Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Phillies beat Blue Jays 9-1, pick Myers for opener

CLEARWATER, Fla. (AP) — Brett Myers had a strong outing in his final spring start and earned the opening day start for the Philadelphia Phillies for the third straight year.

Source: AP Associated Press

Philadelphia Phillies: Park Named Fifth Starter, Who Will Replace Jenkins?

by Jeff Danziger

Geoff Jenkins was released today by the Philadelphia Phillies. He was initially signed to help Jayson Werth out in right field, but as Werth developed and injuries held back Jenkins, he was forced to take a secondary role.

Jenkins one year in Philadelphia was way below par statistics wise, but at the same time, Jenkins will always be remembered in Philly for his postseason magic.

Jenkins lowly .246 batting average was only enough to land him a spot on the bench. Plagued by chasing the high fastball, Jenkins struck out way too often and by the time the playoffs started, and even most of the way through the playoffs, Jenkins was a nobody to Phillies fans.

Then Jenkins did something to solidify his remembrance in Philadelphia for eternity. Coming off of a 48-hour rain delay, Jenkins was set to lead-off pinch-hitting for Cole Hamels. Hours before the game, I can recall the Philadelphia bashing Charlie Manuel for picking Werth to pinch hit.

Jenkins silenced critics with a huge, clutch double that will forever be remembered in the city of Philadelphia.

Despite the emotional attachments some Philly fans may now have for Jenkins, he was stuck coming off a bench with a plethora of lefties. The Phillies will pay the remainder of his salary this season, which is roughly $6.75 million, as well as a $1.25 million buyout for next season.

Jenkins has been gone only hours, but rumors are already being thrown around about his successor (I never realized the successor of a bench player was such a big deal; only in Philly.) With Gary Sheffield being released just before Werth, rumors are starting like wildfires.

It has been confirmed that the Phillies have contacted Sheffield's agent, but specifics of the conversation were not discussed. Either way, odds of him landing in Philly are slim.

His batting average was lower than Jenkins, although he did hit 10 more home runs (with a total of 19.) Also, Sheffield may not be ready for a bench role, which he will be forced to take in Philly.

In other news, the Phillies announced Chan Ho Park as their fifth starter today after one of the most intriguing "battles" this offseason. J.A. Happ, who was the last competitor standing for Park, will be competing with two others for a bullpen spot.

Source: bleacherreport.com

Philadelphia Phillies officially contact Gary Sheffield; Reds likely in mix

by James Schmehl

It's official - the Phillies are interested in recently released slugger Gary Sheffield.

Philadelphia general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said the Phillies have contacted the agent for Gary Sheffield, according to Phillies beat writer Todd Zolecki.

Despite having not played in the outfield for nearly three years, Sheffield could be the right-handed, power-hitting corner outfielder the Phillies have been looking to score.

Philadelphia released outfielder Geoff Jenkins and his $8 million contract on Tuesday ($6 million less than Sheffield's laughable contract) and would likely scoop up Sheffield for the veteran's minimum of $400,000.

Cincinnati, who has been linked to a potential trade involving outfielder Gary Matthews Jr., might also show interest in Sheffield - though, Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said he hasn't had time to consider the option.

"We haven't talked about it yet," Jocketty told Reds beat writer Jonathan Mayo. "It just happened."

The Phillies seem intrigued and the Reds might be attracted to the veteran slugger, but is Sheffield interested in anything other than being a designated hitter? I'm guessing Sheffield's agent will shop him around the American League, first - and if all else fails, he will work the National League circuit.

Source: mlive.com

Braves look forward to new season

By Joe Crine

With the Atlanta Braves season opener against the defending World Champion Philadelphia Phillies in Philadelphia just four days away, it’s time for my annual Braves evaluation.

As a long time Braves fan, it will seem a little strange to see veteran Braves right-hander John Smoltz in a Boston Red Sox uniform this season.

Smoltz, a sure -fire future Hall of Famer, is still recovering from off-season surgery and will not be available to pitch until June. While spending his entire career up until now with the Braves, he has given back to the city through various charitable events. I wish him nothing but the best.

The Braves did sign left-hander Tom Glavine, another long time Brave and future Hall of Femer who has apparently recovered from his surgery and rehabilitation and seems pretty well entrenched as the Braves fifth starter.

General Manager Frank Wren did some major retooling of the Braves starting pitching rotation in the off season.

At the top of the rotation is veteran right-handed sinkerballer Derek Lowe, a free agent signee who had great success during stints with the Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers.

I commend my dear friend Billy Simmons Jr. for drafting Lowe, who I really think is going to be an asset to the Braves, on his fantasy team.

Javier Vazquez, another veteran right-hander with solid numbers, was obtained in a trade with the Chicago White Sox and Kenshin Kawakami, a successful right-hander in the Japanese League, was signed as a free agent.

As far as the Braves bullpen is concerned, left-hander Mike Gonzalez came back strong last season after undergoing Tommy John, or ligament replacement, surgery in 2007. He greatly resembles the pitcher he was several years ago when he was one of the top closers in the game with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

As far as the Braves everyday lineup is concerned, the middle of the batting order should again be solid with veteran third baseman Chipper Jones, the defending National League batting champion, and catcher Brian McCann hitting back to back.

Veteran left-handed hitting outfielder Garret Anderson, a very consistent hitter with the Los Angeles Angels for many years, was signed as a free agent and will platoon in left field with the right-handed hitting Matt Diaz.

It appears that rookie Jordan Schafer has won the starting center field position, but Gregor Blanco is still in the mix. Both are solid hitters with strong throwing arms. Jeff Francoer, who has one of the strongest arms in the game, returns in right field.

Casey Kochman, obtained in a trade with the Los Angeles Angels late last season, will be the first baseman. He is a good hitter and strong defensive performer.

Kelley Johnson and Yunel Escobar return at second base and shortstop respectively. They are strong defensively and usually hit the ball hard even when they make outs.

The Braves are in a strong division that includes the Phillies and New York Mets, but I think they have a chance to make the playoffs. Staying away from injuries will be the key.

Phillies release Geoff Jenkins

PHILADELPHIA - Outfielder Geoff Jenkins was released by the Phillies on Tuesday.

According to a press release from the team, the move was part of the club's effort to move closer to their 25 man opening day roster.

Action News has learned the team made the move because they're looking to land veteran Gary Sheffield, who was released by the Tigers on Tuesday morning.

The 40-year-old Sheffield is one home run shy of 500 in his career.

GM Ruben Amaro Jr. confirmed the Phillies are interested and have talked to his agent about making a deal.

The 31-year-old left-handed hitter signed a two-year contract on December 20, 2007, that included a mutual option for 2010. The Phillies are responsible for his entire salary, including the buy-out option, unless he is claimed on waivers.

In 115 games last season, Jenkins batted .246 with 16 doubles, 9 homers and 29 RBI. He was on the disabled list from August 23 until September 10 with a right hip flexor strain.

The veteran of nearly 12 major league seasons played in his first postseason in 2008. He had one hit in four postseason at-bats, a double in the resumption of Game 5 of the World Series that led to the go-ahead run.

As Opening Day of Baseball Season Nears, Philadelphia Paints the Town Red

by KYW's Mike Dunn

There's less than a week to go before the Phillies open their 2009 season and their quest to repeat as world champions.

And to honor the team, Mayor Nutter on Monday kicked off seven days of events dubbed "Paint the Town Red."

"With the 2008 World Series trophy, please welcome the Phillie Phanatic!"

And with that introduction, a very red Phanatic galloped into the mayor's reception room and shared a smooch or two with Mayor Nutter. Also on hand (above) were a couple of Phillies ball girls and members of the broadcast team.

(Nutter:) "Let's give another big round of applause to our World Series-winning Phillies!"

And Nutter declared this week 'Paint the Town Red' week:

"So there's going to be a lot of red, whether it's jackets, hats, uniforms, even ties."

The events include a blood drive on Tuesday, a food drive on Wednesday, and a 'pup' rally benefitting the SPCA on Thursday, all leading up to the big season opener against the Braves on Sunday night in South Philadelphia.

Source: kyw1060.com

Howard's way for Phillies

Ryan Howard's ninth home run of the spring highlighted a fireworks display from the Philadelphia Phillies as they crushed the Houston Astros 13-3 in Grapefruit League action.

Howard cracked a two-run shot to left field in the fifth inning on the back of earlier bombs from Jimmy Rollins and Eric Bruntlett. Carlos Ruiz later hit Philadelphia's fourth of the afternoon with a two-run blast in the sixth. Kaz Matsui went 3-for-3 for the Astros, while prospect Edwin Maysonet went deep.

Prospect Brooks Conrad hit a ground-rule double in the 10th inning to lift the Atlanta Braves to a 4-3 win over the Boston Red Sox.

Japanese import Kenshin Kawakami gave up only two runs - both on Rocco Baldelli's home run - in six innings in one of his strongest starts yet for the Braves. Countering for the Red Sox, Daisuke Matsuzaka gave up two runs, only one earned, in five innings.

Andy Pettitte looked stellar in giving up only one run through 6 2/3 innings for the New York Yankees in a 3-1 win over the Toronto Blue Jays.

Glen Perkins threw six scoreless innings as the Minnesota Twins topped the Tampa Bay Rays 3-2. Justin Morneau raised his spring average to .389 with two hits.

Home runs from prospects Ryan Raburn and Clete Thomas saw the Detroit Tigers come from behind to beat the Washington Nationals 3-2. The Nationals led thanks to Ryan Zimmerman's two-run homer in the first inning, but Detroit came back in the third with Raburn's solo effort and Thomas' two-run shot.

There was plenty of impressive starting pitching on show as the St Louis Cardinals edged out the Florida Marlins 2-1.

