Franco homers twice for Phils, has 4 in 8 games
CLEARWATER, Fla. (AP) — Maikel Franco hit a pair of two-run homers off Jordan Zimmermann, giving him four in the eight spring training games he has played this year and helping the Philadelphia Phillies tie the Detroit Tigers 6-6 Thursday.
The 23-year-old hit 14 home runs in 80 games last year during his breakout rookie season, cut short by a wrist injury in August.
“He looks so much different than he has in past springs,” Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. “I think he feels he’s in for a big year, and I’m hoping he is.”
Zimmermann allowed four runs and five hits in 3 2/3 innings.
“He likes to get his arm extended and if you leave something over the middle, he’s going to make you pay,” Zimmermann said of Franco. “They have a lot of young guys on that team, and they’re free swingers. It’s a little more difficult to set them up when you know they’re probably going to be hacking and knowing I throw a lot of strikes, they’re going to be up there swinging.”
Zimmermann signed a $110 million, five-year contract with the Tigers after spending his first seven big league seasons with Washington. He threw 49 pitches.
“I feel good,” Zimmermann said. “I’m right where I need to be. Hopefully I’ll get up to 70 or so in the next start and keep building from that. I feel good, feel healthy.”
Philadelphia led 5-4 entering the ninth inning, but Ernesto Frieri gave up a sacrifice fly and a home run to consecutive batters.
Tigers: Zimmermann was upbeat about his second game. “Other than those two pitches and the walk, they were the only things that killed me,” he said. “It’s still early. The slider isn’t quite there, but it’ll come.”
Phillies: Aaron Nola gave up a wind-aided two-run homer to James McCann in the third inning. Nola has allowed six earned runs in 4 2/3 innings in two starts.
“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 sessions as camp goes on.”
Phillies: OF/INF Cody Asche had an MRI on his ailing right oblique that showed a grade 1 strain. He remains day to day but has been stopped from the light hitting work he had been doing in the last week. ... RHP Charlie Morton was scratched from his scheduled start on Friday with flu-like symptoms. ... 1B Ryan Howard, who was out of the lineup for most of the last week with flu-like symptoms, is to return to the lineup Friday against the Braves.
Tigers: OF Justin Upton was back in Detroit’s lineup on Thursday after being pulled from Wednesday’s game in the second inning. Upton had turned his left ankle in a near-collision in the outfield with Anthony Gose on Thursday.
Three of the Phillies top pitching prospects were reassigned to minor league camp: RHPs Mark Appel, Jake Thompson and Zach Eflin.
Tigers: RHP Michael Fulmer is to pitch against Houston at Kissimmee.
Phillies: RHP David Buchanan is to face Atlanta at Kissimmee.