PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- The Phillies have been looking for relievers who can pitch more than an inning. So far this spring, they've used seven different relievers in a longer role.
In Friday's 3-1 loss to the Rays at Charlotte Sports Park, Justin De Fratus pitched the sixth and seventh. After blanking Tampa Bay in his first inning, Shelley Duncan homered on the first pitch De Fratus threw in the seventh. That ended a streak of five straight scoreless innings for him.
The right-hander said the extended outing had nothing to do with the result.
"Giving up a home run had nothing to do with me letting my guard down or anything. I just threw a first-pitch heater and he crushed it," De Fratus said. "It's definitely different, but now's the time to start doing it. We have our eighth and ninth inning locked up, so we have to be sure we're able to do those kinds of things. We've got guys competing for those last few spots. We've got to be able to show we can go multiple innings if need be. We have to be able to show we can do what it takes to get the game to Mike Adams and [Jonathan] Papelbon."
Afterward, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel seemed to throw down a challenge to his young relievers.
"[They] have to start to pick it up, start getting sharper and ready to go, if you follow what I mean," he said. "They've got to start putting more on the ball, throwing strikes and being more aggressive and attacking the hitters. Scoreless innings are fine, but it's how it gets there that counts. It's what I see. A guy can pitch 10 innings and not give up a run, that doesn't mean anything to me. It depends on how he got there.
"I know their talent, but at the same time, their talent still lacks experience. When we were 14 [games] down, it's kind of easy to go out there and pitch. All of a sudden we climb to .500 and the youth in our 'pen showed up. But that's all part of it. We have a chance with the talent that's there to have a big bullpen, but at the same time, the talent also has to produce."
Change of scenery pleasing to Lannan
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- A change of scenery and a changeup are working out pretty well for Phillies left-hander John Lannan so far this spring.
After being non-tendered by the Washington Nationals, the 28-year-old signed with the Phillies and was plugged into the fifth spot in the rotation. In a 10-inning, 3-1 loss to the Rays on Friday at Charlotte Sports Park, he allowed just two hits and a walk in five shutout innings, striking out four. And that was after giving up a leadoff single to Tampa Bay centerfielder Desmond Jennings in the bottom of the first.
"In the first inning my changeup was a little hard," he said. "That's what Jennings hit. That's one of the main things I talked to [pitching coach Rich Dubee] about. Since then I've been working on it and it's in a good place right now. You've just got to find a good grip. There are a lot of guys on this team who throw a good one.
"I wasn't getting the [speed] differential I wanted. I was throwing 88 to whatever. And my change was 85-86. The differential needs to be bigger so that's what I was working on today. And I was happy with it. It's such a good pitch. It's something you can use as a weapon."
Charlie Manuel said Lannan should benefit from improved command.
"He can put the ball on both sides of the plate," the manager said. "He can do a lot more with it than he used to. The ball used to run, but he's got that under control now."
Lannan also admitted, once again, that he was rankled by being sent to the Minors by the Nationals to open last season and then being cut loose.
"They just thought they had better guys than me. That's what it came down to. I've always had a chip on my shoulder, but to be told you're not good enough, it's kind of hard to take. It definitely changed me," he said.
Young joins Rays in shaving head for charity
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Rays manager Joe Maddon, as well as players and staff, had their heads shaved before Friday's game at Charlotte Sports Park. It was the second straight season the Rays have done this to demonstrate support for children fighting cancer.
Fans also contributed, with all proceeds going to the Pediatric Cancer Foundation.
Sixty-five members of the Rays' organization participated and so did one special volunteer: Phillies third baseman Michael Young.
After he left the 3-1 loss in the middle of the sixth, Young sat down and had his hair buzzed. Later he said he did it as a tribute to the kids. . .and also because he got used to playing with short hair because of the summer heat in Texas while he was with the Rangers.
For his effort he got personal satisfaction -- and also a "Fortune Favors the Bald" T-shirt.
Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.