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Phillies' 2015 Grapefruit League Rotation Takes Shape


Spring Training is closer than you may think. 

In just a few days, Phillies players will lace up for game action for the first time since their 2-1 defeat against the Atlanta Braves on September 28th to close out the 2014 season.

Friday afternoon, Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News shared who will get the starting nod on Tuesday, as well as in subsequent games thereafter, as the team kicks off their 12th season at Bright House Field (formerly Bright House Networks Field) in Clearwater, Florida. Below is a tabulation of information provided by Lawrence, as well as game broadcast information.



2014 Stats


Spring Training Debut

Start Time (EST)



Jerome Williams



4.77 ERA

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

vs. New York Yankees

1:05 pm

CSN, MLBN (delay)

1210 WPHT, 94 WIP

Aaron Harang*

Kevin Slowey



3.57 ERA


5.30 ERA

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

at New York Yankees

1:05 pm


Cliff Lee



3.65 ERA

Thursday, March 5, 2015

at Houston Astros

1:05 pm


Cole Hamels



2.46 ERA

Friday, March 6, 2015

vs. New York Yankees

1:05 pm



* Update 3/3/15: Per Jim Salisbury, Aaron Harang has been scratched from Wednesday's start as he is 'working on mechanical things' in the bullpen. RHP Kevin Slowey will start instead.

2015 Phillies Broadcast Schedule

Cliff Lee being scheduled to start on Thursday is a positive sign towards him fully recovering from a sore left elbow suffered last season on July 31st. Aaron Harang will make his Phillies' debut on Wednesday, following Jerome Williams' opener nod on Tuesday. Left-handed ace Cole Hamels, who has been involved in trade talks throughout the entire offseason, will officially begin his 10th season as a Phillie in his first start of the Spring next Friday.

Before kicking-off official Grapefruit League action, the Phillies will first play an exhibition game against the University of Tampa's Spartans this Sunday at 1:05 pm EST. The following pitchers are scheduled to make an appearance, per Lawrence:

image from
(Sunday's lineup via @ryanlawrence1)

Matt Rappa (@mattrappa) is a contributor to

Reeling Wizards Face Off With Sixers In South Philly


The Sixers are 12-45. They just traded away one of their better players in Michael Carter-Williams. They are trying to integrate multiple players on the fly, and their defense is suffering because of it. They are also trying to get a good draft pick, so maybe this is all good? I believe it was the great Rosie Perez in "White Men Can't Jump" who said, "Sometimes when you win, you really lose. And sometimes when you lose, you really win. And sometimes when you win or lose, you actually tie. And sometimes when you tie, you actually win or lose." I think that sums up tonight game against the Wizards in a nut shell.

After a road victory against the Lakers on January 27th, the Wizards sat at 31-15, in the conversation for an Eastern Conference Finals appearance and headed towards a home court playoff series. Since then, the Wizards have gone 2-10 over their last 12, have slipped to 5th place in the Eastern Conference, and lost their 2nd best player Bradley Beal to what was ultimately revealed to be a stress fracture in his right fibula. As might be expected, the Wizards aren't quite as happy-go-lucky as they were earlier in the season.

The Sixers themselves aren't looking too hot these days, struggling with defensive rotations and a plague of turnovers on their house. So perhaps tonight is a game to get back on track, but is that what we want? Many of us Sixers fans have started a new hobby since the trade deadline, and that is watching where our myriad of potential first round draft picks currently stand. It IS possible that we could have four first round picks if many things happen in our favor, and some of these picks could be pretty darn good.

And this brings us back to Rosie. If you are of the "Lose More for Okafor" camp, well then you would clearly like a loss tonight so that the Sixers can further cement their position as the 2nd worst team in the league. But if you are paying closer attention to the many nuances of the Sixers picks, you might want a win. The Wizards currently have the 19th worst record in the league. The OKC Thunder sit at 17th worst. The Thunder owe us their first round pick, but it is top-18 protected. So that means the Thunder need to pass the Wizards in the standings for us to get that pick. The Thunder are scorching hot right now, winners of 8 of their last 10 games, so this likely will happen. But the Sixers could help the cause with a win over the Wiz tonight.

Myself, I'm pulling for the W. We're going to lose plenty more games before this season is over, so lets pile up some victories when we can, especially if they might actually help us.