Russ Ohlendorf's strong spring continued as he tossed 5 1/3 innings of one-run ball in a 3-2 Pittsburgh Pirates win over the Cincinnati Reds, lowering his ERA to 0.87.

In the day`s late game Oliver Perez had a decent six-plus innings on the mound for the New Jersey Mets, but he still allowed a run in a 2-1 win over the Baltimore Orioles. Danny Murphy aided the win with a home run in the fourth and an RBI.

Source: pa-sportsticker.com

Philadelphia Phillies 2009 Preview

By Michael Rushton

For just the second time in franchise history, the Philadelphia Phillies will enter a season as defending World Series Champions.

It had been a long drought for the City of Brotherly Love. Twenty-five years and 100 seasons between titles, the Phillies gave their city its first championship since the Philadelphia 76ers in 1983. It was also just the Phils second title since forming in 1883 and first since 1980.

Not that it came easy.

After overcoming a seven-game deficit with 17 games to play in 2007 to win its first National League East title since 1993, Philadelphia was swiftly bounced out of the playoffs in the first round.

Last season saw much of the same. Philadelphia again trailed the New York Mets heading down the stretch, finding itself 3 1/2 games back on September 10. Doubters will say the Mets collapsed for a second straight season, but optimists counter with the fact that the Phillies won 13 of their final 16 regular-season games to secure their second straight NL East title.

Philly didn't slow down in the postseason either. Behind a strong rotation, consistent hitting and one of the top bullpens in baseball, the Phils went 11-3 in the postseason and captured the title with a Game 5 victory over the surprising Tampa Bay Rays.

The good news for Phillies fans is the club returns basically the same squad that won it all just one season after becoming the first franchise to reach 10,000 losses.

Seven of the eight position players who saw significant playing time return for 2009, including Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins, and some will argue that swapping in Raul Ibanez for 2008 everyday left fielder Pat Burrell (now in Tampa Bay) will make the lineup more consistent.

On the rubber, the rotation will be again anchored by ace left-hander and 2008 World Series MVP Cole Hamels, with closer Brad Lidge ready to lock things down in the ninth inning after a perfect season a year ago.

With some much young, returning talent, long-suffering Philadelphia fans might not have to wait long for another championship.

Below we take a capsule look at the 2009 edition of the Philadelphia Phillies, with a personnel evaluation and prognosis included therein:

2008 FINISH (92-70) - First Place (NL East)

KEY OFFSEASON ADDITIONS: LF Raul Ibanez, SP Chan Ho Park, RP Gary Majewski, INF Marcus Giles, OF John Mayberry, INF Miguel Cairo, RP Jack Taschner

KEY OFFSEASON SUBTRACTIONS: LF Pat Burrell, OF So Taguchi, RP Tom Gordon, SP Adam Eaton, RP Les Walrond

PROJECTED LINEUP: Jimmy Rollins (SS), Shane Victorino (CF), Chase Utley (2B), Ryan Howard (1B), Raul Ibanez (LF), Jayson Werth (RF), Pedro Feliz (3B), Carlos Ruiz (C)

PROJECTED ROTATION: Cole Hamels (LHP), Brett Myers (RHP), Jamie Moyer (LHP), Joe Blanton (RHP), Chan Ho Park (RHP)/J.A. Happ (LHP)


MANAGER: Charlie Manuel


Few infields can compete with the talent loaded between the bases for the Phillies.

First baseman Ryan Howard brings as much power as he does frustration, but as far as getting runs across the plate nobody does it better than the 29-year- old former NL MVP.

Howard got off to another slow start in 2008, as he was hitting just .163 on May 7 and didn't break .200 until May 22. However, he hit .276 after the All- Star break and still went on to finish with major-league leading totals in homers (48) and runs batted in (146) while finishing second in MVP voting.

There are some other negatives working with Howard too. He fanned 199 times for a second straight season and his walks dipped to 81 after posting 100-plus free passes over the previous two seasons. Howard also committed 19 errors last year, but that didn't stop the Phils from avoiding arbitration with their slugger by signing him to a three-year deal worth $54 million.

Philadelphia's double-play combination is also deadly. Second baseman Chase Utley played most of last season with a right hip injury that required offseason surgery, but still ended with a .292 average and a career-high 33 homers while driving in 100-plus runs for a fourth straight season.

Utley hit .352 in April last season and had 19 homers and 49 RBI by the end of May before his hip injury slowed down his power surge. He had surgery on November 24 and was thought to be lost until at least May, but the All-Star might now return by Opening Day.

One year removed from his 2007 MVP honor, shortstop Jimmy Rollins was slowed early last year but an ankle injury and hit .277 with just 11 homers and 59 RBI in 137 games after posting .296/30/94 in '07. However, the back-to-back Gold Glove Award winner did steal a career-high 47 bases last year.

Third baseman Pedro Feliz was a power disappointment in his first season with the Phils, going deep just 14 times in 133 games after posting four consecutive seasons of 20-plus homers. However, those numbers could go up after November 20 back surgery.

Catcher Carlos Ruiz (.219, 4 HR, 31 RBI) isn't going to wow people at the plate, but he handles the pitching staff well. However, teams can run on Ruiz.


A fixture in left field with the Phillies since 2000, Burrell left as a free agent to join the Rays after the club brought in Ibanez from Seattle. Ibanez hit .293 with 23 homers in 162 games with the Mariners last season and his 110 RBI marked his third straight season of driving in more than 100 runs.

The 37-year-old Ibanez is even an upgrade at defense for the Phillies, as Burrell was often substituted for late in games, shortening the club's bench.

However, there are few balls that center fielder Shane Victorino can't track down. Coming off his first-career Gold Glove Award, the Hawaiian had a .994 field percentage in center field and his speed allowed him to score a career- high 102 runs last season. Victorino also posted a career-high 14 homers and 58 RBI in '08, while his .293 average was the best he has hit in his three full seasons in the majors.

Jayson Werth should see most of the time in right field after appearing in a personal-best 134 games last season in what was supposed to be a platoon situation with left-hander Geoff Jenkins. Werth, a right-handed hitter, hit a career-high 24 homers with 67 RBI to go along with a .273 and appears to have fully recovered from wrist ailments that almost ended his career.


A healthy 2008 allowed Hamels to turn in his expected breakout season. The 25- year-old lefty went 14-10 last year, but was often the victim of poor run support as evident with his 3.09 earned run average. The lefty made 33 starts and threw 227 1/3 innings a season ago and fanned 196 batters while holding hitters to a .227 average.

Hamels then shined in the postseason, going 4-0 with a 1.80 ERA in five playoff starts, fanning 30 and walking nine over 35 innings. He didn't allow more than two runs in any of his playoff outings and won NLCS MVP honors as well.

However, injury concerns have begun to surface already in 2009. Hamels returned to Philadelphia in mid-March to have his left elbow looked at and though he got a clean bill of health, he might not be able to make his slated Opening Day start.

Philadelphia hopes that the Brett Myers of the second half is the one that follows Hamels and not the early-season 2008 form of the right-hander. Myers, returning to the rotation last year after serving as the closer for the latter part of '07, was just 3-9 with a 5.84 ERA through his first 17 starts before he and the club worked out an agreement for him to go to the minors to work out of his funk.

Putting his ego in check, the 28-year-old returned with a vengeance in late July and went 7-4 with a 3.06 ERA and one shutout in 13 second-half starts.

As valued for his experience as much as his left arm, the Phillies brought back 46-year-old Jamie Moyer to the rotation. The ageless vet went 16-7 with a 3.71 ERA in 33 starts last year. Right-hander Joe Blanton will pitch behind Moyer after going 4-0 with a 4.20 ERA in 13 starts with the Phillies following his acquisition from Oakland prior to last season's trade deadline.

Right-hander Chan Ho Park and left-hander J.A. Happ are battling for the fifth spot in the rotation.


Though the Phillies boast one of the better lineups in the National League, the strength of the 2008 squad was its bullpen, keyed by closer Brad Lidge. An afterthought in Houston, Lidge was traded to the Phillies prior to the 2008 season and was a perfect 41-for-41 in save chances during the regular season with a 1.95 ERA before locking down all seven of his postseason save attempts as well.

Philadelphia will be missing one key piece of last year's bullpen, as lefty J.C. Romero will miss the first 50 games of the season for testing positive for a banned substance after going 4-4 with a 2.75 ERA in 81 games a season ago. That will put more pressure on right-hander Ryan Madson (4-2, 3.05 ERA), who emerged as a key setup man late last season. Scott Eyre, meanwhile, becomes the primary left-handed man out of the pen while Romero is out. Eyre went 3-0 with a 1.88 ERA in 19 games with the Phillies after coming over last season from the Chicago Cubs.

The Phillies managed to acquire a second left-handed pitcher in late March, getting Jack Taschner from the Giants in exchange for catcher Ronny Paulino.

Chad Durbin (5-4, 2.87 ERA) pitched in 71 games of relief last year for the Phils and returns this year, as does Clay Condrey. Park could serve as the multi-inning man if he does not make the rotation.


Like their lineup, the Phillies bench is left-handed hitting heavy. Led by Greg Dobbs, who was tops in the majors with 22 pinch-hits last season, the bench also features Matt Stairs and Jenkins as power-hitting options from the left side, while Eric Bruntlett fills the utility infield role. However, the righty does not feature much power, similar to backup catcher Chris Coste, who held off Paulino for the position.

The Phillies are still in search of some right-handed power, but may open the season with Miguel Cairo as one of the righty options.


Repeating in baseball is tough to do anyway, but the Phillies march to another title will go through what is shaping up to be a very tough NL East. The Mets bullpen is reloaded, the Braves are hungry after missing out on the postseason the last few years and the Marlins are always dangerous despite a low payroll. Add in a Nationals club that opened its wallet a bit and Philadelphia has its hands full.

