Hope springs eternal. In less than 30 days pitchers and catchers will report to Bright House Field. The first full squad workout is scheduled for Thursday February 15th, three days later. Frenchys. Grouper sammies. 80 degrees in the breeze. The smell of salt water wafting through the air.
While the winter has been long, cold, and not quite what we've been accustomed to in recent years, I for one can't wait. In recent years, the only competition and questions surrounding the Phillies going into Spring Training have been centered upon filling depth holes to the pitching staff, and competition for bench spots. Aside from the Chase Utley "is he or isn't he ready to go" merry go round the past two years, the Phillies have gone into the spring with a pretty full roster in recent years.
They've also entered with at least one major off season acquisition. This year, they've made a few moves, but nothing that would be considered a "splash".
This year, that's all gonna be turned upside down. Many questions surround the 2013 Phillies, from age and injury bounce-backs, to youth and expectations.Who plays LF? Who plays RF? Who ends up in the rotation? Will Halladay be Halladay? Is Hamels shoulder really ok? Will Ryan Howard recover from his Achilles injury? Can newcomers Michael Young, Ben Revere and Mike Adams live up to expectations? (Or in the case of young, exceed them, cause lets face it, what are we really expecting?) Is this the year that Dom Brown finally lives up to potential? Is Darin Ruf the next Greg Luzinski, or just a flash in the pan? Will Erik Kratz be able to handle the job while Chooch is out?
How will the young guys not expected to break camp with the team, Asche, Joseph, etc.. on the 40 man roster going to look? Who will be the young player to impress a la Diekman or Stutes?
Speaking of Stutes, hey guys, remember Mike Stutes?
Are the Phillies really going to go into April without making another move? Seriously. They're not really gonna are they?
And yes. it would not be February if we didn't ask about Chase Utley's knee.
30 29 days and counting!
So loyal readers, I ask of you. Three questions. simple answers in the comments.
1. What will be the biggest story to come out of Clearwater this spring?
2. Which player will be the biggest "surprise" of the spring and why?
3. What storyline are you most interested in this spring and why?
And before you get all hope is lost on me before we've even started, I give you the 2011 OPENING DAY ROSTER. You know, from the year we won 102 games.
Wilson Valdez. Pete Orr. Michael Martinez. Ben Francisco. Ross Gload. Danny Baez. JC Romero.
And your 2011 opening day lineup?
- Victorino CF
- Polanco 3B
- Rollins SS
- Howard 1B
- Ibanez LF
- Ben Francisco RF
- Carlos Ruiz C
- Wilson Valdez 2B
- Halladay P
Let that sink in. Now send positive thoughts to Chase Utleys knees, Roy and Coles shoulders, and Ryans Achillies. and maybe Ryan's bats against lefties too.