I knew,” Alfonzo said of Neris. “I saw it out of his hand and the pitch was dancing. So I just said, ‘Throw the (bat) head at it, throw the head at it,’ and luckily I got it. But it was a big league pitch, for sure.”
Alfonzo is in his second season with the Spartans after transferring from Florida State. He is hitting a team-high .412 in college play.
The game drew an announced crowd of 5,154 to Bright House Field, where it was sunny with temperatures in the mid-70s. It was in the 20s with snow and freezing rain back in Philadelphia.
Phillies: Clemens, who pitched in relief for Houston over parts of the last two seasons, didn’t lack for confidence after making his debut for the Phillies. Clemens is a non-roster player on a minor league contract. “I just want to show the staff what I can do,” he said. “I think my stuff plays anywhere with any hitter in this game. Just throw strikes, execute my pitches and let everything else sort itself out.”
Tampa: Junior David Heintz allowed a hit or a walk to six of the 18 batters he faced. The right-hander allowed two runs (one earned) in four innings, striking out two and walking two.
Phillies: 2B Chase Utley will not play in the Phillies’ next game on Tuesday against the New York Yankees, Sandberg said. Utley entered camp with a minor right ankle injury and Sandberg plans to “ease him into games a little bit down the road” this spring.
The Phillies play host to the New York Yankees in the Grapefruit League opener for both teams on Tuesday in Clearwater. Jerome Williams is scheduled to start for the Phillies.
Amaro Jr. waited outside the University of Tampa clubhouse after the game to congratulate his nephew, who drew a key walk. “It was cool,” said the younger Amaro, a Philadelphia-area native. “Obviously my name means something in the Philadelphia area, so it was cool to go out there and compete and happen to have a pretty good game against my favorite hometown team.”