However, the Phils are not short on talent themselves and it is tough to argue against a club that basically brings back the same team that won it all a year ago. A quick start is key for Philadelphia, which can't count on a third straight collapse by the Mets. The Phils, though, will enter this season with the swagger of a champion, something that the City of Brotherly Love hasn't had in a long time.

Source: seattlepi.com

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Philadelphia Phillies looking to trade Paulino

Despite struggling through Spring Training as he dealt with injuries, Chris Coste will once again be the backup catcher for the Phillies. Coste appears to have won the spot behind Carlos Ruiz now that the Phillies have begun shopping the other contender for the spot, Ronny Paulino. According to Todd Zolecki of MLB.com, the Phillies have let other teams know that Paulino can be had in a trade.

Paulino was acquired by the Phillies this offseason from the Pirates for catcher Jason Jaramillo. He hit a mere .185 in Spring Training and the Phils feel he doesn't bring enough to the table to keep over Coste. If the Phillies can't find a taker for Paulino, they could send him down to Lehigh, although he would serve as a backup there to Lou Marson.

Making a catcher available opens up the possibility of the Phillies getting a second lefty for the bullpen in return, although I am not sure many teams would be interested in Paulino. After all, how much demand could there be for a light-hitting backup catcher?

The bigger story here is the fact that Chris Coste will continue to have a job with the Phillies. While the Phils could get more for him in a trade, they realize that Coste brings a lot to the team with both his bat and his leadership. Of course, it's really only a matter of time before Lou Marson is ready and Coste will find himself out of a job.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Changes in store for Phils' rotation

The defending World Series champion Philadelphia Phillies don't expect to have ace Cole Hamels on the mound when they open the 2009 season on April 5 in a nationally televised Sunday night game against the Atlanta Braves. Pitching coach Rich Dubee said Monday that Hamels will need at least two more starts after today before he'll be ready to pitch in a major league game. That would put him on schedule to start the Phils' fourth game of the season on April 10. (Photo of Dubee and Hamels by Kathy Willens, AP)

In addition, last year's No. 5 starter -- Kyle Kendrick -- has been sent to the minors. USA TODAY's Seth Livingstone reports the move leaves lefty J.A. Happ and veteran Chan Ho Park as the remaining candidates for the job.

Hamels has been dealing with a tender elbow that has pushed his pitching schedule back this spring. Dubee said at this point it would be a "very, very, very small shot, if at all" that Hamels could start the opener. In that case, Brett Myers would be the most likely choice to face the Braves -- and get two starts on opening week.

Hamels has said there's "nothing to worry about" and he still plans on making his 34 starts this season. Last year was the first time Hamels has made it through an entire season without some sort of injury problem -- and he threw a career-high 227 1/3 innings, plus 35 more in the playoffs, earning World Series MVP honors in the process.

The injury concerns may lessen his fantasy value for those who shy away from risk, but he's still being taken as the No. 3 to No. 5 pitcher in most National League drafts.

Source: content.usatoday.com

New York Yankees fall behind Philadelphia Phillies 5-2 through six innings

by Marc Carig

The clouds still hang over Bright House Field, but the rain has gone away just long enough to play. So, the Philadelphia Phillies lead the Yankees 5-2 after six innings.

The Phillies rallied from a 2-1 deficit with four runs in the sixth inning, highlighted by Raul Ibanez's go-ahead double and Matt Stairs' two run homer to dead center. Yankees starter Chien-Ming Wang was knocked out of the game earlier in the inning.

Speaking of Wang, he followed Joe Girardi's strict orders. Forced to hit because the DH rule isn't in play, Wang went 0-for-3 with three strikeouts. Wang, who injured his right foot when running the bases last season, never swung the bat.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Phillies Notes: Myers disappointed by outing vs. Red Sox

By Andy Martino

FORT MYERS, Fla. - Brett Myers does not want to talk about whether he will start for the Phillies against Atlanta on opening night.

"What, am I going to say no? I'll do whatever they need," Myers said when asked if he wanted the ball April 5. The righthander threw five innings in yesterday's 3-0 loss to Boston, allowing five hits and two runs. He walked five and struck out one.

Asked which pitches he was unhappy with in yesterday's loss, Myers said: "Every one of them, but I think I made the pitch when I had to. . . . I'm going to have games like that during the year. It's how I deal with it. Every time I go out there, I'm not going to feel 100 percent."

Indeed, other than a Mike Lowell two-run homer in the first, Myers maneuvered out of trouble, stranding five baserunners while throwing 91 pitches, 48 for strikes.

"He scuffled," said pitching coach Rich Dubee. "That's not all bad, either. He made some pitches when he needed to."

Cole Hamels seems unlikely to start opening night after suffering from tightness and inflammation in his left elbow. Though Hamels is optimistic about his health, the delay may have pushed his first start back by several days. Yesterday, Myers offered no thoughts on whether he should fill in.

Manager Charlie Manuel wasn't ready to announce that Hamels would not make the opening start, although he expressed confidence that many of his other pitchers could fill in capably. "We can start Myers, we can start [Joe] Blanton, we can start [Jamie] Moyer if we want to," Manuel said.

Dubee downplayed the significance of the issue. Starting opening night "probably means more to the player, but it's just another start," he said.

Expecting big things. Although the Phillies were shut out yesterday, Manuel made an optimistic prediction about his offense. "We're going to have a big year," he said. "I know we can do better than we did the second half of the season offensively. We're going have a big year. We've got guys who can put up bigger numbers than last year.

"[Jimmy] Rollins is going to hit better, and Chase Utley is going to hit better, and [Ryan] Howard is going to hit better, although he hit 48 homers. . . . I expect [Jayson] Werth to get better. I expect [Raul] Ibanez is going to put the ball in play more for us than the guy we had before [Pat Burrell]. [Carlos] Ruiz has to get better. [Pedro] Feliz can hit better, so we're talking about all nine of them."

Backup battle. Neither Ronny Paulino (.174 batting average) nor Chris Coste (.071) has emerged as a clear leader in the competition for backup catcher. Manuel said that he would not decide on that or most other roster moves until the final exhibition games in Philadelphia on April 3-4.

"More than likely, during that time span up there, that's when we'll cut our squad," he said.

Extra bases. Hamels played long toss yesterday and remains on track to pitch in a minor-league game tomorrow. . . . Infielder Jason Donald (twisted left ankle) did not start yesterday but entered at shortstop in the seventh inning. . . . Righthander Joe Bisenius was reassigned to minor-league camp before the game.

Source: Philly.com

Friday, March 20, 2009

Recap: Philadelphia vs. Cincinnati

Brett Myers struck out seven, gave up four hits without allowing a walk in a scoreless 5 2/3-inning start, as the Phillies downed Cincinnati, 8-1, in a spring training contest.

Matt Stairs doubled in three of Philadelphia's six runs in the second inning while Carlos Ruiz finished 2-for-3 with an RBI and run scored. Raul Ibanez had two hits in three at-bats, walked once and scored a run in the win.

Aaron Harang suffered the loss after battling through Philadelphia's potent second frame. The right-hander went 3 1/3 total innings and was charged with six runs on seven hits and three walks. Craig Tatum had the lone RBI for Cincy in the loss.

Philadelphia Phillie Marcus Giles Opens Up About Death of Daughter

The death of a child is something that no parent could ever forget, but Philadelphia Phillies’ infielder Marcus Giles has a constant reminder of his loss tattooed on his left arm. The series of numbers represent the GPS coordinates of his daughter Lundyn Mae’s headstone, he tells the Philadelphia Inquirer. Born 12 weeks prematurely in 2002, Lundyn survived just 16 days outside the womb. “We prayed and prayed until she died,” Marcus, 30, recalled. “Obviously, it was a nightmare, but you know she is in a better place.” He adds,

“She doesn’t have to suffer anymore. She doesn’t have to worry about the kinds of infections or diseases that she would be prone to.”

Marcus and his wife Tracy Giles wasted little time in getting pregnant again. ”It was an easy decision to have another kid right away,” Marcus explained. “We both enjoy kids a lot, and we knew that’s what we wanted.” As for the three healthy daughters who have arrived since Lundyn’s death – Arrington Mae, Sawyur Rae, and Tatum Kane — Marcus reveals,

“We tell them they have an older sister in heaven.”

Originally Published At: http://celebrity-babies.com/2009/03/18/philadelphia-phillie-marcus-giles-opens-up-about-death-of-daughter/

Phillies have growing concerns all over

by Gerry Fraley

Charlie Manuel is not happy.

The Philadelphia Phillies begin defense of their World Series championship in less than three weeks. The manager does not like what he sees.

Sloppy play. A 50-game suspension for valuable left-handed reliever J.C. Romero for violating the performance-enhancing-substances policy.

A roster disjointed because of injuries and the World Baseball Classic. Routine fundamental matters such as bunt defenses that have not been addressed because the full team has not yet been together.

Even the middle-infield combination has been in separate area codes. Second baseman Chase Utley has been recovering from offseason hip surgery while shortstop Jimmy Rollins has been playing with Team USA.

"We're going to have to get a lot of things done the last 10 or 12 days,'' Manuel said.

And then there is lefthander Cole Hamels.

The Phillies ace spent Tuesday undergoing an examination to find the cause of persistent pain in the left elbow. The organization pitched it as a routine matter that was not a cause for alarm.

Anything involving the talented Hamels, a hothouse flower, is cause for alarm within the Phillies. His innings total, including the playoffs, rose by 38 percent to 262 1/3 innings. That is a huge increase for a 25-year-old pitcher with a history of injuries.

Hamels is a true ace. He won 14 games and had the National League's fifth-best ERA (3.09) last season. The other Philadelphia starters, including 46-year-old lefthander Jamie Moyer, were 45-37 with a 4.58 ERA.

Hamels kept the Phillies from descending into losing streaks by going 10-3 with a 2.61 ERA for starts after a team loss. The Phillies had a full turn through the five-man rotation without a win only once last season.

