New PODCAST!, plus today's coverage from Clearwater

"I'm excited about our team. I'm excited about our pitching staff." Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)

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Welcome to Day 6 of spring training, also known as the first full squad workout. Charlie Manuel addressed the team this morning at 9:15 a.m., something he does every spring when the position players report for their first official workout. Usually he emphasizes that he and his coaches will treat every player in camp as if he has an opportunity to win a job. Mike Stutes took that to heart last year. I sense a little bit of urgency coming from Manuel with regard to his offense. He's a proud man, and he takes the Phillies' inconsistency personally. I expect that to be addressed as well. 

The temperature: 75 degrees and sunny

The outfield flags: Flying from right field to left field. 

At the bottom of this post, you will find the latest episode of our brand new Daily-News-meets-Sports-Radio concoction, the Philadelphia SportsWeek PODCAST!. Whether you stream it here on the site, download it via iTunes, or download it via the RSS feed, make sure you tune in. 

Basically, I commandeered a broadcast booth here at Bright House Field then lured the Inquirer's Bob Brookover and the Daily News' Sam Donnellon upstairs with promises of baked goods and then locked the door. We proceeded to discuss some of the more interesting story lines of this first week of spring training, from Kyle Kendrick's new contract to the possibility of Joe Blanton getting traded to the minor leaguer we are most interested in watching.

I also caught up with Fox Sports and MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal, who always has an accurate finger on the pulse of the Phillies. We talked about Blanton, Roy Oswalt, and the marketplace for Cole Hamels' next deal. He thinks Hamels will be valued higher than Giants righty Matt Cain

Anyway, give it a listen, subscribe via iTunes, then shoot me an email ( if you have a question or comment that you want me to bring on air the next time we tape. 

And as always, feel free to weigh in with your $.02 in the comments section.


This Morning's Spring Training stories from the Inquirer, Daily News and

1. BROOKOVER: On Charlie Manuel's Big Top Hitting Revival...

"Here, in the embryonic stage of spring training, Manuel's plan for change is taking shape.

You could see it Wednesday when Jim Thome, Manuel's kindred spirit and first prized hitting student, spent a long time talking about hitting with Ryan Howard during and after a live batting-practice session at Bright House Field.

You could see it again Thursday when Thome sat at a table in the clubhouse and talked hitting with John Mayberry Jr. and Domonic Brown.

And on the eve of Friday's first full-squad workout, Manuel summoned shortstop Jimmy Rollins to his office for a lengthy conversation that eventually turned to - what else? - hitting."

2. GELB: On Chase Utley's new conditioning routine...

"The blue step stool is where it belongs - in a closet at Bright House Field, or filling a more practical use than fielding ground balls. Maybe Chase Utley burned the thing when he left here for good last May.

No, that step stool is not what will save Utley's right knee and his career. The Phillies and their second baseman know a great deal more about the degenerative patellar tendinitis and how it must be managed. They recognize it's never going away. Utley, 33, will either play through the pain or succumb to it."

3. SHERIDAN: On the Ryan Braun situation. . .

"How did MLB screw up? First, we never should have known about Braun's positive test. That story was leaked to ESPN in December. You can't fault the reporters here. If a source tells you that the man just named National League MVP failed a drug test for having remarkably high testosterone levels, and if that information can be confirmed, that's a major story. MLB needs to figure out how the story got out. Not so much to punish anyone as to tighten things up so fewer people know confidential information.

When I first wrote about former Phillies reliever J.C. Romero's positive test in January 2009, the story came from the player's side. Romero wanted to get ahead of the story before his appeal was heard (and denied, as it turned out) and he was suspended for cheating."

4. MURPHY: On Chase Utley's performance in 2011. . .

"Spring is a time for optimism, so there is your foundation. Last year at this time, Utley's entire focus was trained on getting back on the field, an objective that was in doubt for most of spring training. This year, he is coming off an offseason workout routine that he adjusted with the knee condition in mind. Remember that long warning-track fly ball late in Game 5 against the Cardinals? Utley admitted that, in previous seasons, the same swing might have resulted in a game-tying home run."