Sunday, August 2, 2015

Monday rundown: Tigers back in town, Lee vs. Smyly, Dom Brown, Inciarte and more

Everything you need to know to start your week, in the time it takes me to eat a breakfast sandwich and coffee at Panera:

Monday rundown: Tigers back in town, Lee vs. Smyly, Dom Brown, Inciarte and more

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Domonic Brown (center) stands next to teammates Ryan Howard and Zach Collier during spring training in Clearwater, FL on Thursday, February 14, 2013. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)
Domonic Brown (center) stands next to teammates Ryan Howard and Zach Collier during spring training in Clearwater, FL on Thursday, February 14, 2013. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)

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. 

4) Rule 5 pick Ender Enciarte made a great play on a line drive deep in the right-center alley after replacing Tyson Gillies as center fielder late in yesterday's 5-5 tie against the Tigers. He got a great jump on the ball. Inciarte was later thrown out attempting to steal (Manuel said he thought the cause was technique -- Inciarte straightened up out of his break, which slowed him down). The Phillies love his speed and his defensive ability. It is hard to imagine that they will be able to keep him around all season, since he has to remain on the active roster or be offered back to the Diamondbacks, but they couuld try to work out a trade with Arizona. 

5) Here's my column on the new attitude that seems to have infected most of the Phillies' veterans. I think it is because this is the first spring since 2008 that they honestly believe that they have something to prove. 

6) Beyond Lee, the two pitchers to watch closest today are righties Mike Stutes and Phillippe Aumont, both of whom are scheduled to face the Tigers (also scheduled: Tyler Cloyd, Jonathan Papelbon, Raul Valdes). Along with Justin De Fratus, Stutes and Aumont are the logical contenders for the two or three open bullpen spots, at least one of which will be filled by a righty.

7) We'll get you lineups as soon as we have them. The Phillies clubhouse is closed to the media this morning because of a Baseball Assistance Team meeting, so there won't be anything to update from there. 



Daily News Staff Writer
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