Repeating under the best of circumstances is difficult. For the Phillies, the task becomes more challenging with each day.

"The biggest thing is we can't let what we did last year affect how we play today,'' Manuel said. "We still have to play, and we have to play harder because we are on the top of the mountain. The other teams are going to come gunning for us. They're going to push us and try to be aggressive with us.

"They're going to try to beat us because we are the champions.''

New general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. has done relatively little tinkering with the club that won 27 of its final 36 games, including playoffs, last season. The Phillies made a change in left field with Raul Ibanez in place of streaky but productive Pat Burrell and added righthander Chan Ho Park as a swing man for the staff.

(The team that signed Park as a free agent after he had pitched well for the Los Angeles Dodgers quickly regretted the move; Park went 22-23 with a 5.79 ERA in four seasons with Texas.)

Philadelphia's moves pale in comparison to what some East rivals did.

Atlanta overhauled a rotation that went 50-60 with a 4.60 ERA last season by adding Derek Lowe and Javier Vazquez, both of whom consistently pitch more than 200 innings. The bullpen should also be better with the return of lefthander Mike Gonzalez and righthander Rafael Soriano, both of whom were injured last season.

The Phillies dominated Atlanta last season, going 14-4 against the Braves.

The New York Mets also addressed their main problem by acquiring a pair of closers: J.J. Putz of Seattle and Francisco Rodriguez of the Los Angeles Angels.

A year ago, Philadelphia went 79-0 when leading through eight innings in the regular season. The Mets had seven losses when leading through eight innings, most in the majors.

"Nobody's walking around with their chest out or a ballooned head,'' said Rollins, the team leader. "Everybody's still working. We're still trying to win respect. We know we're winners, but we're fighting for respect as a champion.

"The World Series has been owned by a different team every year (since 2000). It would be nice to hold onto it for a while and be known as the champs the way the Yankees were in the '90s.''

Phillies ownership did give the payroll a significant goose, raising it by 25 percent to $130 million. Most of that went to multiyear deals for first baseman Ryan Howard, outfielder Jayson Werth, reliever Ryan Madson and Hamels. The Phillies committed a total of $96.5 million to them.

That is the price for managing success. The risk is that financial security will make this club comfortable. In winning two consecutive East titles, the Phillies have played with a hard edge that the Mets lacked. The difference showed during strong stretch runs by the Phillies. They made the Mets blink.

"You can get away from what your main priority is,'' Manuel said of the season after success. "There are going to be distractions. Any time you get distractions, it can definitely become a problem. That's my concern. Not that we have guys who don't love to play. We've got guys who love to play.

"They've got a reputation now, and they've got to live up to that.''

The challenge starts soon. The Phillies race the clock to get ready for it.

Originally Published at:

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Ex-Buchanan star Donald breaking out

By Matt James

They both loved baseball at the age of 24, but were living somewhat different lives.

Twenty-four-year-old Jason Donald lives in a condo in Clearwater, Fla, with a balcony that overlooks the Gulf of Mexico. He and his roommate, Lou Marson, wake up each morning and go play for the Philadelphia Phillies.

At 24, Donald's dad, Tom, had an unexpected, life-changing toddler. He and his wife, Debbie, were both trying to finish college and find money for bills. Tom had planned to coach someday at Redwood High in Visalia, where he'd graduated, but the baby changed everything.

Tom got a job doing janitorial work for FedEx, cleaning the office at 5 a.m., then blowing out the warehouse in the evening. During the day, he went to school full-time and got an assistant coaching job at Kastner Intermediate. Debbie went to school and taught aerobics and worked as a waitress.

"We were in love," Debbie says, "but it was really stressful."

Their baby is 24 years old now.

"I remember being 4 or 5 years old and going to my dad's baseball practices," Jason Donald says. "I just thought that was normal. I thought all kids got to do that. I didn't know it was because they couldn't afford a baby-sitter."

Tom and Debbie stayed in Clovis, and Tom eventually became the baseball coach at Buchanan High. Their son graduated from there in 2003 and is now the best infield prospect in the Phillies' organization.

Donald has been playing shortstop, second base and third base this spring, partly because the Phillies' starters at those positions have been gone. Shortstop Jimmy Rollins is at the World Baseball Classic, second baseman Chase Utley just returned from offseason hip surgery and third baseman Pedro Feliz recently came back from a November back surgery.

As of Tuesday, Donald was hitting .333 in 16 spring training games. Because of all the absences in the Phillies' infield, he's gotten more spring training playing time then pretty much anyone in the game.

No one knows yet where he is headed. Donald could start the season in Triple-A, or in the majors pinch-hitting, or even starting on Opening Day if Utley or Feliz have setbacks. During winter talks, there were rumors that the Phillies would use Donald's value to get a pitcher from the Padres or Twins or Royals. Donald's hitting is only making the decision tougher for team executives.

Why wouldn't he hit at spring training? He's done it everywhere else. He smashed line drives for three years at the University of Arizona (the Wildcats made the 2004 College World Series), then hit .304 in Class-A, then .307 last season in Double-A.

And that .307 for the Reading (Pa.) Phillies wasn't even close to his 2008 highlight.

"It was a great baseball year," says the always understated Donald.

You could say that. Donald made the Double-A All-Star Game last summer, and started in the Major League All-Star Futures Game at Yankee Stadium. He made the Olympic team, went to Beijing and hit .381 for his country. (The Americans won bronze.) Then in the Arizona Fall League, he hit .407.

It's a good life if you can get it, hitting baseballs during the day, sleeping to the sound of the Florida surf, all but guaranteed to make your major league debut this season.

"It doesn't matter when it is," Tom Donald says. "I'll be there. It doesn't matter if we're playing Clovis High, they'll have to play it without me, because I'll be there when my son plays his first big-league game."

The son is trying to keep the optimism under control. Including his own.

"I have to make the team first before he can make those type of plans," Donald says.

Well, yes, there is that. There are no guarantees. On Monday, Donald took a 95-mph Joba Chamberlain fastball off the forearm, was pulled from the game and wondered if the feeling would ever come back to his fingers. He was back in there pinch-hitting Tuesday and of course singled in a run.

"We're all just sort of waiting for him to get his big break," says Bob Bowlsby, the athletic director at Stanford. "He's stayed pretty healthy. He played pretty well in the Olympics. He's been one of the leading hitters on every team he's played well on."

If you're wondering why the Stanford AD would care about a minor league shortstop from Clovis who played college ball at Arizona, that's because Donald is dating Bowlsby's knee-buckler of a daughter, Rachel, whom Donald met at Arizona.

"He's a terrific young man," Bowlsby says. "He and our daughter have been dating for five years now. I don't think she's ever had a boyfriend for more than a week, so he must be doing something right."

Jason Donald says he would like to marry Rachel someday. His parents can't stop beaming; about baseball, about her, about the way their son's life has gone.

"Tom and I talk about that a lot," Debbie says. "We're so thrilled that our kids' lives are not the struggle ours were."

Phillies’ World Series trophy to appear on campus

by Sergei Blair

As the world-champion Philadelphia Phillies train for their upcoming season, their 2-foot tall trophy will make a stop at Temple.

The World Series trophy, which the Phillies snatched after winning last October’s historic game against the Tampa Bay Rays, will be on display at the Bell Tower March 24.

The event, which will feature other attractions such as appearances from the Phillies Ballgirls and giveaways, is part of annual College Spring Fling Week, when the franchise travels to local colleges to help promote the Phillies’ upcoming season.

Jillian Ashton, a season and group sales representative intern for the Phillies, said the College Spring Fling Week will run from March 23 to 27 and will include visits to six local colleges during the five-day span.

“This year, as an added incentive, we are bringing the World Series trophy along for our Spring Fling Week as part of the World Series Trophy Tour,” said Ashton, who graduated from Temple in August with a degree in sport and recreation management.

Although the promotional event will mostly be centered on the trophy, there will be plenty of other activities in which students can take part. Free photo ops with the Phillies Ballgirls and the trophy will be available for the duration of the event. A prize wheel will be available for students to try their luck as well.

For fanatical Phillies fans, event coordinators will distribute rally towels while supplies last.

In addition to the activities, the 2008 Phillies Video Yearbook, The Perfect Season will be for sale.

“Students are the primary target for this tour because we are trying to get all of the local colleges excited about the upcoming Phillies season,” Ashton said.

The World Series trophy, which the Phillies clinched in a 4-3 win over the Rays in Game 5, has been on a national tour since January.

Craig Solomon, who works in marketing in the Philadelphia Phillies organization and graduated from Temple last year with a degree in sport and recreation management, was designated to be the official trophy keeper. So far, he has made more than 100 appearances and traveled more than 10,000 miles while showcasing the trophy.

He says he does not permit anyone to touch the sterling silver trophy.

“The tour is an intimate time with the trophy. After the tour, the trophy may be found sitting on a podium under glass, meaning people can’t even breathe on it. But during its tour, there is no glass cover and people can get extremely close,” Solomon said.

The event will be held at Bell Tower from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. next Tuesday. In case of inclement weather, it will be relocated in the Student Center Atrium.

The trophy will travel to Saint Joseph’s University and the University of Pennsylvania following its visit.

Saccomanno's blast not enough to defeat Philadelphia

Stephen Goff

The 2008 World Series champions Philadelpha Phillies wasted no time in jumping out to an early 2-0 lead against a Houston Astros split squad in route to a 5-2 victory at Osceola County Stadium this past Saturday.

Right-hander Russ Ortiz has emerged as the favorite for the final rotation spot, but struggled with mechanics, giving up seven hits and three runs in 3 2/3 innings.

Ortiz walked three, struck out two and informed manager Cecil Cooper that he felt great, but simply had a bad day.

