PHILADELPHIA -- Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez threw to hitters on Sunday as he builds up arm strength after dealing with tendinitis in his right shoulder during Spring Training, and the Phillies were encouraged by what they saw.
"I got word yesterday that he's throwing the ball well and he's healthy and he looks completely different -- a lot different -- than Spring Training," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said before Tuesday's game against the Mets. "Better velocity and better stuff. That's good news."
Gonzalez is on the 60-day disabled list and still has a lengthy rehab process ahead of him. However, fellow right-hander Ethan Martin and outfielder/first baseman Darin Ruf are getting closer to being activated from the DL.
Ruf (strained left oblique) has been taking batting practice and will play in extended spring training games "within two or three days," according to Sandberg. The manager said Ruf would split time between left field and first base once he begins a Minor League rehab assignment.
Meanwhile, Martin (strained right shoulder) has progressed to pitching in extend spring training games. Martin made eight starts for the Phillies last season, but the club is looking at him as a reliever this year.
Phillies looking for more production out of hot corner
PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies could use some more production offensively from their third baseman, and manager Ryne Sandberg is looking for a solution.
Entering Tuesday, Cody Asche, Freddy Galvis and Jayson Nix had combined for a .493 OPS at the hot corner, which ranks as the lowest output since the 1981 Blue Jays had a .516 OPS from their third basemen.
The Phillies were hoping for more from Asche, who began the season as the clear starter. But Asche has a .200/.273/.300 slash line in 22 games (16 starts) and saw his playing time decrease last week. Nix, who started on Tuesday against the Mets, and Galvis have seen more time at third recently, but haven't contributed much with the bat.
Galvis is in a 1-for-30 skid to open the season. He missed time at the end of Spring Training due to an infection and began the year on the disabled list, which Sandberg attributed in part to his slow start. The Phillies like Galvis for his glove and defensive versatility, and the manager thinks the he can develop into more than just a utility player.
"I do, just because he's a baseball player and he's a heads-up player," Sandberg said. "He has good hands. I think he can hit from .250 to .275, I believe, down the road and hopefully this year."
Phillies top prospect Maikel Franco could be an option down the road, but he's been struggling in Triple-A this year. In 23 games with the IronPigs, Franco is hitting .172 with a .487 OPS.
Hernandez to be skipped, available out of 'pen
PHILADELPHIA -- Phillies right-hander Roberto Hernandez has been skipped in the rotation this week after he pitched Tuesday out of the bullpen.
The Phillies are off on Thursday and won't need a fifth starter until May 6 against the Blue Jays. Hernandez is 1-1 with a 5.81 ERA in five starts this season.
"There's a chance that Roberto will be skipped of his start with the day off," manager Ryne Sandberg said before Tuesday's game against the Mets.
Hernandez is a logical choice to join the 'pen in the short term because the Phillies could use another right-handed option, and the veteran has made 39 relief appearances in his career.
"He's no mystery to throwing down in the bullpen, he knows the routine," Sandberg said. "For an inning or two, that could be good the next few days."