James Russell makes 1st spring start as Phillies host Tigers

 By: Kevin Durso, editorial assistant 

CLEARWATER, Fla. — The Phillies (14-7-3) have been near the top of the Grapefruit League standings for much of the spring, stringing together a solid month.

Much of that success has been led by Maikel Franco, who continued his torrid spring with his eighth home run on Friday night. Franco gets the day off on Saturday, but the rest of the Phillies get to continue preparations for the upcoming season.

The Phillies have just three games left in Clearwater and five left in Florida before making the trek back up the coast for the start of the season. They take on another of the Grapefruit League's top teams on Saturday afternoon, hosting the Detroit Tigers (14-9-1).

Starting Pitching Matchup:

Detroit Tigers (14-9-1) Philadelphia Phillies (14-7-3)
RHP Justin Verlander LHP James Russell
(2-0, 1.93 ERA) (0-0, 2.08 ERA)

James Russell makes his first start of the spring after appearing in five games as a relief pitcher. He has allowed one run on three hits in 4 1/3 innings in those five appearances. Russell's most recent appearance came in Friday night's tie with Toronto, where he retired the only batter he faced with a three-pitch strikeout.

Justin Verlander takes the ball for the Tigers and makes his fifth start of the spring. Verlander allowed his first runs of the spring in his last start against Washington, surrendering three runs on six hits in five innings. He gave up two home runs in the start and hit a batter. He did not walk a batter and struck out two. The five-inning start was Verlander's longest of the spring, and he figured to be stretched out even further. Each of his previous four starts have been one inning longer than the previous start.

Starting Lineups:

Detroit Tigers (14-9-1) Philadelphia Phillies (14-7-3)
  Position Player Bats   Position Player Bats
1 CF Wynton Bernard R 1 SS Freddy Galvis S
2 SS Jose Iglesias R 2 2B Andres Blanco S
3 LF Justin Upton R 3 CF Odubel Herrera L
4 RF Tyler Collins L 4 1B Ryan Howard L
5 C Jarrod Saltalamacchia S 5 C Cameron Rupp R
6 3B Nick Castellanos R 6 RF Cedric Hunter L
7 1B John Mayberry Jr. R 7 LF Tyler Goeddel R
8 2B Mike Aviles R 8 3B Ryan Jackson R
9 P Justin Verlander R 9 P James Russell L

Broadcast Information:

  • First Pitch: 1:05 p.m.
  • TV: CSN
  • Radio: 94 WIP

Game Notes:

  • James Russell was signed as a minor-league free agent in November.
  • Cameron Rupp makes his first appearance in three games. Odubel Herrera will also start in his second game back from injury.
  • Aaron Nola pitched in a minor-league game this morning. His next and final appearance of the spring will come in Reading when the Phillies play the Phillies Futures team on Thursday.

What's Next:

  • Sunday, March 27, 2016: at Boston Red Sox, 1:05 p.m.
    • Ft. Myers, Fla. - JetBlue Park  
    • RHP Jerad Eickhoff (0-0, 6.75 ERA) vs. RHP Steven Wright (0-2, 3.07 ERA)
    • TV: MLB.TV; Radio: 94 WIP