It’s only game 1 of Grapefruit League action but the beginning of Spring Training officially. The truth remains that the Phillies won 5-4 today vs. the hated Yankees and it feels good! After beating Florida State Thursday 8-0 the Phightins played their first real game this afternoon at George Steinbrenner Field.
Cole Hamels made his spring debut with a strong outing. Hamels allowed an unearned run over two innings allowing two hits. He threw a total of 33 pitches in all. Hamels in exceptional shape again this spring is off to a great start.
The Phillies took the lead for good in the 8th inning. With two outs catcher Dane Sardinha blooped a two-run single that gave the Phillies a 5-4 lead and the eventual victory. It was nice to start off the spring with a win against the Skanks. Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins missed today’s game. Rollins was a healthy scratch while Chase is still battling leg soreness which he says is no worry to him. Manuel predicts he will be ready in a couple of days.
"If there's cause for concern you'll be the first to know," Utley said.
In February any baseball is good enough for me; it was nice to be able to see the Phillies back on the field again after a disappointing end to the 2010 season. With the cards stacked in our favor for 2011 there is no doubt in my mind that the ending will be much better.
The Phillies continue Grapefruit League play tomorrow at 1:05 as the Yankees head to Bright House Field in Clearwater for the Phillies home opener. Joe Blanton will get the start along with Justin De Fratus, Michael Schwimmer, Ryan Madson, JC Romero, and Brad Lidge also scheduled to pitch.
We are still a little under five weeks to go until opening day with a lot of spring ball to be played. There will be some storylines to stay on top of. Although the Phour Aces do not seem to be bothered by what number they are in the rotation Cole Hamels should be the #3 starter in my book. I can almost guarantee that Hamels will be the most impressive Phillie this spring. He has already received high accolades from Rich Dubee, Charlie Manuel, and every beat writer in Clearwater. Ever since Hamels disappointing 2009 season he has rededicated himself to his off-season conditioning and it has shown every time he takes to the hill.
Back to the Phour Aces, they have refused to accept any nickname for the group that does not involve Joe Blanton. I think it is a credit to the guys who know the importance of team first. Regardless of how far off Blanton may be from the top 4 talent wise it is still not a complete rotation without him. And quite frankly Blanton is probably the best 5th starter in all of baseball. I wouldn’t be surprised to see some teams like St. Louis make a play for him at some point in the first half of the year.
So it now seems that the rotation needs a nickname and according to CSN Philly’s Leslie Gudel first baseman Ryan Howard is going to select his favorite from phan write-ins. Our idea here at BLN is “High Phive.” I like it! It was actually Scottie’s idea so I can’t take any credit on this one, but either way it works for me.
Opening Day cannot come soon enough but I am loving every second of baseball being back in full swing. Now only if I can take some time off and fly down to Clearwater for a game, which would just perfect it all!