Game Notes:

  • If you are really in to following all the implications of every game with respect to our potential draft picks, then Derek Bodner's draft tracker is a must follow. He's doing a great job summing up all the in's and out's every night.
  • The Washington Post reports that Bradley Beal is trying to make his return from injury tonight against the Sixers.
  • New Sixer JaVale McGee was actually originally drafted by the Washington Wizards with the 18th overall pick in the 2008 NBA draft. He had debatably his finest season with them in 2010, averaging 10pts, 8rebs, and 2.5 blocks. He also had these 5 absolutely terrible plays.

Projected Lineups:


PG Isaiah Canaan

SG Jason Richardson

SF Robert Covington

PF Luc Mbah a Moute

C Nerlens Noel


PG John Wall

SG Garrett Temple

SF Otto Porter

PF Nene Hilario

C Marcin Gortat

Injuries: Sixers: Joel Embiid (Out, Foot), Tony Wroten (Out, right knee).

Wizards: Bradley Beal (Questionable, leg). Paul Pierce (Questionable, Knee), Kris Humphries (Questionable, Hamstring).

Prediction: I said I'm pulling for the win, but I just don't see it happening with our rotations as out of whack as they are and Bradley Beal coming back from injury. Wiz take it 109-92.

Former Phillies outfielder Juan Pierre retires

Pierre in Spring Training 2013 with the Phillies

Juan Pierre was a member of the Phillies just one year, in 2012.   However, Pierre was a fan favorite, as he hit for a high batting average during his season in Philadelphia.  After sitting out 2014, Pierre has officially retired.

Clark Spencer of reported the move:

Pierre last played for the Marlins in 2013, but had yet to retire.

Pierre is best known for his time with the Florida Marlins, his best season being with the 2003 World Champions.  That season Pierre hit .305 and stole 65 bases.  In that postseason Pierre hit .301 and stole three bases.  Pierre also appeared in the postseason in 2008 and 2009 with the Los Angeles Dodgers

In all Pierre played for the Colorado Rockies, Florida Marlins, Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago White Sox and the Phillies before returning to Miami  to re-join the Marlins for his last major league season.  In 14 seasons, Pierre batted .295.   Perhaps what he was best known for, Pierre compiled 479 stolen bases in the major leagues.

Flashback Friday: Phillies Nearly Signed Ichiro Suzuki for 2013 Season


In 2015, 41-year-old Ichiro Suzuki will be entering his fifteenth season of Major League Baseball and his first with the Miami Marlins, after spending the first nine seasons of his professional career over in the Japan Pacific League.

Suzuki spent his first 11 seasons, and a large part of his 12th, in America with the Seattle Mariners after he was purchased from Japan's Orix BlueWave with a winning bid of $13,125,000 on November 30, 2000. He didn't miss a beat transitioning to Major League Baseball, after successfully reaching base in 41.9% of his 4,098 plate appearances with the BlueWave.

The long-time Mariner managed to earn a spot on the American League All Star team, as well as record over 200 hits, for ten consecutive seasons from his first appearance in baseball in 2000 all the way up to 2010. Additionally, Suzuki set the record in 2004 with the most hits all-time in a single-season with 262.

Being traded to the New York Yankees in the Summer of 2012, Suzuki saw his first postseason action later that year since making it all the way to the 2001 American League Championship Series, 11 seasons prior.

The left-handed hitter has nothing but positive thoughts and gratitude towards his third Major League team and the upcoming season:

"I think what I wanted most was just the warm feelings that the Marlins gave me. Like everybody knows, the people that came over to Japan to the press conference (did so) so it wouldn't be tough on me to have the physical done in Japan. They are accommodating for me in the fact that here in spring training they'll have a facility for me to have my (Pilates) machines here. In Miami, also the same thing. To accommodate the things that are very important to me as a player.

There was nothing that came in my way that I didn't like or would say no to, and that's a big reason why I'm here."

Suzuki was signed to be Miami's fourth outfielder, behind Christian Yelich in left, Marcell Ozuna in center, and phenom slugger Giancarlo Stanton in right, on January 27, 2015. While Ichiro may be disappointed that his career has fallen from once everyday outfielder to the bench, he still remains respectful by accepting whatever role is assigned to him.

"Obviously I understand and will accept that role, but if you look back at last year I was the fifth outfielder. So we'll see how it goes."

