Most everybody assumed Cole Hamels would be the Phillies' Opening Day starter.
The Phillies announced yesterday that Brett Myers would start March 31 agaisnt the Washington Nationals at Citizens Bank Park. Cole Hamels will start April 2 against the Nationals. Myers considered the news a surprise, but in terms of surprises it's not the biggest in the world. Myers started Opening Day last year, so he's been there before. He also has been in the big leagues since 2002, while Hamels has been here since 2006. So he has seniority over Hamels. Sometimes that plays a role. But while those reasons might have played a small role in the decision, they certainly were not the two biggest reasons the Phillies chose Myers over Hamels:
1) They want Myers to concentrate on being a starter, and not think about the possibility he could return return to the bullpen this season. We asked him about that possibility the other day, when we learned that Brad Lidge needed arthroscopic surgery on his right knee. The question made sense because the Phillies moved Myers from the rotation to the bullpen last year. Myers has made it clear that he loves to close, so he said he'd be open to the move if asked. But the Phillies have no plans -- none, zero, nada, zilch -- to move Myers to the bullpen this season, even if Lidge misses an extended period of time. So why even let Myers think about it? By making him the Opening Day starter, they pump him up a bit and get him thinking about winning 18 games -- not saving 40.