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Joaquin Benoit criticizes Pete Mackanin’s bullpen management


The Phillies’ bullpen has hit the skids as of late. On Tuesday against the Mariners, the ‘pen coughed up five runs in 5 1/3 innings. On Wednesday afternoon, the Phillies bullpen surrendered eight runs in three innings of work versus the M’s. Joaquin Benoit was on the hook for five of those runs on Wednesday while recording only one out, giving up three walks, a single, and two doubles.

After the game, Benoit took full responsibility for his struggles, Ed Benkin of KYW Sports reports. But Benoit also criticized the way manager Pete Mackanin has handled the bullpen, moving pitchers in and out of various roles. For example, Jeanmar Gomez started the season as the closer, but was quickly taken out in favor of Benoit. Benoit struggled, so the role went to Hector Neris. Neris struggled, and now it’s been essentially a closer-by-committee, though the Phillies haven’t had many leads to protect in the ninth inning lately.

Benoit said, “I believe that if we have a set role, everybody will fall in place. Right now I think everybody is a different piece.” He added, “It would be better if everybody knows what their role is and when you are going to contribute. Right now, I’m all over the place. It’s a little consistency not just for the pitching staff, but the people that run it, too. It works if you find a place for everybody.”

After Wednesday’s outing, the 39-year-old Benoit is sporting a 5.79 ERA with a 14/10 K/BB ratio in 14 innings. The Phillies signed him to a one-year, $7.5 million contract in December to help buoy an otherwise mostly youthful bullpen, but that hasn’t been the case thus far.

Chris Sale exits game with hip contusion

Chris Sale
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Red Sox left-hander Chris Sale made a hasty exit from his final Grapefruit League outing on Saturday after sustaining a left hip contusion. He was struck on the leg with a line drive from the Astros’ J.D. Davis in the first inning and immediately collapsed on the mound. He was able to walk off the field without a noticeable limp, however, and later told reporters that the ball struck a nerve and temporarily stunned his leg. As a precautionary move, the Red Sox pulled him after the incident and will have the left-hander undergo X-rays to rule out any further injury to his hip.

This was expected to be Sale’s last start of spring training. Prior to Saturday’s matinee against the Astros, the 28-year-old southpaw made three starts in camp, allowing five runs, one home run, three walks and striking out 18 batters in 14 innings. He’s still on track to start the season for the Red Sox during their road opener against the Rays next Thursday.