In 2013 and 2014 with the Yankees, Suzuki's playing time, and subsequently his offensive numbers, significantly dropped in comparison to year's past. For instance, he only produced 102 hits last season in 2014 under the "fifth outfielder" role, his lowest hit total in a professional season since he only had 12 as a 19-year-old in Japan. Perhaps Ichiro's 2015 season in Miami will continue to follow this trend, unless consistent playing time is somehow allotted his way.

Ichiro Suzuki didn't have to enter a situation of decreased playing time, however. He could have signed with the Phillies for more money and guaranteed playing time, following the expiration of his contract with the Mariners/Yankees at the end of the 2012 season.

According to ESPN's Buster Olney, the Phillies reportedly offered Suzuki a two-year deal worth $14 million, which was turned down when he accepted a $13 million, two-year deal to re-sign with the Yankees.

As Matt Gelb of The Philadelphia Inquirer speculated, the Phillies' 2013 lineup featuring Ichiro may have looked like the following:

1. Ichiro 9
2. Michael Young 5
3. Chase Utley 4
4. Ryan Howard 3
5. Carlos Ruiz 2
6. Jimmy Rollins 6
7. Domonic Brown/Darin Ruf 7
8. Ben Revere 8

The Phillies needed a viable outfield replacement to fill the voids of the departed Juan Pierre, Hunter Pence, and Shane Victorino from the 2012 team. With Suzuki off of the boards, they opted to instead sign the American League Championship Series MVP from the most recent postseason at the time in 2012, Delmon Young

Young was signed exactly 40 days following the Suzuki news on January 22, 2013. However, Young's struggle to field routine plays in the outfield, and his inconsistency on offense, led to his eventual release later that season in mid-August.

Table 1: Ichiro Suzuki's Career Statistics vs. National League East

Atlanta Braves 9 40 36 8 12 0 0 1 1 7 0 4 6 .333 .400 .417 .817 15
Miami Marlins 9 43 41 4 8 0 0 0 2 1 0 1 8 .195 .209 .195 .404 8
New York Mets 13 56 51 7 19 0 0 1 9 3 1 3 6 .373 .400 .431 .831 22
Philadelphia Phillies 9 43 41 7 15 2 0 1 1 2 1 2 4 .366 .395 .488 .883 20
Washington Nationals 15 67 64 6 21 3 1 0 3 3 0 3 6 .328 .358 .406 .764 26

As a member of the Marlins, Ichiro will finally get to play at Citizens Bank Park after all. Believe it or not, Ichiro has not appeared in a non-Exhibition baseball game in Philadelphia since the Vet was in use. In three games at the City of Brotherly Love, Suzuki batted .357 (5 hits in 14 at-bats), with a double and two runs scored. 

Table 2: Ichiro Suzuki's Career Statistics at National League East Stadiums

ATL-Turner Fld 3 15 13 4 3 0 0 0 0 2 0 2 1 .231 .333 .231 .564 3
FLA-Dolphin Stad 3 15 14 2 3 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 3 .214 .267 .214 .481 3
NYM-Shea Stad 6 30 26 4 9 0 0 0 4 3 0 2 4 .346 .379 .346 .725 9
NYM-Citi Field 2 8 7 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 .286 .375 .286 .661 2
PHI-VeteransStad 3 15 14 2 5 1 0 0 0 1 1 1 2 .357 .400 .429 .829 6
WSN-RFK Stad 3 14 14 0 2 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 .143 .143 .143 .286 2
WSN-Natls Park 3 13 13 1 4 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 .308 .308 .308 .615 4

What could have been different for the 2013 Phillies, had Ichiro Suzuki jumped on board alongside future Hall of Famer Michael Young, former National League Most Valuable Players Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins, and even their rotation assets in Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee? Sometimes it's fun to say 'what if?' and speculate, however the reality and what actually occurred cannot ever be changed.

Matt Rappa (@mattrappa) is a contributor to

Postgame Perspective: Good effort, bad loss for Flyers

There are 20 games remaining in the Flyers season starting on Saturday. They sit four points out of a playoff spot. And yet, as Thursday's game came to a close - a 3-2 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs - it felt as if the playoff hopes finally perished.

The Flyers incredibly successful weekend against Nashville and Washington has been sandwiched by five losses to Columbus, Buffalo, Carolina and now Toronto.

