MIN@PHI: Ruiz nails his second runner of the game

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The Phillies wanted their pitchers and catchers to do a better job of controlling the running game this year, so they made it a point of emphasis in Spring Training and have been pleased with the results.

The Phillies lead the Major Leagues with a .417 stolen-base against percentage this spring, a vast improvement from their .765 mark last season, which was the sixth highest in baseball.

"The pitchers are doing a good job with the varied things we're doing that's allowing the catchers to throw the guys out with some not-so-good jumps with the baserunners," said Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg. "Not only that, I think there are some baserunners that have wanted to steal that haven't attempted."

It's been a group effort. Pitchers have been faster to the plate, catchers have been accurate with their throws and infielders have been in the right position. That much was on display on Sunday afternoon in a Grapefruit League win over the Twins, when catcher Carlos Ruiz threw out a runner at third and caught another trying to steal second.

Ruiz has caught eight of 11 runners attempting to steal this spring.

"Chooch is throwing the ball well," said Sandberg, who does his part to control the running game by sending signals to the catcher, who relays the information to the pitcher. "All the catchers are throwing the ball well, so a credit to them too. I think that's all working as a package."

While controlling the running game is often overlooked by the casual observer, the Phillies believe it will be an important part to their success in 2014.

"I think that's big, and I think that's going to help us win games," Ruiz said. "It's big when the pitcher gives you the chance to throw somebody out at second. That can change the inning and change the game also. That's big."

Kendrick sharp in penultimate spring start

NYY@PHI: Kendrick allows one run in spring start

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Kyle Kendrick looked crisp on Sunday afternoon in his first Grapefruit League action in over two weeks, and he said he's feeling strong as he prepares for his first regular-season start against the Rangers on April 2.

Kendrick held the Twins to one run over six efficient innings, scattering five hits and striking out six to earn the win. The right-hander flashed a solid curveball and showed good control, issuing just one walk. He has one more Spring Training start planned for Friday against the Pirates at Citizens Bank Park.

"I knew today was going to be my last outing before we get up north, so just wanted to work on everything, be aggressive, kind of throw everything," Kendrick said. "Worked on my curveball and felt pretty good ... . I threw it for strikes a lot. Pleased with that. I think that's going to be good for me this year."

In addition to his curveball, Kendrick said he's encouraged by his health, which was an issue for him in 2013. He battled shoulder inflammation towards the end of the season and was shut down for the final two and a half weeks.

The Phillies need Kendrick to stay healthy, in part because the club has a number of pitchers behind schedule as they recover from arm and shoulder issues, including Cole Hamels, Jonathan Pettibone, Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, Ethan Martin and Mike Adams.

"That's the main thing is your health," Kendrick said. "I thought about it over my career, but after last year and having that, how much health really means to you ... you don't really take it for granted once you have something.

"I think after last year, this winter I didn't want that to happen again. Really been working on that. I do it all offseason, too. Got to do your stretching, all your arm stuff. Just take care of yourself."

Infielder Frandsen optioned to Minors

Amaro Jr. on optioning Kevin Frandsen to Triple-A

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The Phillies outrighted infielder Kevin Frandsen to Triple-A Lehigh Valley following Sunday's Grapefruit League win over the Twins, a decision that opens a third spot on the club's 40-man roster.

With infielder Freddy Galvis hospitalized with MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) and outfielder Darin Ruf expected to miss 4-6 weeks with a strained left oblique, the Phillies felt the need to create more room on the 40-man.

"We're in a situation now with many of the injuries that have happened and the things that have occurred this spring to try and create some roster space for us," Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "That's what we've done."

The Phillies need roster spots, because they have several non-roster players in camp who are also competing for jobs, including outfielder Bobby Abreu, infielders Ronny Cedeno and Reid Brignac and pitchers Shawn Camp, Mario Hollands and Jeff Manship.

Abreu must be added to the roster by Wednesday or he can opt out of his contract. If Cedeno is not added to the roster by Tuesday, he can ask for his release, or the Phillies must pay him $100,000 to go to the Minors.

Frandsen has 72 hours to accept the assignment to the Minor Leagues, or he can elect to become a free agent and relinquish his 2014 salary of $900,000. However, Amaro said Frandsen still has an opportunity to earn a bench role with the Phillies in the final week before Opening Day, provided he chooses to remain with the organization.

"We still think he can be a valuable part of our club," Amaro said. "But he's competing. Just like he was before, he continues to compete for a job on the bench."

The Phillies say there is an open competition between Frandsen, Cedeno, Brignac and Cesar Hernandez to make the club as backup infielders.

"[We're] looking at all of them," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. "This is a week to watch that and make the decisions and allow guys to play."