CLEARWATER, Fla.--The Phillies knocked off early to play golf today, and will reassemble tomorrow afternoon for the first game action of 2010, when they play Florida State University at 7pm at Bright House Field.
Points of interest for the exhibition include J.A. Happ's new two-seam fastball. The lefty is playing with the sinker to augment his four-seam fastball, cutter, change-up and curveball. As with all spring training pitch additions, he will work it in for a while before deciding whether to take it north. So that's something to watch.
--Phillippe Aumont, the centerpiece of the trade that sent Cliff Lee to Seattle last winter, is also among the scheduled pitchers. The 21-year-old righthander said that he would focus on honing his mechanics and pitches. Aumont is known for a power sinker; he also throws a four-seam fastball, curveball and change-up. He considers the curveball a strength and the change-up a work-in-progress.
"The change-up is a feel pitch," he said. "Either you get it or you don't, and if you don't it will take you a while. It seems like lefties get it right away, and it's a little harder for righties."
Aumont also said that he would try to develop those pitches without feeling pressure to succeed immediately, despite his importance to the organization and role in the controversial Lee trade. "The know what I am capable of," he said. "They know what I need to work on. Obviously, though, you could have fans or other players saying, 'oh, look at this guy. This guy got traded for Cliff Lee, he's not worth it.' Whatever. There are others who are going to understand that I'm still pretty young and trying to learn."
--Charlie Manuel said that center fielder Shane Victorino would not play tomorrow. Victorino has mild soreness in his shoulder. He played long-toss at 120 feet this morning and worked in the batting cage. Manuel said that he considered using Victorino as the designated hitter, but decided to grant a full day's rest instead.
Also checked in with Ruben Amaro Jr. today, to make sure he was still content with his roster as is. Last March, Amaro was busy tinkering. He pursued veterans Nomar Garciaparra and Gary Sheffield to augment the team's bench, traded for lefthanded reliever Jack Taschner, and added rotation depth by signing Rodrigo Lopez to a minor league deal.
This spring, the GM is focused on players in his own camp.
"Not right now," Amaro said when asked if he was actively pursuing any minor trades or signings. "At a certain point, you have to just see what you have."
Jamie Moyer and Kyle Kendrick are competing for the fifth spot in the starting rotation. If both were to fail, Amaro said, he is content to have Ryan Vogelsong, Andrew Carpenter, Joe Savery and Jose Contreras behind them.
Amaro also remains optimistic that the group of young lefthanded relievers including Antonio Bastardo, Sergio Escalona and Mike Zagurski will provide enough bullpen depth to make a trade or signing unnecessary.