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Phillies in Early Spring: Some Early Signs

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          Jamie Moyer     Pedro Feliz      Kyle Kendrick

In the early going of the 2008 spring exhibition season, the Phillies have shown some good signs, although predictable. And there some other signs, also predictable but not very good.

3d baseman Pedro Feliz and utility infielder Eric Bruntlett got 2 hits each,  Greg Dobbs clubbed a 3 run homer and Ryan Howard pounded a solid double as veteran lefthander Jamie Moyer started and tossed 3 scoreless innings and was augmented by Ryan Madson and two young prospect relievers who tossed scoreless innings. Cincinnati’s one run scored on a solo blast given up by reliever Clay Condrey as the Phils pounded the Reds by an 8-1 score in last Wednesday’s exhibition season opening game.

In Thursday’s game, young Kyle Kendrick started and gave up 3 hits, a single run on a solo homer, in 3 innings of work while Ryan Howard hit his first homer of the spring — a titanic 3 run blast as the Phils and the  Pittsburgh Pirates traded 5 run innings.  The Pirates came out on top in this one as they routed two other young prospect relievers for 9 runs enroute to thumping the Phils by an 11-6 score.

On Friday, Howard was held hitless and J.D. Durbin was roughed up giving up 2 runs on 5 hits in 2 innings of work.  While the Pirates got off to a 4-2 lead after 5 innings, scoring 2 more runs on 1 hit and 4 walks given up by reliever Shane Youman, the Phils came from behind to win the game by scoring single runs in the 3rd, 5th, 7th, 8th and 9th innings.  Relievers J.A. Happ, Joe Bisenius and prospect Gary Knotts tossed 2 scoreless innings apiece with Knotts credited with the win in the 5-4 game.   Young catching prospect Casey Smith had a huge spring training debut hitting a tiebreaking, solo home run with two outs in the Phillies ninth in addition to two doubles, including an RBI drive in the seventh.

The Phils got a bonus on Friday, also winning the 7 inning “B” game by a 4-3 score as Brett Myers, projected opening day starter, pitched 3 innings, giving 1 run on five hits, striking out three with no walks.

In Saturday’s game, the Yankees blugeoned Adam Eaton for 3 runs out the box in the first inning.  The Yanks, getting 4 homers for the game, scored 2 more in the 3rd and 1 in the 5th inning as well as 1 more in the 8th and 2 more in the 9th to win by a 9-3 score.  Reliever Clay Condrey coughed up another solo homer in relieving Eaton, this one to Yankees 3rd baseman Alex Rodriguez.  Reliever Tom Gordon coughed up a solo homer  in the 8th inning, his first exhibition inning of work

What emerges early, of course subject to change as the exhibition season progresses, is that as expected, Myers, Kendrick and Moyer look solid.  However Adam Eaton, true to last season’s form, took a pounding by the Yankees right from jumpstreet.  And J.D. Durbin was nothing to write home about either.  Hopefull, Chad Durbin (any familial relationship?) will give a better accounting.

We haven’t seen Cole Hamels or Kris Benson yet, nor have we seen last season’s hot set-up man J.C. Romero.  And I’m looking forward to catching a glimpse of young Scott Mathieson after a season off due to Tommy John surgery. Madson looked impressive in his one outing.  Ryan Howard is off to a far better start than last season, Feliz is a definite plus at 3rd base and young catcher Smith might just give Carlos Ruiz and Chris Coste a run for their money. 

Meantime, in Mets’ training camp, heralded ace Johan Santana got pounded in his first spring training appearance against the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday.  Santana got pounded for 3 runs on 4 hits out of the box in the first inning.  Designated hitter Juan Gonzalez did the bulk of the scoring damage taking Santana ballpark with a 3 run shot.  Santana lasted only two innings.

On Sunday, the Phillies again play the Yankees followed by the Pirates on Monday.     

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