Game Preview: Grapefruit League Opener, Phillies at Pirates, 1:05 pm

Spring Training baseball is kind of like Methadone -- good enough when the real thing isn't around.  Of course we all remember how the last competitive game the Phillies team played ended.  This may be going out on a limb a little bit, but I'm guessing today's contest will be just a touch less dramatic.

Without further ado, the Philadelphia Phillies kick off their Grapefruit League schedule by heading down to Bradenton to take on their cross-state rival Pittsburgh Pirates today at 1:05 pm.

Phillies projected lineup:

1. Jimmy Rollins SS
2. Shane Victorino CF
3. Raul Ibanez LF
4. Ryan Howard 1B
5. Geoff Jenkins RF
6. Matt Stairs DH
7. Jason Donald 2B
8. Eric Bruntlett 3B
9. Chris Coste C

Joe Blanton and Jamie Moyer are slated to throw about 40 pitches each before giving way to the bullpen.

The Pirates are expected to throw nine pitchers out there for one inning a piece, mostly minor leaguers. 

I'll primarily be watching three things in this game:

1. Jason Donald.  Can he carry his hot Arizona Fall League play into Florida?  Will he force himself into the conversation to become a real long-term option at third base for the Phillies?  If Donald truly blossoms, how awesome would a homegrown infield of Howard/Utley/Rollins/Donald be?  Charlie loves him.  Hell, everyone raves about his makeup.  He seems to be emulating Chase Utley; this is a good thing.  But let's not get too far ahead of ourselves; Donald is a shortstop by trade and any transition to a different spot on the diamond may not be smooth.  Still, we can dream.

2. Jamie Moyer.  Did his age finally catch up to him this offseason?  Of course we cannot answer that question definitively with one abbreviated spring outing, but it would definitely be a little disconcerting to see him struggle today.  And with a two-year contract extension no less.

3. Raul Ibanez in red pinstripes.  Not much else to add, just the "new shiny thing" factor.

Feel free to discuss the game below.

PLAY

BALL

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