Leading off March 4th: Willis, Qualls get mulligans

Rich Dubee goes over his plan with Phillies pitchers at Bright House Field in Clearwater. (Yong Kim / Staff Photographer)

Rich Dubee always says that he gives pitchers a mulligan on their first outing of the spring. That is good news for two veterans who are hoping to gain Dubee's trust this spring. Dontrelle Willis and Chad Qualls combined to allow six base runners and four runs in the sixth and seventh innings of the Phillies' 8-5 loss to the Yankees yesterday. Qualls retired the first two batters he faced, then allowed a double to Chris Dickerson, a triple to Dewayne Wise and a homer to Cole Garner before finally getting Justin Maxwell to fly out to end the inning. Qualls looked to have trouble keeping his sinker down in the zone. Keep in mind that the veteran righty had a 5.05 ERA in the 38 appearances he made away from the spacious confines of Petco Park. Also important to note: lefties hit .320/.381/.500 against Qualls, while righties hit (.218/.255/.282). Dickerson and Wise are lefties. Garner is a righty.

Willis, meanwhile, allowed a double to Garner, a single to Jorge Vazquez and a walk to Russell Martin. He got wise to ground out, Ibanez to pop out, and Ramiro Pena to ground out. But remember, Willis is in camp to be a lefty specialist, and there is a reason for that: lefties went 0-for-2 with a walk against him yesterday; righties went 2-for-3.

It is hard to view Willis and Qualls as anything other than match-up options at this point. Willis has held lefties to a .200/.274/.288 line in his career, but has allowed righties to hit .282/.358/.430. If Jose Contreras can make it through the season healthy, the Phillies shouldn't need either Qualls or Willis to contribute in the final couple of innings. That being said, they'd love to see both players recapture some of their younger glory. They'll get plenty of chances to do that this spring.

Your morning Phillies reads. . .

--Charlie Manuel wants to see a Yankees-Phillies World Series. So does Nick Swisher, at least according to this story by David Waldstein of the New York Times. Can you imagine the plot lines? Yankees of the AL vs. the Yankees of the NL. Re-match of the 2009 World Series. Roy Halladay looking for his first World Series against the AL East rival he cut his teeth against. Cliff Lee with his third attempt at the World Series, this one against the team that vaulted him into playoff mythology in 2009. Raul Ibanez looking to wrap up his career with a World Series victory against the team that opted against re-signing him this offseason. Jonathan Papelbon against his old foe. Anyway, you get the point.

Swisher: “This is exactly the World Series that everyone wants to see. I know it’s the World Series I want to see. They’re the Yankees of the National League and I feel it’s the two best teams in baseball.”

--Dontrelle Willis and Juan Pierre talk to the Miami Herald's Manny Navarro about their time in Florida and their new positions with the Phillies. Willis: "I was explaining to somebody the other day how I never got a chance to go to college. So the Marlins were kind of my frat, kind of like when somebody gets a chance to go to UM or FIU where they always have a special place for them in their heart."

--Bob Brookover takes a look at the best double-play combination in Phillies history, and points out that Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley have played a total of only 120 games together over the last two seasons. 

--Mike Stutes was watching old home movies when he found a mechanical glitch in his delivery, he tells the Inquirer's Matt Gelb

--CBS Sports' Danny Knobler checks in with his impressions of the Phillies as they head into the 2012 season. He also says Citizens Bank Park has one of the best atmospheres in baseball. Just another case of the national media trying to hold the Philadelphia fan down. Anyway, not much new here. Can they hit? Can they stay healthy? Etc.