The Phillies took the field for the first time in Grapefruit League play on Saturday – possibly as early a game as they have ever played in their history (Feb. 23).
All looked good with ace Cole Hamels taking the mound, and Chase Utley – for the first time since 2010 – trotting out to second base in a spring training game. Hamels and Utley didn’t simply look the part – they played well, too. Hamels tossed 2 shutout innings and Utley delivered an RBI single off Astros’ starter Lucas Harrell.
The rest of the day did not go as well from the Phillies, who lost to Houston, 8-3 at Bright House Field in Clearwater. After Hamels departed, reliever B.J. Rosenberg allowed 3 runs (2 earned) on 5 hits and surrendered the Phillies’ 2-0 lead. In fact, every reliever (Rosenberg, Zach Miner, Jeremy Horst and Justin De Fratus) gave up at least one earned run. Of those who pitched, only Hamels and Horst are expected to make the team.
In the field, which was expected to be a weak area for the team, the Phillies committed 4 errors – 1 each by Erik Kratz, Darin Ruf, Ben Revere and non-roster invitee Michael Martinez. Another familiar NRI, Pete Orr, hit a solo home run in the 8th inning to close out the Phils’ scoring. The speedy Revere did steal a base.
The Phillies continue Grapefruit League play this week with a road-home pair of games against the Tigers, then host the Yankees and Braves with a relatively long trip for some of the players to Fort Myers Wednesday to take on the Twins sandwiched in.
Cosart impressive: In a refrain that might become painful, the second wave of Phillies prospects who have been dealt might come back to bite them. On Saturday, Jarred Cosart pitched a perfect 5th and 6th inning, striking out one. Josh Zeid pitched a scoreless 9th to close out the game, giving up one hit. Shortstop Jonathan Villar did go 0-for-2 with 2 strikeouts, while Jonathan Singleton did not play. Villar was part of the Roy Oswalt acquisition in 2010, while the others were dealt straight up (along with Domingo Santana) for Hunter Pence in 2011. When the regular season starts, the Phils might get a dose of Travis d’Arnaud, a catcher whom the Phillies traded to Toronto in the Roy Halladay deal, who came to the Mets this off-season in the R.A. Dickey trade.
Papelbon on the defensive? Jonathan Papelbon, for those who followed him in Boston, opens his mouth and sticks his foot in it a fair amount. Last season was relatively quiet on the headline front with Papelbon,
Not so this season.
First, Papelbon revealed that while he took the controversial anti-inflammatory drug Toradol in Boston, the Phillies’ medical staff banned it.
OK, that was more of a shot at his old team.
But then Papelbon found himself backpedaling after criticizing last year’s team for a lack of leadership, specifically saying “[i]t was just a clubhouse that didn’t have an identity. And a clubhouse that didn’t have leadership, I felt like. And that’s not to put the blame on any one person or any one coach. That’s just the way it was. It’s just the way things unfolded. I’ve been on plenty of teams that way.”
Papaelbon didn’t back down from the comments, but emphasized that he includes himself among the players who could have been better leaders last season. He also pointed out that the major injuries took players away from the team for extended periods of time – players who otherwise would have led on a daily basis. Finally, Papelbon emphasized that he feels that way about last year’s team, but not this year’s team – which would seem to be a salvo most particularly at Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence, especially when you consider that Papelbon was very happy with how the team went about its business at the end of last season:
“I’m extremely happy with my decision to play here. I love this group of guys. The way this group came together the last month of the season, it was an awesome sight to see. If we can take that into the season this year, it will be great. We have a special, special group here. We truly do. And we have special leaders here. If we can get the most out of our team and our bullpen and our starting staff, I think that we have the chance to do some special things this year. I think we have the chance to be the best bullpen, I think we have the chance to be the best starting staff and lineup. I think we have a chance to win the World Series. I really, truly do. And I’m not just saying that. I think we have a really good shot at doing that.”