Everything you need to know to start your week, in the time it takes me to eat a breakfast sandwich and coffee at Panera:
1) The Phillies (0-1-1) are hosting the Tigers today after tying Detroit in Lakeland yesterday. Lefty Drew Smyly will square off against lefty Cliff Lee. It is Lee's spring training debut. He'll pitch about two innings, which is standard for the first spring start. Turns out, Lee is something of a role model for Smyly, who hails from the same part of Arkansas as the veteran. Smyly texted Lee last season when he was struggling with his cutter. Lee's advice probably will not come as much of a surprise to those of us who have watched him the past few seasons. More from the Detroit Free Press here. Today's game is on MLB Network.
2) Roy Halladay had an encouraging debut yesterday. He said he could not remember how he felt after his first start last spring, but that he was much more "free and easy" than he was at the end of the regular season. The most encouraging report probably came from Torii Hunter, who noted that Halladay's fastball had its customary late life, something that the Phillies felt was missing at times last season. The radar gun was also bearing good news: Halladay was sitting at 89 on his fastball and 87 on his cutter. When Halladay is at his best, he is sitting 92-93 on his fastball. Last year he was more like 90-91. That's not to say that velocity was THE problem, and Halladay and pitching coach Rich Dubee will usually argue that velocity is rarely THE problem. But it is an objective measure, the decrease of which often correlates with whatever happens to be THE problem. So the fact that Halladay is right where he usually is at this time of year is positive news for the Phillies. More on the good doctor here from Ryan Lawrence.
3) Those of you who read this blog know how I feel about Domonic Brown, and that as long as he is healthy he should enter the season as the Phillies regular rightfielder regardless of what happens on the field in spring training, because he is the only option with any sort of upside after a couple of offseasons in which the team declined to spend significant money on free agent corner guy. But the Phillies clearly feel like Brown must "win" a job, going to the length of bringing in an injured Delmon Young with the hope that he can play right field. A month's worth of meaningless at-bats fresh off the offseason isn't the most integritous sample size in a sports where even Hall of Famers can struggle for weeks at a time. But, as the kids say, it is what it is, and so it is good news for #DomNation that the 25-year-old one-time top prospect is the only corner outfielder in camp who is off to a solid start. He crushed a pinch-hit home run off of Al Alburquerque, who may sound like a Sam Elliott character but is actually a hard-throwing set-up man for the Tigers. Here's Ryan's notebook from today's Daily News, for more on what Brown can, wait for it, do for the Phillies this season.