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Phillies' Hellickson says he would 'love' to start on Opening Day

If Philadelphia Phillies' manager Pete Mackanin was looking for the Phillies' spring exhibition against the University of Tampa to begin to give him any level of clarity on who should be the team's Opening Day starting pitcher, he didn't get it.

Jeremy Hellickson and Aaron Nola threw back-to-back scoreless innings to start Sunday's eventual win, with perhaps the only thing setting them apart being that Nola struck a batter out and Hellickson didn't.

After the game, Hellickson spoke to MLB.com's Todd Zolecki about the story-line of which of the two will be the team's Opening Day starter, and suggested that while he does hope to get the ball when the Phillies take on the Cincinnati Reds on April 4th, he knows that being the team's No. 2 starter wouldn't be any sort of punishment.

"Yeah, I'd absolutely love the honor, but it doesn't matter one bit," Hellickson said about pitching Opening Day. "We're going to need all five guys to pitch how we're capable of pitching. I don't really think it matters who starts it off, but at the same time, it's a goal and it'd be fun."

As Zolecki noted in his piece, the Phillies will be on the road to start the season. He says that the way the schedule is lined up now, whichever starter doesn't pitch on Opening Day will pitch in the Phillies' home-opener.

For his part, Aaron Nola told Philly Voice's Ryan Lawrence prior to Spring Training that while he wanted to start on Opening Day, that honor isn't always bestowed upon 22-year-olds.

The Phillies will play their first official Spring Training game tomorrow against the Toronto Blue Jays. Over the course of the next three weeks, the Phillies will play over 20 Spring Training games, so there will be more than enough time to sort out the order of the starting rotation. And if the two continue to both impress in Spring Training, having two hot pitchers at the top of the rotation to start the season would be a nice problem to have.

Tim Kelly (@TimKellySports) is the Managing Editor of Philliedelphia.com, focusing on news and features.

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