It was a busy weekend; here’s the news.
PHILLIES OPEN GRAPEFRUIT LEAGUE 1-2: Records don’t matter in spring training, unless of course a team goes undefeated or loses every game, in which case we’d probably have to talk about that. But this year neither will be the case for the Phillies, who lost to the Blue Jays, beat the Orioles, then lost to the Yankees over the first weekend of Grapefruit League play. More important was seeing guys in action. Did they pitch well? (Mostly!) Did they swing the bats well? (Somewhat!) Did they catch every pop fly? (umm …)
Okay, especially against the Yankees the Phillies looked shaky. But that’s what happens when you put guys in different positions (say, Logan Moore at first base, which he has played over seven innings his entire career). Also, it’s what happens when the sun is a thing. Damn sun …
Good stuff includes Maikel Franco’s really nice home run, which came after his battle with our primary source of energy (typically our primary source of energy wins those battles). Also, Jorge Alfaro cranked a grand slam Saturday, proving that if he doesn’t strike out 35 percent of the time, he might be really good at the plate. Finally, Nick Williams seems to be the Guy On A Roll to start spring, lacing opposite-field hits and being ultra-aggressive on the basepaths in an attempt to get more starting time over Aaron Altherr in right field.
Aaron Nola pitched Sunday, and while he surrender three runs, his pitches looked sharp as ever. He was also named opening day starter, which is wonderful, because he deserves it and it’s symbolic of a new chapter beginning in Philadelphia. He’ll be the Phils’ youngest opening day starter since 1964.
The bad stuff is really one thing: Will Middlebrooks’ gnarly leg injury. He broke his fibula while tangling with Andrew Pullin in an attempt to catch a ball Saturday. While Middlebrooks is likely out for a considerable amount of time, he’s hanging with his team and passing on good vibes. Hopefully he recovers fully, and quickly. Meanwhile, Matt Gelb’s story on what happened before, during and after the play is pretty good stuff.
TODAY’S GAME: The Phillies hit the road for a Monday night tilt with the Yankees. Game time is 6:35 p.m. from Steinbrenner Field in Tampa. You can listen online.
IT WILL RING AGAIN: The bell that graced Veterans Stadium all those years, whether in straightaway center field just above the 300 Level (a victim of a Greg Luzinski blast) or way up between the two Phanavision screens, is coming back. The Phillies plan on refurbishing the bell and then putting it somewhere in Citizens Bank Park for 2019.
Who knows where it’s been since (probably in some storage area), and why the Phils are only now bringing it to the ballpark, but thank goodness. I loved that bell. It’s iconic.