Spring Training: On the eve of the team’s first spring training game.

As the Phils get ready for their first spring training game, tomorrow, against Florida State, they have made several announcements after the arrival of all of their players to camp:

1) Charlie Manuel announced that the team was going to do some more small ball this season, which was quickly emphasised by him talking to the team’s lead-off man, and one of the leaders of the team, Jimmy Rollins last Thursday. This was followed by announcements that he was going to allow possible Hall of Famer Jim Thome to help some of the hitters improve on their hitting approach, and that he was going to have them bunt more (for base hits). Mike Schmidt, who is now in camp as a special coach, will also be helping the batters’ with their hitting approach, along with fellow Hall of Famer, and Iron Pigs coach Ryne Sandburg, while staying in camp a bit longer. While this is good news, since using small ball, as well as stealing more bases, should give the opposing defenses something to think about, I will not be convinced until the Phils leave Florida in late March with Juan Pierre as one of their players coming off the bench, since he would be a good option to use late in games because of both his speed and bat control.

2) Jose Contreras had another bullpen session, and is continuing to pitch fine with no elbow trouble, according to pitching coach Rich Dubee. This is good news, as it should give the team several good eighth innings options between him, Antonio Bastardo and Chad Qualls, if all three players make the team out of spring training.

3) And speaking of pitchers, starter Cliff Lee missed a bullpen session last week because of abdominal problems, and was told to skip the session. Lee said that he is feeling fine now and should be able to pitch in a bullpen session today. Hopefully, it was only a temporary problem.

4) Speaking of players’ health, Ryan Howard is right now in Baltimore, having a check-up with foot and ankle specialist Mark Myerson, to check on his achilles tendon, to make sure that there’s no problem with it, since it was mentioned during the weekend that Howard was having a delayed reaction to the sutures. GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. later announced that they doubt that it was a major problem. Anyway, it should help the Phils decide how they should continue their approach on Howard’s rehab, although they don’t really expect him back until about late May at the earliest. My opinion is that they should take as much time as they can to get Howard back healthy, as they already have a few options to play first base.

and 5), Chase Utley has announced that he should be able to come back from his leg troubles last year, while it is expected that he will be given the occasional rest, to help his legs, while Placido Polanco has announced that he is ready to go.

4 Comments

As a Blue Jays fan, I can honestly say that my money is on your boys again this year. Good luck – great team. A couple of buddies and I are on a baseball road trip in May for 2 weeks taking in 6 MLB games and 4 AAA games. Sadly, our schedule does not permit a home Phillies game. We will however be seeing the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs play in Indianapolis. Despite the fact you gave us some of your best prospects for Doc, I am sure you recommend a couple of names to look out for who might be playing at AAA level to start the season. Will be fun to chart their spring training and early season stats.

Cheers
Matt
http://kingofthepunditslive.wordpress.com/

Thanks. Everyone else is also saying that. But, we really won’t know if they are that good until the season start and has gone at least a month. I can remember everyone saying that the 1979 team was a good team, and they were, for about a month, and then the floor drop out from under them. What a nightmare of a year that turned out to be.
As for prospects, I don’t follow the team’s minor league clubs, as much as a Phillies blog site like Phillies Nation and Beerleaguer does, both of whom are listed among my links.

Thanks for the recommendation – and trust me, you will be fine. We have a starting rotation of 2 plus a guy who is coming off 3 years on the DL, a guy who has changed his body shape over the off season and a 22 yr old who doesn’t have a breaking ball!

You’re welcome. It’s the least I can do. And I can understand, as that sounds like the team at the start of the 21st Century. If Dallas Green hasn’t been asked to take a look at the farm system, and he didn’t scream about how bad it had gotten at that point, the ball club would not be in its present situation of a trying for its sixth straight division title. Still, it can always slide back, if folks don’t keep an eye out for good prospects, and then develop them in the farm system, so that they can either join the main club, or be use as trade bait for good players already in the majors.

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