Phillies attempt to answer questions in spring training

Phillies attempt to answer questions in spring training

Kaylin Magosin ('14)/ Eastside Staff

The Phillies gained attention—a lot of attention— after signing ace pitcher Cliff Lee December 15, 2010.   In December, the teams that were expected to sign him were the talk of baseball.  When he shockingly signed with the Phillies, the Phillies got more attention added to their already popular focus.  Yes, the pitching has been the talk for months, but as the team is in Spring Training, more than just the pitchers are in the spotlight. 

The fieldsmen are psyched and ready to perform.  In addition, Manager Charlie Manuel is set to lead the team to more success, even though Manuel’s contract is yet to be negotiated for the 2012 season.   The team as a whole looks to be the best in baseball and eyeing another World Series. Each player is doing his part, and each is optimistic about the upcoming season.  

With Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels already in the rotation, acquiring Lee just made it better.  These four are all outstanding pitchers, and each one could be number one in the rotation.  Also, the fifth pitcher, Joe Blanton, is comparable to other teams’ second or third man.  All starting pitchers as well as returning relievers look good so far in the Grapefruit League. 

The fieldsmen, novice and veteran, are ready to perform.  Entering into the final year of his contract, Jimmy Rollins is looking for a bounce-back season, after finishing the 2010 season with a .243 batting average, and only playing in 88 games, the fewest in his career.  He is determined to have a successful 2011 season. 

Rollins said, “We’ll win 100 games.  I really plan on going after [the record for wins in a season]…But that requires everybody doing their job.”

Placido Polanco has recovered from his elbow injury after receiving surgery in the off-season.  However, Chase Utley has had knee tendinitis since February and possibly since last year.  This has not alleviated, so on Friday, March 4, he received a cortisone shot.  If the shot does not help after a couple days, the Phillies will see what the next step is.  Utley’s teammates are concerned about his condition. 

Polanco said, “He’s got to be really hurting to not be playing. That’s why I’m a little worried.”

Ryan Howard is ready to re-establish himself as the power hitter he once was, that is, until last year.  By posting very low numbers, with only 31 homers, last year, he struggled. This year, he has adjusted his hitting. So far in Spring Training his batting average is .316, which shows that he has been making things happen at the plate. 

Howard said, “I can’t tell you [what I did to improve]. Only I can know. [It’s] for everyone else to just watch, to sit back and watch…it’s a little bit of everything. Some mechanical things.”

Outfielders Shane Victorino and Raul Ibanez are ready for the season.  Ibanez has been training hard this off-season in a Cherry Hill sports facility and is ready to make a mark in the 2011 season.   

Victorino won the Golden Glove award last season and continues to be versatile in center field.  He was not happy with last year’s hitting setback, but knows he and the Phillies need to get over the hump.

Victorino said, “If we go out there and hit, we should be fine.”

One new face added to the roster is Delwyn Young.  The 28-year-old can play multiple positions, which is good in a franchise like the Phillies, although hard often on young players. 

“Sometimes it’s not that good to be that good at everything; sometimes it’s harder to hone one position when the next day you’re here and the next day you’re there,” Young said. 

One question that has been on the minds of general manager Ruben Amaro and Charlie Manuel is the situation in right field.  After losing Jayson Werth to the Washington Nationals, Ben Francisco, Dominic Brown and John Mayberry Jr. have been contenders to fill the right field spot.  Francisco has had a stellar preseason, with a .320 batting average, two home runs and eight hits.  Brown, who has been struggling at the plate, is confirmed to have a wrist fracture and will receive surgery, requiring a four-to-six-week recovery.  Mayberry has a .273 batting average, two homeruns and six hits. 

Staying healthy and meeting preseason expectations will bring the Phillies to another Red October.