CLEARWATER, Fla. (AP) — Right-hander Joe Blanton threw two shutout innings and third baseman Placido Polanco drove home the game’s first run as the Philadelphia Phillies beat the New York Yankees 9-3 in exhibition play on Monday.
For both Blanton and Polanco, it was their first chance to get on the field in 2012 after injury-plagued 2011 seasons.
The 31-year-old Blanton, who had averaged 32 starts in his first six big league seasons, made just eight in 2011 while battling elbow soreness. On Monday, Blanton allowed two hits, struck out one and recorded five groundball outs.
The Yankees had their first look at offseason acquisition Michael Pineda. The 23-year-old right-hander, traded from Seattle in a deal that included catching prospect Jesus Montero, held the Phillies to one hit in two shutout innings. Pineda made the All-Star team as a rookie with the Mariners last season.
For Blanton, Monday was another step forward after he returned in late September and pitched a scoreless inning in the National League Division Series against St. Louis.
“I’m confident in how I feel,” he said. “Really, really confident. I feel good.”
Although he made the All-Star team and was awarded a Gold Glove last season, Polanco was limited to 122 games with an assortment of injuries, including elbow pain and lower back inflammation. Polanco, 36, had double hernia surgery in October.
“I’m very happy. I dove for a ball and didn’t feel anything,” Polanco said. “I didn’t expect anything because I’ve been here for a while and I’ve done a lot of stuff. But game situations are a little bit different when you’re out there. But I felt really good.”
Polanco finished his first game of the spring 2 for 3. Although Polanco sat out the first three exhibition games, Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel said he planned to work Polanco in slowly in the beginning of spring training.
Shortstop Jimmy Rollins (2 for 2 with a walk) and designated hitter Jim Thome (2 for 3 with a double) also enjoyed multiple-hit games for the Phillies. Thome came a few feet away from his first home run of the spring when he doubled high off the center field wall in the fourth. Second baseman Michael Martinez rebounded from a two-error game on Sunday by hitting a two-run home run in the seventh.
Pineda ended the first inning of his Yankees debut with back-to-back strikeouts of Shane Victorino and Thome.
“I’m very excited today,” Pineda said at his locker stall, which was surrounded by a group of 20 reporters. “It’s a little different because in Seattle, you don’t have a lot of media at spring training.”
Pineda credited Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild for helping his first start. Rothschild has been working with Pineda on a new grip for his changeup. Pineda responded by throwing eight changeups Monday.
“Right now, I feel a little more comfortable with my changeup,” Pineda said. “It’s a good pitch for me, because I’m (using) the same mechanics for the fastball.”
Yankees catcher Russell Martin was pleased.
“I’m not surprised because when I caught him in the (bull)pen, he already had a good idea of it,” he said. “I don’t see why it couldn’t be a good pitch for him.”
NOTES: Yankees closer Mariano Rivera could make his spring training debut on Sunday. The 42-year-old, who will throw around eight innings overall during the exhibition season, made 30 pitches during his first batting practice session. “It went great,” Rivera said. “I feel good.” … New York reliever Rafael Soriano threw batting practice, making 28 pitches. . Yankees shortstop Eduardo Nunez left the game with a right hand contusion in the fifth inning after getting hit by an Austin Hyatt pitch. X-rays came back negative. … Phillies second baseman Chase Utley has missed the first four games and isn’t likely to play any time soon, according to Manuel. “It’s going to be a while yet,” he said. Utley sat out the first seven weeks of the 2011 season with right knee tendinitis. … Philadelphia right-hander Justin De Fratus began his throwing program after resting a sore elbow. De Fratus threw 40 balls from 60 feet. . Phillies outfielder Laynce Nix is battling a mild hamstring strain and did not play. Nix, who signed a two-year, $2.5 million contract, has been limited to designated hitter and pinch-hitting duties. . Phillies left-hander Cliff Lee will make his spring debut on Tuesday against the Blue Jays.
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