On the other hand, Phillies' starting prospect Carlos Carrasco overpowered the Houston offense, allowing four hits and one run, striking out four in his attempt to earn a spot in Philadelphia's rotation.

Carrasco helped his cause by containing Houston sluggers Carlos Lee and Miguel Tejada to an 0-for-6 performance. The Astros lack of offense carries on as Lance Berkman, Matt Kata and Mark Saccomano combined for five of the team's eight hits.

Kata singled and scored on a first inning RBI double by Berkman. Saccomanno went deep with a seventh inning solo homer off Andrew Carpenter.

The majority of Houston's bats remain relatively silent this spring. An increasing concern circulates throughout the clubhouse regarding the lack of offense and mediocre defense.

Philadelphia provided plenty of offense with 11 hits, including a 3-for-4 effort by Pablo Ozuna. Greg Dobbs drove in two runs, one with an RBI double in the first and Jayson Werth crushed a solo homer in the fifth. Veteran Matt Stairs participated in the action, going 2-for-3.

Cooper's club has a 1-13-2 record and continues to search for answers. For the most part, Cooper's frustrations lies with the offense and defense.

Additional discontent triggers in the race for the No. 5 spot in the rotation behind ineffective performances from injured Brandon Backe, Fernando Nieve and Felipe Paulino. The inability to score runs and lack of production from starters like Michael Bourn and Kaz Matsui have also enraged Cooper.

Houston returns to the field Sunday in a 1:05 p.m. ET start at Lake Buena Vista against the Atlanta Braves. All-Star RHP Derek Lowe, who recently dominated the Astros, gets another chance to beat up some more on the Astros' quiet bats. Jose Capellan is scheduled to start for Houston in his attempt to earn the final rotation spot.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Jeter, Rollins and Title Talk

By Jack Curry

Jimmy Rollins won a World Series ring with the Philadelphia Phillies last year. Derek Jeter has won four rings with the Yankees. Since they are teammates on the United States in the World Baseball Classic, Rollins decided to quiz his fellow shortstop.

“Well, I did ask him about defending a championship, and he gave me some advice that I could take back to the team and share with the guys,” Rollins said. “Other people will be trying to steal the formula.”

Jeter’s words for Rollins were undoubtedly innocent, but the notion that he offered advice about defending a title is the sort of harmless gesture that would have irritated George Steinbrenner in his heyday. The back-page headline may have been, “Boss to Captain: Zip Your Lip!” Jeter discussed his “advice” to Rollins in a playful manner.

“I told him everything wrong,” Jeter said. “Everything you’re not supposed to do, I told him. I told him don’t worry about winning, just try and put up stats.”

The always cautious Jeter made it clear that he and Rollins were rapping about what it took to remain a champion. It was nothing more than that.

“It really wasn’t like I was having a team meeting with the Phillies to try and pump them up and win again,” Jeter said.

Jeter, who is trying to help the Yankees win their first championship in nine years, then added, “I won’t tell them everything.”

Philadelphia Phillies' Starting Rotation in Profile

by Matt Gilmartin

Below is a preview of the Philadelphia Phillies' starting rotation, formatted to talk about each individual pitcher in the order in which they are listed on the Phillies' official depth chart. Without further adieu...

Cole Hamels stays around the plate, which is good because he strikes out a lot of hitters but doesn’t give up many walks. And oftentimes, when the batter does make contact, he just hits a grounder or a pop-fly to an infielder.

But this tendency also means he surrenders too many home runs for an elite pitcher.

Last year, his durability improved as he threw 227.1 innings in 33 starts—as compared to 183.1 in 2007—and he also began to establish himself as a strikeout machine (he had 196 strikeouts, whereas his previous best had been 177 in ‘07). Also, Hamels only walked 10 more batters despite starting five times more than he did in 2007.

Hamels’ win-loss record last season, 14-10, wasn’t super. But credit that more to a lack of run support than to his ERA of 3.09.

The only other knock on Hamels the number of home runs he gives up; he's averaged 24 allowed over his three seasons in the majors. But when you’re around the plate as much as Hamels, you’re bound to give up a few more dingers.

Keep in mind that Hamels’ command seems to have improved. In his first two years in the bigs, the 25-year-old southpaw didn’t throw any shutouts. But in 2008, he nabbed a couple.

While it would be nice if Hamels didn’t give up as many longballs, he is still definitely an elite hurler, and clearly deserving of being Philadelphia’s top starter.

Brett Myers looks more like a No. 4 or No. 5 pitcher. Maybe a No. 3. But a No. 2?

Get real. Since going 12-7 with a 3.91 ERA and tallying 189 strikeouts in 2006, Myers has a win-loss record of 15-20 with a 4.44 ERA.

He also has given up 38 home runs in 258.2 innings, or one homer each seven innings. His accuracy has been an issue, too (92 walks to 246 strikeouts).

To be an effective No. 2 pitcher, Myers will need a lot of run support.

Age doesn’t seem to affect Jamie Moyer, who's 46 years young, much. Since 2005, he has had only one losing season.

In 2008, he recorded 16 wins to seven losses and a 3.71 ERA. In that season, he surrendered a respectable 20 home runs; not bad, but not good, either.

Moyer does allow a lot of hits—in 18 of his 23 MLB seasons, he's given up more base knocks than he’s pitched innings.

Accuracy is the part of his game that has declined with time. He hit 11 batters in 2008, a figure that tied his career high set back in 2004. He’s not much of a strikeout pitcher, and his modest career high of 158 was achieved back in ’98.

He sat down a mere 123 hitters in 2008. Plus, in the last couple of years he has averaged 64 walks per season.

But on the bright side, Jamie has had a good spring, allowing 11 hits in as many innings but keeping the runs to a minimum (three, one was a homer). Moyer’s strikeouts (seven) have outnumbered his walks (four).

Despite his fading accuracy, it appears Jamie Moyer could have a competent season as the Phillies’ No. 3 pitcher.

Joe Blanton has been inconsistent in his four MLB seasons as a starter, but he is still a young player who could improve his game. He’s been doing fairly well in Spring Training and is currently sporting a 3.72 ERA.

Blanton has pitched 9.2 innings, yet has avoided giving up a home run and has only surrendered one walk. He has struck out four; if he cuts down on the hits, he could be in for a strong season.

Joe's unpredictable, and we will likely not know just how he will do until he has pitched a solid number of innings in the regular season. But he’s gotten off to a promising start, so things are encouraging.

J.A. Happ made a nice ML outing in 2008. He went 1-0 with a 3.69 ERA and 26 strikeouts to 14 walks in eight games (four of which were starts). Additionally, he didn’t cough up too many big flies, with just three allowed to his name.

Happ has impressed so far this spring, with 10 hits in 11 innings. The biggest drawback is Happ’s tendency to give up the long ball (two of his three earned runs have been surrendered via homers). But he just about makes up for that with his 9:2 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Playing with the Phillies’ AAA affiliate, the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs, Happ registered a combined win-loss record of 12-13 with a 2.11 ERA in '07 and '08. He surrendered a total of 26 home runs in 253.1 innings during those two years. Plus, he struck out 268 batters in that time but walked a mere 110 guys.

Happ is a talented prospect with plenty of potential who should find himself in the majors soon after the start of the regular season, if not at the start.

Chan Ho Park spent 2008 playing a relief role with the Los Angeles Dodgers, compiling a 4-4 win-loss record with a 3.40 ERA and 79 strikeouts while giving up just 36 walks and 12 homers.

The downside to Park is the number of hits he gives up and his endurance. Since 2002, Park has given up more hits than he’s pitched innings. But 2008 was better than usual in that respect, as Park surrendered 97 hits in 95 frames.

Keep in mind that Park hasn’t pitched true starter innings since 2001, when he worked 234 innings, so fatigue could be a factor late in the season.

Kyle Kendrick is a developing prospect who already has a lot of major league experience—and success—for someone entering his third season of MLB. In two seasons in the majors, he's had a combined 21 wins and 13 losses, 4.68 ERA, and 138 IP.

But Kendrick needs to improve his command and accuracy. In 276 innings, Kendrick has allowed 323 hits, which is dismal, even for someone with his lack of tenure. In that same span, Kendrick has given up 82 walks and notched only 117 strikeouts.

Kendrick is a tremendous prospect who could become the Phillies’ No. 2 or No. 3 pitcher of the future, but he still has some work to do.

After finishing 2008 in AAA Lehigh Valley with a 2-2 record, 5.17 ERA, and 46 strikeouts compared to a mere 13 walks, Carlos Carrasco hasn’t been doing particularly well in Spring Training. Despite a friendly 2-1 record, Carrasco gives up a run about every 1.4 innings. He also allows more home runs than is preferred (two of the seven runs he’s surrendered were longballs).

But when he isn’t giving up hits, Carrasco generally strikes out hitters: He’s fanned 10 batters thus far in the warmup games, and he often had a lot of strikeouts in the minors.

Carrasco appears to be a decent prospect, but he’s a likely at least a year away from the majors.

The Philadelphia Phillies have a solid rotation, boasting of a nice mix of veterans and prospects, all of whom bring different things to the table. The group should do its part to help the Phillies get back to the World Series, as long as it gets a little help from the potent lineup.

Philadelphia Phillies team doctor to examine pitcher Cole Hamels' elbow

The Philadelphia Phillies say they are just being cautious with their ace pitcher.

Regardless, the news out of Clearwater, Fla., that Cole Hamels is flying back to Philadelphia today to have his left elbow examined by team doctor Michael Ciccotti on Tuesday, has raised concern among the faithful.

"We do not think it is serious, at least at this time," Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. told MLB.com. "We thought it was important for Dr. Ciccotti to check him out and see if there is anything more serious than what we think."

Hamels threw four innings in a minor league scrimmage Sunday at the Carpenter Complex. The Phillies say Hamels is still on target to Opening Day against the Atlanta Braves at Citizens Bank Park.

