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Morning news: Hellickson, Stairs, Saunders, Knapp, Crawford

Good morning! Here’s the news:

OPENING DAY STARTER?: While nothing has been announced, it seems likely that Jeremy Hellickson will once again be the opening day starter for the Phillies.

STAIRS’ PLAN: Here’s a bunch of notebook pieces by Stephen Gross of the Morning Call, among them a look at Matt Stairs’ tasks as hitting coach (the key is line drives and the opposite field), Pete Mackanin on Odubel Herrera, and a little on Andrew Knapp.

UNWRAPPING KNAPP: More on Knapp – from Jim Salisbury – looking at how he’s positioned to win a job out of spring training. A lot of focus on first base, which means the team likes him as a lefty spell for Tommy Joseph. Even Larry Bowa mentioned having Knapp play more games when, say, the Mets bring their big righties out.

CRAWFORD’S BOXES: Matt Breen details J.P. Crawford’s mindset heading into 2017. For the No. 1 prospect it’s all about focusing on what he does best (patient at bats leading to production) instead of trying to do too much, which he said he did in 2016.

SAUNDERS’ MISSION: A profile of Michael Saunders, which leads you to believe he’s being positioned as a veteran leader. On the contrary. I think his job is to put his head down and produce, and if leadership comes, so be it. But this team’s “leaders” are quite obviously Andres Blanco, Freddy Galvis and Jeremy Hellickson.

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