In the beginning, it was admirable - the Flyers were consistently gaining points, even if it was in overtime losses to the Blue Jackets or shootout losses to the Sabres.

This loss, the Flyers third in regulation to a clearly inferior team, may be the final straw.

Continue reading "Postgame Perspective: Good effort, bad loss for Flyers" »

Phillies Rank Second! ESPN Uni-Watch Power Rankings

Well, while we all might expect a last place finish for the Phillies in the NL East, at least we can hold our heads high about something. Today, ESPN's Paul Lukas released the MLB Uni-Watch power rankings and the Phillies were slotted at the second spot on the list, two spots higher than last year. They sit behind the Cardinals, who defeated the Phils in the 2011 NLDS. The Cubs, Blue Jays and Dodgers round out the top five.

Here's what Lukas had to say about the red and white pinstripes:

Sometimes you can make progress by standing still. That's the case with the Phillies, who've moved up to the second spot by sticking with the tried-and-true while the teams ranked above them last time around have indulged in ill-advised tinkering. This is how it's done, kids: First-rate home and road unis and a very solid retro alternate. Fun fact: The Phils have never worn the word "Philadelphia" on their jerseys, although they were considering it in the early 1990s.

Meanwhile, you have to scroll down all the way to the 19th position to see the next NL East team, the Mets, who are followed at 20th by the Braves. The Nationals sit at 27th while the Marlins were ranked last. Miami changed their logos in 2012 and ESPN was clearly not impressed by the redesign from Florida's National League team.

Late comeback falls short as Flyers fall to Toronto

The effort was there. The Flyers dictated play for most of the night. Jonathan Bernier played like the number one goaltender the Leafs envisioned him to be. Phil Kessel, Tyler Bozak and Dion Phanuef all scored and the Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 3-2 on Thursday night.

Continue reading "Late comeback falls short as Flyers fall to Toronto" »

Jonathan Papelbon on the Blue Jays: "Yes, Toronto interests me"

Papelbon after closing out 2014's joint no-hitter

The Phillies lost a potential destination for closer Jonathan Papelbon today when the Milwaukee Brewers agreed to terms with Francisco Rodriguez.  In the past, the Toronto Blue Jays and Brewers were the two teams most-closely linked to Papelbon.  With the Brewers no longer in the mix, what about the Blue Jays?

CSN Philly's Jim Salisbury got reaction from Papelbon, asking specifically about Toronto:

Papelbon admitted that the possibility of pitching for Toronto interests him even more than pitching for Milwaukee would have.

“Yes, Toronto, interests me -- if it interests Ruben,” he said. “I know some of the guys on their coaching staff. They’re a good team. If Ruben can do a deal with them, I’d be interested.”

Papelbon is making $13 million this season and has a vesting option for $13 million for 2016. The option kicks in if he finishes 48 games this season. Would he require that option to be guaranteed to accept a deal to Toronto?

“I can’t say,” he said. “I’d have to discuss it with my agent.”

But Papelbon said he would love to make the playoffs in 2015 with the Phillies:

“My storybook ending here is sneaking into the wild card and getting hot in the playoffs with these Phillies.”

The Phillies would have to surprise a lot of people for that to happen.

But before you get too excited, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports seemed to throw water on this hot stove, even before it got hot:

That leaves the market with one free agent closer remaining in Rafael Soriano, and the Blue Jays are the only one with a direct need left.

The Phillies may have to simply sit back and wait to see if another team's closer implodes or gets injured.  Perhaps a repeat of Joe Nathan's 2014 would cause the Tigers to finally make an additional move to improve the team.  If the Dodgers find that Kenley Jansen will not recover as fast as they currently think, they'll be more likely to make a move.   Finally, if Papelbon himself falters or gets injured, 2014 will be it for Papelbon, the Phillies, and his contract.

Timonen: 'I'm good to go' for Saturday


Photo courtesy of Amy Irvin/38Photography

It sounds like veteran defenseman Kimmo Timonen will be making his return to the lineup this weekend.

Timonen ruled himself out for the Flyers two road games this week, the 4-1 loss in Carolina on Tuesday and tonight's game against Toronto. He would not close the door on a Saturday return until after taking skates with the team during the team.

"If they want me to play Saturday," Timonen said, "I'm good to go."

Continue reading "Timonen: 'I'm good to go' for Saturday" »