Amaro said Hamels doesn't feel pain when he pitches, but that the elbow tightens up between innings.

The Phillies signed Hamels to a three-year, $20.5 million contract extension in January.

Phillies' Hamels to have elbow examined

Clearwater, FL - Philadelphia Phillies star left-hander Cole Hamels will reportedly leave spring training to have his sore pitching elbow examined.

According to several media sources, including the Philadelphia Daily News, Hamels will fly back to Philadelphia to be looked at by team doctor Michael Ciccotti after having steady soreness in the elbow.

However, team general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. indicated it is not presently a serious issue, and the team is taking a cautious approach.

The Phillies signed Hamels to a three-year, $20.5 million contract in January, after the 25-year-old turned in the best season of his career in 2008.

Hamels made 33 regular-season starts and posted a 14-10 record with a 3.09 earned run average. He also had two shutouts and 196 strikeouts to just 53 walks in 227 1/3 innings, while opposing batters had just a .227 average and .272 on-base percentage against Hamels.

Hamels was even better in the postseason, going 4-0 with a 1.80 ERA in five starts, and was named MVP of both the NLCS and World Series.

The 17th pick of the 2002 draft, Hamels has made 84 career starts over three seasons for the Phillies, going 38-23 with a 3.43 ERA.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Kamado Report: Chan Ho Park fighting for Phillies rotation spot

Michael Street

The World Champion Philadelphia Phillies have very few positions up for grabs in spring training this season, and one of them is the fifth starter.

Cole Hamels, Brett Myers, Jamie Moyer and Joe Blanton are all locks for the 1-4 spots, but there's a competition among the 23-year-old Kyle Kendrick, J.A. Happ and Chan Ho Park.

Kendrick started for the Phillies in 2007 and 2008, but slipped back dramatically last year. In a 20-start 2007, he ended with a 10-4 record at the back of the rotation, logging 121 innings and striking out 49 and walking 25, for a 3.87 ERA and a 1.27 WHIP.

Those are very good numbers, even if they indicate a pitcher who pitches to contact; his .287 BABIP (measuring how often balls hit fair fall in for a hit--the average is around .300) shows he had some luck and some defensive help. And giving up 16 HRs is never a good sign.

In 2008, he started 30 games as the #5 man in the Phillies rotation, and his luck started to run out. Though his 11-9 record isn't terrible, in 155 IP, he struck out 68 and walked 57, surrendering 23 HRs. His ratios were a 5.49 ERA and 1.61 WHIP—pretty awful. Not too coincidentally, his BABIP was .310, indicating about the same amount of bad luck.

In all likelihood, Kendrick's expected levels are somewhere in the middle of those two seasons, meaning he's certainly below average, even for a #5 pitcher. And that home run trend is pretty scary.

So this year, the Phillies don't want to rely on good or bad luck, so they have some competition for that spot.

J.A. Happ is one competitor for that spot, as a top prospect who gave the Phillies four big starts down the stretch last season in July and September. Though he only scored a 1-0 record in those starts, Philadelphia ended up winning all four games, and Happ didn't embarrass himself.

He's a lanky pitcher who's struck out a lot of guys in the minors, but has yet to pitch a full season in the majors. Plus, he's a lefty and the Phillies' main lefty in the bullpen—J.C. Romero—is under suspension for using androstenedione, which he claimed was part of a supplement he took last summer. Romero will be out for the first fifty games of the year, so the Phillies might want Happ to be their top lefty in the bullpen rather than the third lefty in the rotation.

Another competitor is Carlos Carrasco, a prospect ranked higher than Happ, but the 21-year-old has only had 36 innings of work at AAA last season, so they're unlikely to thrust him into the rotation unless they have to.

That leaves Chan Ho Park, who has worked out of the pen the past two season. The last time he was a starter, it didn't go well. For the 2006 San Diego Padres, Park started 21 games and finished with a 7-7 record with a 4.81 ERA and a 1.39 WHIP. In 136 IP, he struck out 96 and walked 44, not bad ratios, but he also surrendered 20 HRs in spacious PETCO.

And as bad as all those numbers were, they were an improvement over his four previous seasons as a starter for the Texas Rangers. Pitching in Arlington's homer-friendly Ameriquest Field didn't help him keep the ball in the yard; he gave up 31 homers in 203 IP there, a rate of about 1.37/game.

In fact, Park has never pitched as well as he did with the Dodgers, where he resurrected his career last season. After floundering with the 2006 Mets, Park came back to Los Angeles, the same place he started his career in 1994. Though he made five starts, Park was largely used in middle relief. He logged 95 IP, struck out 79 and walked 36, for a 3.40 ERA and 1.39 WHIP.

That was good enough for Park to get a contract from the Phillies for $2.5M, a number that might double with performance incentives, as well as a chance to crack the rotation. Park was clear that he intended to be a starter again, and passed up a chance to pitch for his native South Korea in the World Baseball Classic, a decision that moved him to tears in the press conference.

It appears to be a good decision. Until his start today, Park had pitched seven innings in two outings, giving up two runs on 7 hits, walking none and striking out five.

Today's game against the Cardinals would be against one of the top teams in the NL Central last season, featuring the league's best hitter in Albert Pujols, along with formidable batsmen like converted pitcher Rick Ankiel, last year's breakthrough Skip Schumaker, and slugger Chris Duncan.

But Park looked to be in midseason form, flashing a new changeup and excellent control as he pitched 4.2 innings, striking out six and walking none, giving up just three hits. With the exception of a hanging breaking ball that Pujols got out in front of, and a blistering line drive by Schumaker, Park's pitches looked very strong and the Cards look baffled.

There are two kinds of pitchers in spring training—really, two kinds of players: ones who are working on their game, with their starting spots assured; and others, working hard to secure a spot in the roster.

Pitchers who already know where they fit into a team's plans might try out new pitches, and will be less concerned about the final score than about how they feel during the game. Giving up a few runs or a few hits is OK, so long as they're feeling their pitches. This is warmup time for them, which is why it's usually said that in spring training (and in the early season), batters are ahead of pitchers.

But those moundmen like Park who want to secure a spot in the rotation, they're pitching as well as they possibly can, and they look like it. Park was never really in trouble today, and he's getting tips on his new changeup from Jamie Moyer, one of the best in the game with this change-of-pace pitch. It's especially helpful when you've lost a few MPH off your fastball, like the 34-year-old Park.

Rick Ankiel reached base with a one-out bloop single in the first, bringing Pujols to the plate, but Park whiffed him before inducing a soft groundout from Duncan. Khalil Greene got another hit on a soft liner to short center in the second, but he was also stranded.

Skip Schumaker got the only hard hit of the day, a low liner that went into left field, then hopped under the glove of Raul Ibanez, allowing him to reach second base and get himself in scoring position. Rick Ankiel came to the plate and Park fell behind him 3-0, and things looked dangerous, with Pujols on deck. Rather than putting another duck on the pond for Phat Albert, Park ran the count full and got Ankiel on a pop fly to right.

The threat was not over, however, since Schumaker advanced to third, and Pujols marched to the plate. Even a bloop single or a passed ball would allow that run to score from third.

But Park got Pujols to reach for an outside pitch, grounding the ball softly to 3B for the final out, and the only real threat of the game against Park. He struck out the first two batters in the fifth inning before Charlie Manuel lifted him, no doubt because he'd reached his pitch count.

There's plenty of spring training yet to come, and still time for Park or Happ to fall apart or pull ahead of the competition, but for now, it's neck-and-neck and Park is looking very solid. Whether he ends up in the rotation or the 'pen, Park looks to be ready for a huge year.

Originally Published At: http://www.examiner.com/x-739-AsianAmerican-Sports-Examiner~y2009m3d15-Kamado-Report-Chan-Ho-Park-fighting-for-Phillies-rotation-spot

Recap: Philadelphia vs. St. Louis

Jayson Werth went 2-for-3 with a solo homer to lead the Phillies past the Cardinals, 2-1, in spring training action.

Jason Ellison added a run-scoring double for Philadelphia, while Miguel Cairo went 2-for-2 and scored in the triumph. Chan Ho Park lasted 4 2/3 innings while giving up just three hits and fanning six batters.

Brendan Ryan drove in the lone run for St. Louis in defeat. Kyle Lohse went five innings and gave up a run on five hits with five strikeouts. Jess Todd took the loss after giving up the winning run in the ninth.

10 Things to Watch For From The 2009 Philadelphia Phillies

by Cody Swartz

There's always a lot of pressure on the reigning World Champions to repeat. The Phillies are no exception, but their roster is strong and talented enough that the team remains one of the favorites in the National League.

Here are 10 things to watch for from this year's Phillies:

1. Who will be the team's fifth starting pitcher?

Heading into the '09 season, the Phillies have a pretty good starting rotation with Cole Hamels, Brett Myers, Jamie Moyer, and Joe Blanton anchoring the top four starting spots.

That just leaves the fifth starter. As of now, it seems there are four choices — Chan Ho Park, Kyle Kendrick, J.A. Happ, or Carlos Carrasco.

Park was signed in the offseason to provide long-term relief. A former starter, Park filled in nicely last season for the Dodgers, posting a 4-4 record and 3.40 ERA in 54 appearances out of the bullpen. He should be counted on as a reliable spot starter and long-term reliever for the club, and appears to have the best odds to win the fifth starting job.

Kendrick was a promising young starter who played an important role in the Phillies' NL East title in '07, posting a 10-4 record against a solid 3.87 ERA in 20 starts. However, last year Kendrick struggled mightily, and was not included on the Phillies' postseason roster. Odds as of now are pretty good he won't make the team in '09, although he will be given every chance to win the fifth spot.

Happ was used minimally as a reliever last season, but played well when called upon, posting a 3.69 ERA and 26 strikeouts in 31.2 innings pitched. He has impressed the Phillies thus far this spring training and could be a dark horse for the fifth starting spot.

