Chase Utley: 26
Ryan Howard: 26
Pedro Feliz: 29
Jimmy Rollins: 22
Shane Victorino: 25
Jayson Werth: 26
Carlos Ruiz: 28
Raul Ibanez: 29
What do all these numbers mean? They mean that you shouldn't go down to Vegas and bet your homestead exemption on Jason Donald or John Mayberry Jr. making the roster. Of the eight projected regulars this season, only one made his debut at a younger age than either Mayberry (25) or Donald (24) will start the season at. And keep in mind that Rollins, Utley and Howard were all breaking into a team that hadn't made the playoffs in close to a decade.
Does that mean neither Mayberry nor Donald has a chance? Of course not. Both player have performed well thus far this spring. Donald, in particular, is sizzling right now, with nine hits in his last 14 Grapefruit League at-bats, plus a solo home run in an exhibition against Canada. But the Phillies have only played 13 spring games -- two of them exhibitions -- which is an incredibly small sample size on which to draw. Yesterday, Charlie Manuel was non-committal when asked to size up some of his more intriguing roster battles, the chief of which comes down to the final spot or two on the bench. Here's the story, which include the manager's comments.
That's not to take anything away from the performance of the younger guys. But in the grand scheme of things, another year or half-year of development could drastically help their careers when compared to spending a season in the big leagues as the last guy on the bench. Take, for example, next season. Pedro Feliz could be a free agent, although the team has an option on him for 2010. That could open up a spot at third base, and if the Phillies are looking at Donald as a realistic option to fill that vacancy, they will certainly take that into consideration when filling out their roster this season.
Again, I'm not eliminating either Mayberry or Donald as candidates. Just putting some things into perspective.
Just received word that Jayson Werth has been scratched from the line-up. He has a slightly tweaked groin but is expected to be available to play tomorrow.
Here's the line-up:
- Miguel Cairo 2B
- Jason Ellison CF
- Raul Ibanez LF
- Ryan Howard 1B
- Geoff Jenkins DH
- Greg Dobbs 3B
- John Mayberry RF
- Jason Donald SS
- Ronny Paulino C
I arrived here in Port Charlotte around 9:30 a.m. The stadium is nice. The area around it? Well, it's nice too, if you are the type of person whose idea of a nice restaurant is Applebees. Hey, I'm all for the two for $20 special and have always had a soft spot for boneless buffalo wings. But it's times like these when I'm happy the Phillies train in Clearwater.
One thing that's great about this spring training as opposed to last spring training is the level of competition involved in the fifth starter's spot. By now you all know that Kyle Kendrick struggled yesterday, but he still has three spring training starts left to put it all together. The guy I labelled the pre-spring training favorite for the job, J.A. Happ, pitches today along with Jamie Moyer. I asked Rich Dubee yesterday what he needs to see out of Happ, and Dubee responded: "Just keep doing what he's doing." What he did last time out was strike out seven Tigers in three innings of play. He'll throw about 60 pitches this time around. A solid outing has to put him as the front-runner, with righthander Chan Ho Park nipping at his heels. Dubee downplayed the notion that he will have to make a decision on Park in the near future. After all, Chad Durbin spent the bulk of last spring training competing for a spot in the rotation before eventually starting the season in a role that some envision for Park. And Durbin certainly showed no ill-effects - at least physically - from the transition to reliever.
"Sometimes, it makes them stronger," Charlie Manuel said yesterday.
Durbin did, however, take awhile to come to terms with being a reliever. He spent he first couple months of the season wondering if he would be thrust back into a starting role at some point. I think this will be a subplot to follow should Park wind up losing his bid to be a starter, which he has made clear is his burning desire.
These recent road trips have given me an opportunity to give U2's latest number a listen a few times through. Gotta say, I'm impressed. It's like a combination of Achtung Baby and some of their experimental stuff during the mid-1990's, and I mean that as a compliment. I don't think Larry Mullen Jr. ever gets the credit he deserves, but his percussion is the backbone of this CD. It'll never touch the Joshua Tree or some of their earlier political work, but if love Mullen and the Edge and Saint Bono's tortured screams, you'll connect with it.
By the way, I had a dream about Bono a few nights ago. Not sure if I should volunteer that information, but it's better than having dreams about batting practice. We were walking across a bridge talking about humanitarian aid when all of a sudden passers by on either side of the river starting yelling the chorus from Unknown Caller at him.
If anybody can interpret that in the comments section, be my guest.
One last thing:
The Phillies have announced their annual ballot for their Wall of Fame.
Pitchers: Jack Baldschun, Ricky Bottalico, Larry Christenson, Gene Garber, Jim Konstanty*, Rick Wise
Catcher: Darren Daulton
Infielders: John Kruk, Fred Luderus*
Outfielders: Lenny Dykstra, Doug Glanville, Greg Gross, Von Hayes, Roy Thomas*
Manager: Jim Fregosi
* = Deceased