The season is almost here. We are less than two weeks out from Opening Day in Philadelphia. It hasn’t been a favorable Spring Training for the Phillies in terms of being healthy. As we all know, Domonic Brown is out. The surgery on his hand was successful but odds are he will spend a good amount, if not all season, back in Lehigh Valley recovering.
Chase Utley is out with patellar tendinits, chondromalacia and bone inflammation in his right knee. As the season takes off, he will head to the DL and the Phillies will be forced to fill his spot in the line up. Odds are it will be Wilson Valdez who has been raking in Clearwater the past month. It could also be a combination of Valdez, Pete Orr and Delwyn Young. Michael Martinez could also get a look if he is able to land a bench spot.
Making noise this week and catching the Phillies front office staff’s attention was the Mets release of infielder Luis Castillo. Word was that the Phils had their eye on Castillo as a possible replacement for Utley. Just don’t believe everything you hear. Our very own Corey Seidman takes a look at Castillo and what else the Phillies have in camp to ‘replace’ Utley. Obviously I am using the word replace loosely because you can’t really hope to replace a guy like Utley.
Also bitten by the injury bug this week was closer Brad Lidge and third baseman Placido Polanco. Lidge, who has been battling right biceps tendinitis since March 11, says he is back on track and could pitch again Tuesday. Lidge also said in an interview that he can pitch every other day starting Tuesday and should be ready for Opening Day.
Polanco has become the man with one elbow these days. He hyperextended his left elbow Tuesday and hasn’t played since. Polanco could see some action next week but the Phillies are being super cautious on this one. This is the same elbow Polly had bone fragments removed from this past October. Monday he will hit off a tee and see how it feels.
Our friends over at The Phield are at it again. Every year during the March Madness, they take it upon them selves to put out a bracket of their own. Only instead of using college teams, they fill the slots with Philly related blogs. Phillies Nation, through hard work, was able to capture the #1 seed in the Conlin Region. Up next for PN in the second round is the #8 Fightin Phillies. Be sure to vote this week! Also while you are there, be sure to vote for our own Jay Floyd’s #4 Phoul Ballz as he takes on #5 Long Drive in the Salisbury Region. Voting for the second round closes Monday at 5pm.
As for games this week, the Phillies won four out of six games this week with their only day off being on Wednesday. The offense is really starting to pick up the pace as we inch closer to Opening Day. Shane Victorino hit two home runs this week and John Mayberry Jr. hit his fifth homer for the Spring. Jimmy Rollins, while the rest of the team struggled against CC Sabathia, collected three hits today including a home run.
Ben Francisco, Wilson Valdez, Ross Gload, Pete Orr, Jason Barfield and Victorino are all hitting over .330 with at least 32 at bats. Roy Halladay has yet to allow an earned run this Spring in 11 innings pitched. The other side of the spectrum is Cliff Lee. Before we panic, it is Spring Training, but Lee has allowed eight earned runs in 13 innings pitched. He’s also issued two walks and given up three homers; both relatively uncharacteristic of Lee. Why shouldn’t you panic? Because Lee isn’t. Here is what he had to say about pitching in the spring.
Spring training has a completely different feel, you have to try to make it as much like a regular-season start as you can,” Lee said. “Obviously the stats aren’t as important, it’s more important to get your body right and work on things, experiment with stuff to prepare for the regular season, but we’re starting to wind down now. I need to start being more effective.”
Some surprises from the spring are Erik Kratz 2 HR in 16 AB, Victorino .340 w/ 7 doubles, Valdez .439 w/ 18 hits, Danyz Baez 0.93 ERA 9.2 IP, Mike Zagurski 1.13 ERA 8 IP 11K, Michael Stutes 1.00 ERA 9 IP 9 K.
Phillies are 15-9 in the Grapefruit League.