In the 1st of 3 games against the Yankees to start Spring Training, the Phillies dropped the game by a score of 8-5. Cole Hamels started the game and tossed 2 innings, allowing 1 run.
The Yankees and their fans were salivating as Hamels pitched because Hamels could be a free agent after this year. Hopefully, the Phillies will handle that issue before it comes down to a financial slug-fest with the Yanks. Because we all know who wins that particular battle…
The first recorded RBI of spring came off the bat of Raul Ibanez…in a Yankees uniform. The Phils will miss Ibanez’s personality in the clubhouse, but it was time to part and get a little younger in the outfield. I wish Raul the best!
When watching early spring games, it can be hard to judge a players performance. The games do not count, so wins and losses are just a meaningless statistic. Veteran players are the most difficult to judge as they will use spring to get in shape and work on their technique. So if a guys like Hamels, for example, gives up 5 runs, it does not mean much. Maybe he is working on his grip, his delivery or trying out something new. Spring is the time for veterans to pace themselves, avoid injury and work out the kinks.
What you should really be looking at are the young guys and the players fighting for a roster spot. This year, the Phillies have a number of battles brewing. Both the bullpen and the bench have spots ready for the taking.
In the pen, watch for Dontrelle Willis, Justin DeFratus, Phillppe Aumont and Michael Schwimer, among others, to be vying for a spot on the big club. Now, unlike the veterans, these are the guys who need to bring it every time they are out there. It is all about who makes the biggest impression.
Willis pitched 1 inning yesterday and gave up a run on two hits. Willis showed signs of the pitcher he used to be, but then also left his fastball up in the zone way too many times. And there are plenty of younger guys standing by to try to knock him off.
As for the bench, Michael Martinez, who was here last year, now has a lot more competition to deal with. Other utility guys like Scott Podsednik and Juan Pierre will be trying to make the team as well. Podsednik is especially intriguing as he hit .304 and .297 in 2009 and 2010. But he missed the 2011 season with a foot injury. If he does well this spring and stays healthy, he has a shot to make the team as an extra outfielder.
This should be a very entertaining spring.
Game 2 with the Yankees today starts at 1:05pm today where we get our first look of the year at Roy Halladay in action!
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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography