Grapefruit League baseball is not exactly “march madness” but every game does tell small stories so that we might learn a little more about the Phillies. Somethings we already know and maybe somethings that we have yet to fully understand. We know Hunter Pence is poised to have a career year. He is at the peak of his career. Last year he was fourth in batting average and eight in RBIs in the National League. If he can hit more long balls during the regular season like he did in his first at bat today, he can hit for the Triple Crown. On the other hand, Dontrelle Willis might not be the left handed relief pitcher the Phillies are looking for but in today’s game Raul Valdes looked like a lefty of interest out of the pen who could earn a spot getting left handed batters out.
Left fielder Juan Pierre is another player of interest. Ruben has until March 31st to decide or not to add him to the 25 man roster or he can become a free agent. The lineup needs table setters who can get on base, play a little small ball by stealing a base and set up RBI opportunities for Utley, Pence and Mayberry in the three, four and five power holes in the lineup. We saw today Pierre slap a single and steal a base. He is one of the best bunters in baseball. He might be just what the Phillies need. Ruben has said that Domonic Brown can win an opening day spot in left but more likely Brownie will open the season as Lehigh Valley’s left fielder.
We learned something in today’s game we already knew that Tyson Gillies is a special player. Two hits including a double, an RBI and running all over the place in center, that’s the Gillies we expected when he was acquired in the Cliff Lee trade. But can he stay healthy? He has missed two seasons with various injuries. He plays at 110%. His speed is unequaled. Sometimes that enables him to do the impossible but can he last the season trying so hard all the time? Let’s hope so. He needs to pace himself so he can be penciled into the lineup everyday on one of the top minor league teams this season.
The minor league pitchers and catchers reported on Friday and have begun their workouts at the Complex. We hope to have a full report soon.
After the first game of spring training even the the best baseball minds in the business need a couple of more weeks to figure things out. We will be here though to give our cogent commentary trying to figure out what awaits around the corner.