Not sure how much Pitcher Fielding Practice I can take. Which is good, because the Phillies begin their Grapefruit League schedule tomorrow. Earlier today we posted the line-up for tomorrow's opener against the Pirates. Pittsburgh plans on using nine pitchers, each taking an inning, which means the game should last, I don't know, forever.
Some news tonight, before I get into the 10 things I'll be keeping my eye on over the next month. First, Shane Victorino didn't make the final roster for the World Baseball Classic. Instead, outfielders Brad Hawpe, Grady Sizemore, Curtis Granderson and Ryan Braun. Also, the Phils have locked up Carlos Ruiz to a contract that will pay him $475,000 in the majors and $255,000 in the minors.
Let's move on to some story lines for the upcoming Grapefruit League season:
1) Who's on third? And second? Barring any set-backs, Chase Utley will get into some games during the month of March. In the mean time, I'm looking forward to seeing how prospect Jason Donald handles himself at both positions, as well as the plate.
2) Ronny Paulino: Can he make a bid to unseat either Chris Coste or Carlos Ruiz? Or even make the team as a third catcher? He's had some success in the big leagues, hitting .310 during his rookie season with the Pirates.
3) Pitching: We'll get our first up-close look at Chan Ho Park. And it will be interesting to see how the offseason has treated J.A. Happ and Kyle Kendrick. And what about Carlos Carrasco?
4) Raul Ibanez: It's tough to judge veterans in the spring. Nevertheless, I've never seen the new left fielder take an at-bat in person.
5) The young pitchers: Sergio Escalona and Antonio Bastardo are two guys I'm looking forward to seeing in action. Neither are likely to make the team. But both have had flashes of brilliance in the minors.
6) Jimmy Rollins vs. the Phillies: Mark it down. March 5th. Rollins should get an at-bat against his teammates. Who will Rich Dubee throw against him?
7) Marcus Giles: The guy looks good in batting practice. Lots of power for such a small guy. Then again, it is only batting practice. He's been out of the game for a year. He hit over .300 for the Rockies last spring training. Can he make a bid for the roster?
8) Hamels and Lidge: Both are slightly behind the curve early in spring training. But that's to be expected after such a long, intense season. The Phillies need both at the top of their game by the end of spring.
9) Geoff Jenkins: He has altered his approach at the plate, shortening his leg kick and stride. No doubt he had a disappointing year at the plate. But don't forget the power numbers he has put up for most of his career.
10) The veteran infielders: There are a ton of them in camp. We'll see if any establish themselves with a strong spring.