Carlos Carrasco is the top pitching prospect in the entire Phillies' organization. He's a hard-throwing right-hander with a nice fastball and changeup. Last season, Carrasco posted a 1.72 ERA with 46 strikeouts in just 36.2 innings pitched at the Triple A level. Carrasco probably won't make the team's opening day roster, but could get called up if someone gets injured.

2. Will Chase Utley be ready by Opening Day?

I was reading that he played four innings in a spring training game yesterday and the odds are pretty good the team's best all-around player will return to the field of play by Opening Day. Not to mention, it would take a bullet wound to keep out Utley, the star second basemen of the World freaking Champion Philadelphia Phillies.

The team and its fans should expect a typical .300-30-100 season from Utley along with a top ten finish in the MVP voting and another start in the All-Star Game.

3. Will Jimmy Rollins bounce back from a disappointing season?

Not a whole lot of people realized it, but J-Roll had a down year in '08. He missed over 20 games due to injury, his first time on the DL in his nine-year career. His percentages were down, as his .277 batting average ranked just 14th among the 18 qualifying shortstops, and his slugging percentage dropped nearly 100 points from his MVP year in '07.

Rollins is too competitive of a player to have another injury-plagued season. Expect him to return in '09 with 100 runs scored, 20 home runs, his usual 50 stolen bases, and a solid .285 batting average. And don't forget about his Gold Glove defense at shortstop.

4. How will Ruben Amaro fare in his debut season as the team's GM?

Amaro has a lot of pressure on him, especially after Pat Gillick took the Phillies to a World Series title, Gillick's third World Championship in 26 seasons as a general manager. In a city where the fans judge based on performance, Amaro had better produce quickly.

His first major move as the GM was to get rid of Burrell and bring in Ibanez — who is three years older. This seems questionable, but give it time and we as fans will see how this move plays out.

5. How long will Brad Lidge's consecutive saves streak last?

Without Lidge and his perfect 48-for-48 season, the Phillies most likely wouldn't have been World Champions in '08. I don't think he needs to be perfect again for the team to repeat in '09, but he needs to continue his dominance and remain one of the top two or three closers in baseball.

Having a guy who is lights out in the ninth inning puts a lot more pressure on a team to get a lead after eight innings, and the Phillies have that guy in Lidge. His slider might be the single most dominant pitch in the major leagues, and he used it to post a 1.95 ERA while striking out 92 batters in just 69.1 innings last season.

6. How will 46-year old Jamie Moyer pitch in his 24th major league season?

Moyer is the oldest non-knuckleball full-time starting pitcher in baseball history and virtually a player-coach at this point in his career. The Phillies are privileged to have a crafty veteran like Moyer to tutor Hamels, one of the top young pitchers in all of baseball.

Like Hamels, Moyer prefers to beat hitters with his devastating changeup and guile, rather than pure heat. Moyer led the Phillies last season in wins (16) while posting a 3.71 ERA, providing veteran leadership to a rotation comprised mainly of pure talent and inexperience. How Moyer performs in 2009 will be a major factor in the team's success.

7. Will the Phillies be able to find a replacement in the bullpen for J.C. Romero?

With Romero out the first 50 games of the season for use of an illegal substance, the Phillies are without their top left-hander out of the bullpen. Romero was a major force for the National League's top-ranked bullpen last season, posting a 2.75 ERA while holding hitters to a .197 batting average in 81 games pitched. In the playoffs, Romero was the winning pitcher in both Game 3 and 5 of the World Series.

Without Romero for the first third of the season, the Phillies have no lefties out of the bullpen other than Scott Eyre. J.A. Haap — who posted a solid 3.69 ERA in 31.2 innings last season - will most likely be expected to try to fill the void, although there is no doubt the Phillies will miss Romero's consistency and durability for a bullpen that ranked first in the league in ERA last season.

8. Will Ryan Howard's percentages continue to decline?

Don't look now, but Howard has had significant decreases in his batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage in each of the last three seasons. His OPS - arguably the most important statistic for a hitter — fell from 1.084 in his MVP season of 2006 to .976 in '07 to .881 in '08.

That's a 200-point drop in two seasons. Hopefully doesn't continue to '09, because the Phillies rely on Howard's big bat for close to 50 home runs and 140 RBI each season.

9. Will Raul Ibanez be able to fill in effectively for Pat Burrell?

A nine-year veteran with the Phillies, Burrell departed this past offseason for the Tampa Bay Rays. Filling in for Burrell will be Raul Ibanez, a consistent and underrated left fielder from the Seattle Mariners. Ibanez is three years older than Burrell, but he's more consistent and a better defender.

Burrell frequently had to be replaced in left field after seven innings of play. Ibanez can play all nine innings. And he's a solid .290 hitter who will add 20 to 25 home runs and 100 RBI to an already powerful lineup.

10. Will Cole Hamels be able to continue the dominance he displayed during last season's playoffs?

In his last five starts during the Phillies' championship run in '08, Hamels was the best pitcher in baseball. Hands down.

Hamels posted a 4-0 record along with a 1.80 ERA in his five postseason starts, earning both the NLCS and World Series MVP awards. The way he pitched was reminiscent of Sandy Koufax in the prime of his Hall of Fame career. If he can stay healthy the whole season, Hamels could very well win 20 games and the N.L. Cy Young award.

Hamels' changeup rivals Johan Santana's circle change as the most unhittable pitch in baseball. Hamels' performance this coming season will play a major factor in whether the Phillies can win the NL East for the third consecutive season.

Philadelphia Phillies' Chase Utley encouraged by hip's response to first game

CLEARWATER — 2B Chase Utley sees no reason why he won't be able to play for the Phillies on opening day.

The All-Star went 0-for-2 in his first spring game since offseason hip surgery and Philadelphia beat the Cardinals 2-1 on Sunday.

Utley led off and played four innings after going 2-for-4 in a minor-league intrasquad game at Philadelphia's training complex Saturday.

"The more I play and the better I feel, then the more optimistic I am," Utley said. "As long as we continue to have no setbacks, like we haven't had so far, I don't see why we won't be ready on opening day. "

Utley isn't expected to travel with the Phillies when they face the Yankees today in Tampa.

Park's outing: RHP Chan Ho Park, competing for the fifth spot in the rotation, tossed 42/3 shutout innings (six strikeouts, no walks, three hits). In the past two weeks, Park (1.54 ERA) and J.A. Happ (2.45 ERA) have emerged as the favorites.

Yankees: Improved

TAMPA — C Jorge Posada caught for the first time since right shoulder surgery in July, and LHP Andy Pettitte threw three scoreless innings in a 5-1 win over the visiting Twins.

"It was good to see him back there," said Pettitte, who allowed two hits. "A good day for me. I got through three innings, got through it healthy."

Posada played four innings behind the plate but didn't have a baserunner attempt a steal against him. He had been limited to designated hitter duties.

"I was really looking forward to catching," Posada said. "I felt surprisingly good."

Jays: Hot at plate

DUNEDIN — C Curtis Thigpen homered in the 10th inning to give the Blue Jays a 5-4 win over the visiting Reds.

DH Jason Lane also connected for the Blue Jays, who finished with 13 hits to back Brad Mills (five walks, two runs, four hits, four innings).

Moved: LHPs Mike Maroth, Brett Cecil and Ken Takahashi, OF Adam Loewen and INF Brian Dopirak were sent to the minor-league camp. Maroth can opt for free agency.

Philadelphia Phillies 2009 MLB Preview: World Series Repeat-Bound or Bust?

By e

Until opening day, in celebration of the coming 20Justify Full09 baseball season, we will be wasting the entire month for March previewing all 30 teams over the next few weeks.

With team-by-team divisional breakdowns, season projections, and playoff predictions, come October we'll all look back fondly and laugh wholeheartedly how wrong and how off-base our prognostications.

National League East—Philadelphia Phillies

Will the reigning World Series champions, the Philadelphia Phillies, pace themselves for a six-month 162 game marathon season, avoiding the trials and tribulations that buffered their 2007 season?

If so, then holding on overhated NL East division rival the older and slightly improved yet more maligned New York City choke artists—the New York Mets—by mid-September will be no daunting task.

The Mets mended their pitching problems with J.J. Putz and K-Rod, and may contend for title again until the first Citi Field collapse hands the phony Phillies the division crown without much effort.

Still the Mets and Phillies will duel most of the year and make for a highly competitive on hotly contested three-team pennant race.

Talks of season series sweeps over an Atlanta Braves team not expected to compete all year puts the Phillies ahead of them.

Phillies' wins come easy over a Washington Nationals team who signed Adam Dunn during the offseason assuming he'd balanced his walks-to-strikeouts-to-home run ratio. Fortunately for the Philly phans in us all, what's done is done: The Nats are still a deadlock to finish in last place in the NL East.

We expect those merciless Marlins to play playoff spoiler, for a few more years at least. Soon top young talent boats for the Pacific Ocean, lands West Coast greens, and this time costs the Florida Marlins their fans and their players and earns them an one-way trip away from friendly confines of Pro Player Stadium.

Is the new free-spending Marlins philosophy merely a mirage, eh? We digress...


Power Howard homers.

Chase Utley streaks.

Jimmy Rollins rocks.

All three are potential NL MVP candidates.

All three return behind a potent Phillies offense whose lineup now includes free agent pick-me-ups in "let-em" upgrade left fielder Raul Ibanez and rough-and-rugged All-Star capable catcher Carlos Ruiz.

Worthless without center fielder Shane Victorino leading off and right fielder Jayson Werth batting second, the Phillies' big three wouldn't put up such staggering numbers.

Notwithstanding, with Ryan Howard's low .339 on base percentage last season, both Victorino and Werth play integral parts in a possible Phillies championship repeat.

