Spring training is finally upon us, and you know what that means: nothing. Not trying to curb your enthusiasm, but there’s not much to be gleaned from spring training performances. Still, it’s baseball and we’ve been without it for far too long — four months, not that I’ve been counting.
The Phillies hosted the New York Yankees this afternoon at Bright House Networks Field in Clearwater, Florida in the official spring training opener, a rematch of the 2009 World Series. It was sunny, about 50 degrees, and a 20 MPH wind persistently pushed balls in and towards right field.
C.C. Sabathia got the start for the Yankees and Roy Halladay took the bump for the Phillies. As a result of the starters, the Phillies rested lefties Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, and Raul Ibanez while the Yankees gave right-handers Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez the day off.
Halladay was flawless, pitching two perfect innings and faced one batter over the minimum as a result of an errant throw to first base by Placido Polanco. The Phillies’ new ace came out throwing strikes, as he struck out three and had his sinker in top form against the Yankees.
Kyle Kendrick followed Halladay with nearly as effective an outing, pitching two scoreless innings while only allowing one base runner and striking out one. His sinker, like Halladay’s, was doing its job. Kendrick has become Halladay’s apprentice this spring training. In an interview with broadcasters Tom McCarthy and Gary Matthews, Kyle said he’s been striving to improve his change-up and cut fastball to supplement his two-seam fastball and there’s no better right-hander in the league to ask about two-seamers and cutters than Roy Halladay.
Jose Contreras took over in the fifth inning. He didn’t look as sharp as his predecessors Halladay and Kendrick, but he had good command of his curve ball and used it to notch three strikeouts in two innings of work. He did allow two hits but otherwise held the Yankees in check.
Andrew Carpenter got his two innings of work in the seventh and eighth innings. He worked the outside corner successfully to punch out two batters and allowed only one hit.
Sergio Escalona took the hill in the ninth with the Phillies staked to a 1-0 lead, but a couple of seeing-eye singles, a hard-hit single up the middle, and a high-chopper down the first base line with incredible spin allowed the Yankees to take the lead with two runs in the ninth. Escalona’s line looks bad — four hits and two runs in an inning of work — but he did not pitch poorly.
Overall, Phillies pitchers allowed two runs on eight hits in nine innings of work, but they struck out ten, did not walk a batter, and did not allow an extra-base hit.
Some other observations from today’s spring training game:
- Placido Polanco looked uncomfortable defensively at third base, but he still has a month to learn the ropes.
- Loved seeing Jayson Werth work the count several times today. He drew two walks and worked a full count in his final at-bat (I think, correct me if I am wrong; MLB Gameday isn’t up so I can’t verify this).
- Brian Bocock took some good cuts in his four at-bats. He had two hits and drove the ball up the middle consistently.
- Freddy Galvis came in to play second base late in the game and immediately had to field a grounder to his left and make a quick throw to first base to get the out, which he did with relative ease. If he can find a way to improve his bat, I’d love to see what he can accomplish at the Major League level.
- Andrew Carpenter, despite allowing only one base runner in his two innings, was hit hard as he missed his spot on several occasions. First day of spring training, though, so nobody — besides Roy Halladay — is going to be perfect.
- Domonic Brown’s swing looks, at least to the naked eye, to be very similar to that of Raul Ibanez. I wonder if he’s talked with Raul at all, or if that’s just a coincidence.
- Quintin Berry took a gamble when he scored from first on a game-tying RBI double by Paul Hoover in the ninth inning. It’s spring training, so why not gamble? However, I wasn’t able to see if the third base coach put up the stop sign and Berry ran through it, or if he was given the green light. There was only one out so I’d think that Berry would have been asked to stop at third base, but again — spring training, so you never know.
Finally, per Todd Zolecki:
The Phillies will visit to the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday at 1:05 p.m. in Dunedin, Fla, with left-hander Cole Hamels making his Grapefruit League debut. The two clubs will also play a “B” game at 10 a.m. at Bright House Field. Left-hander Jamie Moyer will start that game for the Phillies.
Image courtesy Yahoo! Sports / Al Messerschmidt, Getty Images (Link)