CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Closers are adrenaline junkies and Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon is no different.
So imagine what it's like for him to pitch the fifth inning in a relatively meaningless Grapefruit League game, which he did Saturday in a 15-7 loss to the Rays at Bright House Field. Papelbon retired the side in order, but the results aren't much of a concern to him.
"I'm just trying to just keep my delivery intact, that's it," said Papelbon, who allowed eight runs in 1 2/3 innings in his first two appearances this spring. "All I try to do really is try to make sure that my delivery gets better and better as spring goes on. I don't worry about velocity. I don't worry about really making pitches until the last few weeks. Really to me, it's all about delivery."
Asked if he feels that when the time comes he will be ready, he replied, "I don't feel like that, no. I know it."
Papelbon, who missed an appearance earlier this week because of illness, said he will truly gear up for the regular season the last few games of the exhibition schedule, which includes a pair of games against the Blue Jays at Citizens Bank Park on March 29-30.
"It's tough," he said when asked about pitching in Spring Training. "It's real tough. It's not easy. You go back and look at every closer, they probably all have had bad springs."
Prospect Morgan getting valuable experience
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- In the future, if everything continues on its current path, Adam Morgan won't have to pack his bags for the short trip to Carpenter Complex, the Phillies' Minor League Spring Training home.
But, for now, that's his reality. The Phillies re-assigned the left-handed pitching prospect to Minor League camp on Saturday. Morgan, who MLB.com ranks the seventh-best prospect in the Phillies organization, went 0-1 with a 1.93 ERA in two Grapefruit League appearances. He allowed five hits, four runs (one earned run), two walks and struck out six in 4 2/3 innings.
The Phillies need him to get ready for the Minor League season, but they love his potential and think he could be a mainstay in the rotation in the future. He could open this season at Double-A Reading or Triple-A Lehigh Valley.
"It was amazing," Morgan said about his first big league camp experience. "It was awesome. I felt like I took advantage of every day. I tried to learn something new every day. I didn't take anything for granted. You come in here and I guess you're kind of star struck by everybody at first. But they're good guys. They're very approachable guys.
"I picked Cole Hamels' brain a little bit in the dugout, just trying to figure out what he does in between starts and what works for him. There's no better pitching staff than this one here just to pick their brains. I just tried to figure out what he did in between starts, like video, what he looks for in hitters, what pitches to throw in certain situations, some of his grips. He opened up to me. That was great. That's something I will always remember."
In fact, Hamels and Morgan compared changeup grips. Morgan's changeup took a step forward last season, so he wanted to look at Hamels' because he has one of the best in baseball.
The Phillies selected Morgan, 23, in the third round of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft. He went a combined 8-11 with a 3.35 ERA in 27 appearances (26 starts) last season with Class A Clearwater and Reading.
Lannan adjusts pitching out of stretch
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Phillies right-hander John Lannan solved something on Saturday he preferred to solve in March than April, or later.
He had difficulty pitching out of the stretch in the third inning of a 15-7 loss to the Rays at Bright House Field. He allowed four runs in the inning, as the Rays started putting good swings on the ball and taking more pitches.
Lannan made a mechanical adjustment for the fourth and worked on pitching out of the stretch a little more later in the bullpen.
"It was good to figure it out now," he said.
The Phillies made eight roster moves Saturday.
They reassigned left-hander Adam Morgan, right-handers J.C. Ramirez and Kyle Simon, infielder Michael Martinez, catcher Tommy Joseph and third baseman Cody Asche to Minor League camp. They also optioned left-hander Joe Savery, and released outfielder Joe Mather.
They informed right-handers Jonathan Pettibone and Ethan Martin and outfielder Zach Collier they will be optioned on Monday.
Asche and Joseph impressed. Asche hit .357 (5-for-14) with two doubles, two walks and two strikeouts in eight games. Joseph hit .462 (6-for-13) with two doubles, one home run and two RBIs in six games. Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz and third baseman Michael Young will be free agents after the season, so if Asche and Joseph continue to develop with Triple-A Lehigh Valley this season the Phillies could have some interesting decisions to make in the offseason.
Could Asche and Joseph be significant contributors in 2014?
"Next season, maybe. Maybe," Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "Not 2013 necessarily. It's a possibility. It's hard to tell. A lot of it will depend on how they continue to advance. Neither one of these guys have played Triple-A baseball."
"They still need to put together solid seasons," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "They need a little more experience. But at the same time they're more advanced than I thought they were, than I expected. Very much so."
Manuel also complimented Morgan, Martin and Pettibone.
"They're going to pitch in the big leagues," Manuel said.
The Phillies didn't see Savery in competition for one of the team's three job openings in the bullpen. Martinez wasn't a candidate to be one of the team's utility infielders.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.