Free agent Mets killer Pat Burrell now plays in warmer weather Tampa, so the Phillies offense must replicate Burrell's stats or may be denied a World Series repeat.

Still an offensive juggernaut, the Phillies light up the box score this season, but like many in baseball they must address troubled spots. Unfortunately, Phillies pitching may be be harder to cure.


Cole Hamels expects Cy Young chatter to continue this season as long as his DL stints stay short and sweet.

Guaranteed, one of the great young baseball pitchers today, Hamels records his first 20-plus wins career milestone this season.

Conventional wisdom tell us Jamie Moyer, Digger Phelp's son-in-law, will match highlights and numbers for his 25th straight season on the way to his first 20-win Phillies season, the third in his career.

The guy—knock on wood—never breaks down and makes Roger Clemens look even more guilty with every season.

A number questions surround the Phillies' other rotation guys like southpaw starter J.A. Happ and his major league readiness. Happ's high 3.69 ERA is still lower than the NL average, but his innings pitched were also low.

Before the all-star break, Brett Myers flat out sucked, but he stepped up his game during the team's second half regular season success and pitched masterfully in the teams' playoff title push. He will need to do the same all season for the Phillies' repeat chances to stay legit.

All middle-of-the-road guys like Chan Ho Park, Kyle Kendrick, and Scott Eyre give the Phillies plenty of manageable fifth starter options. Eyre may prefer to pitch from the bullpen to help lessen Ryan Madson's increased workload over the team's first 50 games.

Remember the Phillies sensational 2008 playoff winning pitcher J .C. Romero?

He tested positive for a banned substance will sit out a 50 games suspension.

Remember yet?

Jesus Christ Romero juiced a clean Tampa team out of two wins and a World Series ring.

At what price does a team, who lived and played the game the right way, now pay for baseball's ringing steroid endorsement?

Imperfect closer Brad Lidge pairs with big new-money reliever Madson or Eyre, and eventually Romero as the Phillies go-to options out of the bullpen.

Still neither combo of the four compares to the Mets' top two eighth-ninth inning guys, and if you count Billy Wagner—look out. Madson has the goods at times in pressure situations, but is still very hittable otherwise. Eyre's inflated 4.21 ERA and Romero's uncertainty gives the Mets the edge in the relief department.

Our Prediction

So far in our 2009 MLB previews we picked the Mets to contend, the Braves to pretend, and the Marlins and Nationals to offend. But can the Phillies defend?

We pegged the Mets and Braves to contend, so the division remains a toss-up to win. As of this writing, the division remains a toss-up. The Phillies return too many of the same offensive weapons, and not enough new ones.

Regardless, the Phillies remain the team to be beat in the National League and in baseball.

It's just one of the perks of being World Series champions: You're the best until some other team knocks you off and puts you out of the playoffs.

No question the Phillies win and make the playoffs either as a Wild Card or division champ.

We're not set in our ways just yet. We'll have our official National League over/unders as soon as we finish our NL West and NL Central previews.

Hopefully, we'll have them done before the season starts.

Pat Burrell thanks Phillies fans, supports newspaper industry

New Tampa Bay Ray Pat Burrell took out ads in both the Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News, thanking Phillies fans for their support during his career.

In the ad, Burrell told fans he hopes to see them again in October for what would be a World Series rematch between the Phillies and Rays.

And I would like to thank Pat Burrell just for taking out an ad in the newspaper - any newspaper.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Rays shine vs. Phils

By Chris Umpierre

Tampa Bay-Philadelphia game very different from Series clincher

PORT CHARLOTTE — The last time the Philadelphia Phillies and the Tampa Bay Rays played a meaningful game, almost every player had on a turtleneck. It was Game 5 of the 2008 World Series, and the temperature in Philadelphia was 40 degrees.

"It was bad," Rays third baseman Evan Longoria said of Game 5, which Philadelphia won 4-3 after a 46-hour rain delay to seal the team's first championship since 1980. "I definitely don't want to play in that weather again."

Longoria and his teammates faced Philadelphia in considerably better playing conditions Thursday and got a better result. In 81-degree weather, the Rays beat the Phillies 3-2 in front of 6,927 at Charlotte Sports Park. But the spring training victory did nothing to remove the sting from last year's Fall Classic.

"I think it would be a little different if we came out on the winning end of the World Series," Longoria said. "It's to the point where you don't want to bring up some of those memories because they're bad memories. Losing in the World Series is not fun."

Longoria, 23, was just one Ray who reminisced Thursday about last year's unique Fall Classic.

Players talked about Game 5, which was suspended after the top of the sixth inning due to rain, making it the first game in World Series history not to be played through to completion or declared a tie.

After that 46-hour rain delay, Game 5 was resumed Oct. 29 - two days after it began.

"I swear, I don't even dwell on it," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "Hey, it happens. You make the adjustment, and you move on. It was interesting, though."

Maddon said the Phillies were the better team. They had excellent starting pitching and a solid bullpen.

Tampa Bay left-hander David Price, a 23-year-old who pitched the last 21Ú3 innings of Game 2 of last year's World Series, agreed.

"They had some veteran guys, and they just did a lot of things right," Price said.

"We didn't necessarily do anything wrong. There was one game that we didn't have a chance to win and that's it. The other four games we were in it to the end. We had a chance. One swing or one pitch, and we could have been winners."

All-Star caliber players can be patient in long spring training

By Mel Antonen

PHOENIX — Manny Ramirez's tight left hamstring kept him from making his Cactus League debut Thursday, but like everyone else this spring, he doesn't feel rushed.

"There's plenty of time, that's in my favor," Ramirez said after being scratched from the Los Angeles Dodgers' exhibition against Korea.

Spring training is a time for relaxed preparation, especially this year. The World Baseball Classic tacked on 10 training days, and teams are allowing key players a light load, particularly those who played deep into October.

MLB Game Summary - Philadelphia at Tampa Bay

(Thursday, March 12th)

Final Score: Tampa Bay 3, Philadelphia 2

Port Charlotte, FL (Sports Network) - James Shields hurled four innings of one-hit, shutout ball and the Tampa Bay Rays slipped by the Philadelphia Phillies, 3-2, in a spring training tilt.

Gabe Kapler went 2-for-3 with a solo homer in the sixth inning, and Evan Longoria added an RBI for the Rays.

Jamie Moyer tossed five innings, allowing a pair of runs on six hits to take the loss for the Phillies. Andy Tracy hit a two-out solo blast in the ninth to make things interesting for Philly, but Joe Nelson finished off the save for Tampa.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Recap: Philadelphia vs. Atlanta

Clint Sammons launched a pair of two-run homers, and the Atlanta Braves got by the Phillies, 12-10, in spring training action.

Jeff Francoeur was 2-for-2 with two runs batted in while Diory Hernandez also drove in a pair for Atlanta.

Neither pitching staff fared very well, but Jo-Jo Reyes held his own for the win over a four-inning start, allowing just two of the runs on four hits while fanning four. Jeff Bennett took over and surrendered five runs on five hits, retiring just one batter before getting the hook.

Ryan Howard and Raul Ibanez drove in two runs each while John Mayberry also had two RBI with a solo homer and a double for the Phils. Jason Donald was 3- for-4 with two runs scored and Miguel Cairo added a solo shot in the setback.

Kyle Kendrick was battered for eight runs on 10 hits in his three-plus innings of work, taking the loss.

Fantasy baseball preview: Philadelphia Phillies


Jimmy Rollins (SS): Prior to last season, Rollins had at least 628 at-bats in seven consecutive seasons. The ankle injury limited him to just 556 at-bats last season. Rollins stole 47 bases in 50 attempts. He's not a 30-homer guy. That was a career year two seasons ago. He should get 15-20. I think he bounces back. Has speed, good contact hitter and should score a lot of runs.
Shane Victorino (CF): Speed is the attraction. He'll also score runs hitting No. 2 and hit 14-18 home runs.
Chase Utley (2B): Coming off hip surgery and still not sure if he will be ready for Opening Day. Still an elite second baseman and if he definitely plays Game 1, he is a first-round pick.
Ryan Howard (1B): Could boost his average, but it still won't be good. His contact rate is just awful with all those strikeouts. Of course, he is one of the few guys you could pencil in for 40-45 home runs and 130 RBIs. You decide if you want to draft a three-category guy in the first round.
Jayson Werth (RF): Like Werth a lot. Has never stayed healthy, but was good when he got the chance to play every day last season. Improved against righthanders. I see 20-20 with the upside for more.
Raul Ibanez (LF): Been very consistent and often undervalued in fantasy. Keep in mind he is 36.
Pedro Feliz (3B): Decent power; will hurt average.
Carlos Ruiz (C): Has been a disappointment.

LH Cole Hamels: Heavy workload last season for a guy with a history of injuries. Pitched 40 more innings than the year before. Don't overpay.
RH Brett Myers: He bounced back after minor league demotion and finished strong. Home runs hurt him in the first half and he induced more grounder and allowed less fly balls in the second half. Could be a good value pick.
LH Jamie Moyer: Just don't see him repeating last season.
RH Joe Blanton: Will throw a lot of innings. That's the best I can say.
RH Kyle Kendrick: Just not very good. Happ could win the job.

RH Brad Lidge: Almost impossible to duplicate last season. Will Philly fans boo when he blows first game of season? He's an elite closer.

RH Ryan Madson
LH J.C. Romero

J.A. Happ (LHP)
Chan Ho Park (RHP)
Geoff Jenkins (OF)
Jason Ellison (OF)
John Mayberry (OF)
Greg Dobbs (3B)
Ronny Paulino (C)
Chris Coste (C)

C: Ruiz vs. Paulino
5th SP: Kendrick vs. Happ

Carlos Carrasco (RHP)
J.A. Happ (LHP)
Lou Marson (C)
Jason Donald (SS)