Phillies Spring Training News and Notes: Nola’s Debut, Eflin, Thompson

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Feb 22, 2017; Clearwater, FL, USA; Philadelphia Phillies pitching coach Bob McClure (22) walks across the field as rain delays practice during spring training at Spectrum Field. Mandatory Credit: Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 22, 2017; Clearwater, FL, USA; Philadelphia Phillies pitching coach Bob McClure (22) walks across the field as rain delays practice during spring training at Spectrum Field. Mandatory Credit: Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Phillies gave updates on Aaron Nola’s spring training debut, Zach Eflin’s and Jake Thompson’s health, as well as a few other things.

Phillies pitching coach Bob McClure announced that Aaron Nola will make his first start of the 2017 spring training schedule Thursday when they return to Dunedin to face the Blue Jays. It will be Nola’s first in-game action since July 28 of last year.

Nola, who missed the last two months of the season due to an elbow strain, will be the last of Philadelphia’s five expected major-league starters to make their spring debut. Jeremy Hellickson and Jerad Eickhoff already made starts while Clay Buchholz and Vincent Velasquez will make their debuts Tuesday and Wednesday. McClure said the decision to start Nola last was to give him a little extra time to prepare.

“Right now, in the spring, I’m pitching Nola later because of the fact that he had some arm discomfort at the end (of last season) and I’m giving him as much time as he can,” McClure told Ryan Lawrence of Philly Voice. “Right now, I want the extra time in the spring to get into games and go from there.”

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McClure also offered updates on pitchers Zach Eflin and Jake Thompson who suffered setbacks earlier in spring training. Eflin, who was sidelined earlier in the spring due to knee soreness, threw an “up and down” bullpen session Monday, one which simulates multiple innings. McClure said could get some in-game action within the next two weeks.

Thompson also threw a bullpen session Monday and McClure expects him to throw against live hitting next week. If that goes well, he could also make his debut in a spring game soon.

Turning towards the position players in camp, manager Pete Mackanin commented on Rhys Hoskins and Dylan Cozens, the two sluggers who combined for 78 home runs in Double-A Reading last season.

Mackanin said [quote via Matt Gelb of Philly.com], “He (Hoskins) has a nice, soft approach. He looks like he’s really under control. That’s good to see.”

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While power is Hoskins’s and Cozens’s calling card, Mackanin also commented on Cozens’s base-stealing potential.

“He’s got potential to steal some bases,” Mackanin told Gelb. “The key is when they know you can run they bear down on you. But still, you’ve got to like his tools.”

Mackanin also talked about second-base prospect Scott Kingery. While Kingery is only in camp as a non-roster invitee, the second-baseman has already made an impression on the big-league manager.

Mackanin told Lawrence Sunday:

"“You know he’s got real good fielding mechanics, a good approach at the plate. He’s a guy that I mentioned to (bench coach Larry) Bowa the last time he came up. I said this has to be pretty exciting for him to be in his first big league camp playing against the Yankees.”"

Next: Phillies Drop Second Game of Spring to Rays, 7-2

For more updates throughout spring training, keep checking back here at That Ball’s Outta Here.

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