PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. (AP) — John Lannan didn’t really want to talk about last season. He has answered some of the questions before and professional athletes are loath to look back.
But when the Philadelphia left-hander was asked to elaborate about his final season with the Washington Nationals, Lannan couldn’t hide his frustration. He said the experience changed him.
He, in turn, changed teams. And he took the mound Friday for the Phillies. Expected to earn a spot in the rotation, Lannan turned in a fine effort, throwing five shutout innings, while walking one and allowing two hits. Long after Lannan exited, Tampa Bay’s Stephen Vogt hit a two-run home run with two out in the 10th inning off Jay Johnson to give the Rays a 3-1 victory over the Phillies on Friday.
Vogt, a 28-year old catcher/utility player who has been in the Rays’ organization since they drafted him out of Azusa Pacific (Calif.), finally saw action with the major league club last year. But after 27 plate appearances, he’s still looking for his first hit in a regular-season game.
“It’s pretty cool,” Vogt said. “Whether it’s spring training or pickup baseball or a regular-season game, hitting a walkoff is the most exciting play in baseball.”
Vogt’s late blast overshadowed a solid overall performance from the Phillies’ pitching staff, paced by Lannan.
“This spring is not over yet,” he said. “A lot of things can happen. I mean (Nationals manager) Davey (Johnson) came out last year and said I was his guy and I obviously wasn’t. So until I am pitching on whatever day, I’ll talk to you about it then. Right now, I’m not.”
Lannan, a regular in the Nationals’ rotation for the previous four years, couldn’t find a spot in 2012. He spent the majority of the season in Triple-A, all the while collecting a major league salary of $5 million.
“I have always had a chip on my shoulder, but to be told you are not good enough is kind of hard to take,” said Lannan, who did go 4-1 in limited innings late last season. “They just thought they had better guys than me is what it came down to.”
Lannan’s counterpart Friday, Matt Moore, isn’t fighting for a job this spring. He’s considered a future star. Early this spring, Moore has been fighting his command. But Moore pitched five strong innings for Tampa Bay, striking out seven while allowing three hits and walking a pair. His only run allowed was unearned, though it came following his errant pick-off throw in the second inning.
“It was better. It’s still not the finished product,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “He was better, but there is still another level of him like we’ve seen in the past.”
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