Here’s the latest from around the NL East…
- Phillies manager Pete Mackanin told reporters (including MLB.com’s Cody Stavenhagen) that he will give first baseman Tommy Joseph more starts against right-handed pitching. “We brought Joseph up here for a reason, to get a look at him, and I can’t let him stagnate on the bench…so he’s going to face some right-handed pitchers to keep his timing,” Mackanin said. Of course, this would cut into the playing time for veteran Ryan Howard, who said he hadn’t been consulted about sitting against righties. Joseph has hit well in his first taste of the majors while Howard has struggled mightily (a .564 OPS in 151 PA). The first base situation has been the subject of much debate in Philadelphia, as while logic would dictate that the younger and better-performing Joseph would get more starts, Howard is a franchise legend likely in his final year as a Phillie.
- Jeff Francoeur was considering retirement if he didn’t land a Major League contract last winter, though after signing a minors deal to rejoin the Braves, the outfielder tells David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he’s looking forward to playing several more years in a reserve role. Francoeur admits it took some time for him to fully accept being a part-timer, though he sees the benefits in extending his career as a platooner and mentor to younger players. With an .866 OPS in 61 PA against southpaws this season, “Frenchy” is helping the rebuilding Braves both on the field and in the clubhouse, and he hopes to continue playing in Atlanta.
- Marlins pitching prospect Luis Castillo is turning some heads in high-A ball, Baseball America’s Walter Villa writes. The 23-year-old righty was acquired by the Fish as part of the December 2014 trade that sent Casey McGehee to the Giants, and Castillo has since transitioned from reliever to starter with strong results. Castillo has a 2.13 ERA, 7.5 K/9 and a 6.00 K/BB rate over 50 2/3 innings this season, with a fastball that has topped the 100-mph mark and averages in the 96-97mph range.
- In NL East news from earlier today, the Braves inked veteran righty Dale Thayer to a minor league deal.