Lots of stuff going on in Clearwater today, starting with another Phils Grapefruit League win--their fourth straight, by an 8-3 score over the Twins. Highlights included another Ryan Howard bomb (#8 on the spring), Brett Myers throwing 3 2/3 scoreless innings, and Aaron Rowand snapping an 0-for-20 skid with a three-run homer off the delightfully named Boof Bonser, who I think began life as a Dick Tracy bad guy.
The Phils also made their first cuts of the spring today, assigning ten players to minor-league camp:
Outfielder Michael Bourn and left-hander Daniel Haigwood were optioned to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, while Zack Segovia was sent to Reading. Other players reassigned were catcher John Vanden Berg, left-hander Matt White, right-hander Aaron Myette and right-hander Jeremy Cummings.
No big shocks here, though I guess I'm mildly surprised that White and Cummings, both of whom I saw pitch well in Florida this past weekend (next story will cover all that, with pics), shipped out so soon. I wonder if White might not have some trade value; as a lefty specialist, he isn't going to join Fultz, Cormier, and Rhodes on the 25-man and probably wouldn't even beat out Eude Brito, but surely somebody will want him.
Speaking of lefties, Cole Hamels saw his first action of the spring in an intersquad game Tuesday afternoon, and evidently was pretty sharp: two innings, 29 pitches, two hits, a walk, two strikeouts.
In his first game action since July, Hamels allowed two hits and a walk, while striking out two. He shattered fellow prospect Greg Golson's bat to start the game.
"This will be a good day," Hamels said he thought to himself on the mound after breaking Golson's bat. "How many bats can I break?"
More importantly, Hamels said he felt fine after his mound workout and hour in the trainer's room afterward.
The Phils hope to see Hamels on the mound again this Sunday. It's still not clear where he'll start the season: AA Reading seems the most likely landing spot, but an argument can be made for keeping the fragile southpaw in Clearwater's warmer climes come April.
Aside perhaps from the two pitchers I mentioned earlier, nobody reassigned today was really in the mix for one of the still-open bench or bullpen slots. In the race for the fifth outfield job, Ken Mandel seems to think Shawn Garrett (6-24, 2 HR) has the early edge; I wasn't impressed at all with Garrett's hitting this weekend, but obviously two games don't tell you very much. Josh Kroeger (4-19, 1 HR) and Chris Roberson (8-27, 2 HR, 1 SB) are still getting at-bats, and spare infielders Matt Kata and Chris Coste could figure into Charlie Manuel's decision as well. Here's a link to the Phils' spring stats.
Among the relievers, I think Julio Santana is pretty close to nailing down a sure spot alongside Fultz, Rhodes, Cormier and Tom Gordon. Geoff Geary is probably on fairly solid ground as well. Rule V pickup Chris Booker has yet to get into a game; presumably the club will try to shunt him to AAA Scranton for a season-opening rehab stint, and then figure out what to do with him. That leaves Ricardo Rodriguez, who's still under the impression that he might win a starting slot (ain't gonna happen), fighting it out with Aquilino Lopez, Ryan Cameron, Clay Condrey, Brian Sanches and maybe Yoel Hernandez. My guess is Rodriguez gets the spot, though I'd still much prefer to see Lopez take it; when in doubt, go with the guy who can miss bats on occasion.