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Phillies set to face Tampa Spartans in 2018 exhibition opener

Spectrum Field will open its doors for its 15th season of Philadelphia Phillies spring training baseball on Thursday. (Matt Rappa/Sports Talk Philly)

By Matt Rappa, Sports Talk Philly editor

CLEARWATER, Fla. — For the first time under rookie manager Gabe Kapler, the 2018 Philadelphia Phillies will take the field as they oppose the University of Tampa Spartans Thursday afternoon at Spectrum Field.

The exhibition game will be the fourth meeting between the two clubs since 2015. The Phillies fell 6-2 to the Spartans in 2015, but rebounded with 8-3 and 6-0 victories in each of their last two annual contests. The Spartans are 7-2 thus far in their collegiate season and currently rank 17th in the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association poll for NCAA Division II with 164 points.

The Phillies could use "as many as nine pitchers" against the Spartans, according to NBC Sports Philadelphia's Jim Salisbury. The first to appear will be starting right-handed pitcher Jerad Eickhoff, who looks to rebound after a setback 2017 season. Eickhoff started last year 0-7 with a 4.93 ERA after his first 14 starts, but improved over his final 10 outings, going 4-1 with a 4.38 ERA. Eickhoff was diagnosed with nerve irritation in his right hand after leaving his start early on August 30 against the Atlanta Braves. He did not return, as the club transferred him to the 60-day disabled list on Sept. 2.

The Phillies' exhibition-opener lineup will feature four non-roster invitees — No. 35-ranked MLB prospect second baseman Scott Kingery, third baseman Adam Rosales, designated hitter Logan Moore and center fielder Danny Ortiz. In last season's exhibition opener against the University of Tampa, Kingery, shortstop J.P. Crawford and first baseman Rhys Hoskins were among the club's five non-roster invitees featured in the starting lineup. Crawford and Hoskins now appear to be the Phillies' Opening Day starter at shortstop and left field, respectively. Kingery will likely begin the season at Triple-A Lehigh Valley, with second baseman Cesar Hernandez set to return for his sixth season.

Opening Day is exactly five weeks away, as the Phillies will begin the season Thursday, March 29, away against the Braves.

Starting Pitching Matchup:

University of Tampa Spartans Philadelphia Phillies
RHP Cheyne Bickel RHP Jerad Eickhoff
(0-1, 4.50 ERA) (2017: 4-8, 4.71 ERA)

Starting Lineups:

University of Tampa Spartans Philadelphia Phillies
  Position Player Bats   Position Player Bats
1 LF Stephen Smith L 1 C Andrew Knapp S
2 2B Drew Ehrhard R 2 SS J.P. Crawford L
3 3B Darren Miller R 3 1B Tommy Joseph R
4 DH Danny Sirven R 4 LF Nick Williams L
5 1B Harrison Bragg R 5 2B Scott Kingery* R
6 RF Connor Crile L 6 3B Adam Rosales* R
7 C Chris Gaffney R 7 RF Dylan Cozens L
8 CF Nick DeTringo R 8 DH Logan Moore* L
9 SS Brandon Gali R 9 CF Danny Ortiz* L

* indicates non-roster invitee

Broadcast Information:

  • First pitch: 1:05 p.m.
  • Watch: Video webcast
  • TV: N/A, Radio: N/A

What's Next:

  • Friday, Feb. 23, 2018: at Toronto Blue Jays, 1:07 p.m.
    • Dunedin Stadium, Dunedin, Fla.
    • RHP Nick Pivetta (2017: 8-10, 6.02 ERA) vs. RHP Joe Biagini (2017: 3-13, 5.34 ERA)
    • TV: N/A; Radio: SportsRadio 94 WIP

The Phillies and Blue Jays will wear Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School hats to support victims of the recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida. Players will sign the hats after the game, to then be auctioned off. All proceeds raised will benefit the Broward Education Foundation and the Stoneman Douglas Victims’ Fund.


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