Alvarado's demotion about performance, not message-sending, says Girardi originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
NEW YORK -- The Phillies made an attention-grabbing roster move before Friday night's game against the New York Mets.
Needing to clear a spot for starting pitcher Bailey Falter, the Phils optioned frequently used lefty reliever Jose Alvarado to Triple A.
"What we're trying to do is get him to where he's an extremely valuable piece again," manager Joe Girardi said. "He's struggled this year and the concerning thing is he's struggled against lefties and last year he was dominant against them."
Alvarado had a 4.20 ERA in 64 games for the Phillies last season. He held lefties to a .123 batting average. This season, lefties were hitting .333 against Alvarado. His ERA was 7.62 in 17 games. In 13 innings, he allowed 16 hits and 10 walks while striking out 17. He had thrown four wild pitches.
"His sinker is not sinking and we've just got to get him back on track," Girardi said. "It's hard to get people work at this level to get them back on track."
Alvarado, 27, has four-plus years of service time in the majors and is making $1.9 million this season. He isn't the only Phillies reliever who has pitched poorly. Certainly, there were other candidates for subtraction in addition to him.
Girardi was asked if sending a veteran to the minors was a bit of message-sending to an underachieving team.
"No," he said firmly. "Hopefully, this is just for a short time to get him back to where he was and he can be dominant for us again."
Alvarado learned of his demotion after Thursday night's game in Atlanta and was not available for comment in New York on Friday.
Girardi acknowledged that Alvarado was not happy with the move, "but I think he understands what we're trying to do and how much we care for him."
Alvarado's departure leaves the Phillies with just one lefty (Brad Hand) in the bullpen for an important series against the Mets. Interestingly, Alvarado has strong career numbers against current Mets hitters, who are a combined 8 for 42 (.191) with one extra-base hit, five walks and 15 strikeouts against him.