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March 14, 2017

Tommy Joseph dodges bullet and four other Phillies' takeaways from Tuesday

CLEARWATER, Fla. – The medical wrapping over his left hand notwithstanding, Tommy Joseph was lucky.

Any time a major league hitter gets plunked with a pitch in the hand, everyone winces. No matter if it’s regular season or spring training, hand injuries can be particularly crushing to a major league hitter. Just ask Jayson Werth.

But the pitch Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Aaron Blair threw that caught Joseph in the left hand in the first inning in Clearwater, Fla., on Tuesday hit him in a spot where he has “a little muscle and fat.”

An X-ray on Joseph’s hand showed no fractures. The injury is officially being diagnosed as a contusion and he will be evaluated on a day-to-day basis.

Like everyone else, Joseph was more than a little worried shortly after taking the pitch on the inside of his left hand (under his pinky finger).

“I went through tests with our trainer down in the tunnel and it was fine,” Joseph said. “And then when I grabbed a bat, it didn't feel too comfortable. So at that point it was a pretty easy decision to come out, come in here, start treating it and try to get this thing taken care of.”

Joseph is unsure how long he’ll be sidelined, but it would probably be mildly surprising to see him in a game before this weekend.

Other takeaways from Tuesday:

 • Jerad Eickhoff was quite good. He held Atlanta to three hits in five shutout innings, striking out five while walking just one batter.

Eickhoff was so efficient (62 pitches in five innings) he had to continue to pitch in the bullpen after he came out of the game in order to get his pitch count up to where he hoped coming into the game.

Eickhoff also picked a runner off at first base, which manager Pete Mackanin made sure to point out less than a week after saying it was one of the few areas of the game his 26-year-old right-hander needed to improve.

 • Hello, Joaquin Benoit. Prior to Tuesday, Benoit last pitched in a game on February 26. He was kind of like that guy from Summer School who was there on the first day and then disappeared until exam time, apparently “in the bathroom.” 

Benoit was slowed in the last few weeks while nursing an infection on the back of his neck.

“He threw the ball hard, a lot of velocity for a guy who hasn’t pitched,” Mackanin said of the 39-year-old reliever, who had the stadium gun hitting 95 MPH on a strikeout of Emilio Bonifacio.

Benoit also hit two batters. He didn’t allow a run.

“He was rusty, but I liked what I saw coming out of his hand,” Mackanin said.

The Phillies signed Benoit, who turns 40 in July, to a one-year, $7.5 million deal in December. 

 • The Nick Williams Experience continued on Tuesday. [Note: You probably want to watch the video in that link.]

 • The Brock Stassi Experience also continued on Tuesday, when he came in for the injured Joseph and went 2-for-4 with a home run and triple. Stassi, who looks like a front runner for one of two open bench jobs, was about a foot away from having two home runs – his triple hit the top of the wall in right-center.

“I think everybody likes him,” Mackanin said. “You have to like him. Not only has he had a good spring offensively, but the at-bats he gives us are quality at-bats vs. righties and lefties. But he's just a well-above-average defender. He's fun to watch play.”

Stassi is tied for the major league lead in home runs this spring, joining these guys:

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