Phillies Home Opener Postponed, Other News & Notes

Heavy rains postpone the Phillies' home opener to Tuesday. - Brian Garfinkel

The threat of an incoming spring storm led the Phillies to postpone their home opener until Tuesday.

Don't blame the Phillies. They didn't make it rain.

About 24 hours before the home opener at Citizens Bank Park against the Milwaukee Brewers was supposed to be played, the Phillies announced on Sunday afternoon the opener would be postponed due to the threat of an incoming cataclysmic rainstorm that is likely to destroy much of everything we have worked to build here in our society.

I'm scared, guys.

The team announced Monday's home opener would be played on the off-day that was scheduled for Tuesday. Any fans with tickets for what was supposed to be Monday's opener will be honored the following day. Monday's game, originally scheduled for 3:05pm, will be pushed back an hour, to 4:05pm, on Tuesday.

Fans were understandably upset about the decision, which is a risky one from a PR standpoint for the Phils. If it does not end up raining on Monday afternoon, the team will surely take some heat over its decision. However, the chances for heavy rain all day Monday are very high, and postponing the game more than a day in advance gives fans a chance to rearrange their plans and prevents them from having to sit in 4-5 hours of rainy slop.

In addition, this is not an unprecedented move. The Phillies also postponed their home opener at the Vet in 1996 a day before the game. Of course, all fans probably would have been just as happy if the team had postponed their entire season that year (they went 67-95).

Frankly, if I had a ticket to the opener, I'd rather have as much notice as possible. I'd be disappointed, but hey, sometimes Mother Nature doesn't care about your plans.

She's mean.

***

As a result of the home opener being pushed back a day, the Phillies will need a fifth starter on Saturday, one day earlier than expected. David Buchanan was probably the leading candidate to take that start, but the change in the schedule means he would have to pitch on three days' rest in order to make that start (he's scheduled to start Tuesday for Lehigh Valley).

The Phillies could turn to their bullpen and have Jeff Manship give them four or five innings, relying on their collection of relievers to get them through Saturday.

***

One pitcher the Phillies could use on Saturday is last year's #5 starter Jonathan Pettibone, who appears ready to return to big league action.

I'm going to brush aside that bit of Franco news because the Iron Pigs have played only four games and also because the thought of him having a bad year makes me start to hyperventilate.

Having pitched on Sunday, the Phillies could bring Pettibone up to the big league team and have him pitch on Saturday on an extra days' rest. Of course, he's only made two rehab starts coming off a sore shoulder, and was limited to 86 pitches. However, that might be enough for the Phils, who would probably look to only get about five innings out of him, anyway.

***

Cole Hamels is one step closer to returning to the Phils' rotation. Hamels pitched four innings for Single A Clearwater on Saturday and gave up just two solo home runs and three hits total, walked none and struck out four. It was his third rehab start. Hamels said he would probably need six minor league starts before being ready to return, which means if there are no setbacks, he could be ready to return to the Phillies rotation during the last week of the month.

Dear Cole Hamels' shoulder... don't be bad. Hugs, all Phillies fans.

***

Jonathan Papelbon's velocity is becoming a major concern.

After blowing a two-run lead in the series finale against Texas, Papelbon recovered to pitch a 1-2-3 save against the Cubs on Saturday. But his lack of velocity in that save has everyone more concerned than they were before.

The Inquirer's Matt Gelb noted Papelbon never threw a ball harder than 91 mph and saw nine of his 13 fastballs register at 90 or below on the ballpark radar gun. Papelbon's first-pitch fastball to the third hitter of the inning, Emilio Bonifacio, clocked in at 88. Even GM Ruben Amaro admitted he was a little worried.

"I'm still concerned," Amaro said. "I mean, I'd like to have him throw harder, to have better stuff. But we'll throw him out there and hope he's effective using his different pitches. [All players] have ebbs and flows sometimes. We'll see."

How big was that Papelbon contract again?

*checks the internet*

Oh.

***

And one final note, from CSN Philly's Corey Seidman...

It's early, but this is a good development, especially for a few of the left-handed hitters. Chase Utley has started the season 5 for 13 (.385), Ben Revere is 3 for 12 (.250), Domonic Brown is 3 for 9 (.333), and Ryan Howard is 3 for 14 with a HR (.214).

What has really helped is the production from the right-handed hitters, like Marlon Byrd, who is 4 for 11 (.364), Carlos Ruiz, who is 4 for 6 (.667) and John Mayberry off the bench, who is 3 for 5 (.600) with a homer and a double.

Last year, the Phillies hit .239 against lefties (26 out of 30 MLB teams) with a .679 OPS (22nd).

GIVE US ALL OF YOUR LEFTIES. WE WILL DESTROY ALL OF YOUR WEIRD-ARMED PITCHERS.

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