Dominican Republic crushes Phillies 15-2 in exhibition

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The Phillies meant to give the Dominican Republic a proper tuneup on Tuesday, going so far as to start likely ace Cole Hamels. This one was quickly a rout, though, as the Dominican club collected a whopping 28 hits and steamrolled the Phillies 15-2.

Jose Reyes, Robinson Cano and Hanley Ramirez all homered for the D.R. Ramirez and Miguel Tejada both had four hits apiece. Edwin Encarnacion went 3-for-5 from the cleanup spot.

The Dominican squad boasts a powerful lineup despite lacking Albert Pujols, Jose Bautista, David Ortiz, Adrian Beltre and Aramis Ramirez. Bautista is the player the team misses most; while the country has produced plenty of good infielders, it’s very short on outfielders at the moment. Alongside Nelson Cruz in right today were Alejandro De Aza in center and Ricardo Nanita in left. Moises Sierra is the other candidate to start in left.

Hamels ended up surrendering eight runs and 12 hits in 2 2/3 innings in his start. Maybe it was for the best that he decided against pitching for Team USA this year.

Phillies sign Francisco Liriano and Neil Walker to minor league deals

Francisco Liriano
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Robert Murray and MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reported earlier, respectively, that the Phillies signed pitcher Francisco Liriano and infielder Neil Walker to minor league contracts. If he makes the major league roster, Liriano will earn a salary of $1.5 million with an additional $1.25 million available through performance incentives. Walker’s contract information is not yet known.

Liriano, 36, struggled from 2016-18 but enjoyed a productive year out of the bullpen for the Pirates this past season. He posted a 3.47 ERA with 63 strikeouts and 35 walks over 70 innings. The lefty was quite effective against same-handed batters, limiting fellow lefties to a .659 OPS. That would figure to be a key component if Liriano makes the Phillies’ Opening Day roster.

Walker, 34, hit .261/.344/.395 with eight home runs and 38 RBI over 381 plate appearances with the Marlins last year. The veteran is versastile, having played first, second, and third base along with both corner outfield spots in recent seasons. Despite Walker’s versatility, it is tough to see room on the Phillies’ roster for him, barring injuries to other players. It never hurts to have depth.