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News: Phillies flex muscle over weekend

Good morning!

WEEKEND GAMES: The Phillies flexed some muscle in a 2-1 weekend with wins over the Yankees and Blue Jays. Much of the muscle came via second-team bats like Brock Stassi (3-for-5, HR, 3 RBI) and Cameron Perkins (4-for-6, HR, 2 RBI). The scores:

Friday: NYY 9 PHI 4
Saturday: PHI 6 NYY 5
Sunday: PHI 10 TOR 3

To be fair, the Yanks and Jays committed quite a few blunders over the weekend (as did the Phils), but it’s nice to see some bats heat up early. Maikel Franco knocked two home runs Saturday (one outside the park, one inside the park) while Andres Blanco hit his first on Sunday. Michael Mariot (1 IP, 0 H, 5 K) and Nick Pivetta (2 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 3 K) stand out among early pitching performances.

TODAY’S GAME: The Phils dance with the Rays back in Clearwater. Game is at 1:05 p.m. Jerad Eickhoff gets his first spring start, while much of the regular offense returns for the home game. The lineup: Hernandez/Herrera/Kendrick/Saunders/Franco/Hoskins/Galvis/Holaday/Quinn.

MANAGER’S APPROVAL: Not much news outside game action, but Matt Gelb has a piece on two prospects winning approval from Pete Mackanin.

Rhys Hoskins (homered Saturday) and Dylan Cozens will start 2017 in Lehigh Valley, barring anything unexpected. Mackanin likes them, pointing out Cozens’ sneaky speed.

That piece also drops a hint about the starting rotation. It looks as if Hellickson/Eickhoff/Buchholz/Velasquez/Nola is the order of things.

If so, that works. Velasquez starts the home opener (probably the best idea) while Nola has the option of easing into his spot (he could possibly wait until April 12 for a first start).

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