This past week has marked the annual ritual reporting of pitchers and catchers as the other players report and the teams prepare for the exhibition schedule and the season ahead.
For the Phillies, players such as highly-heralded starter Roy Halladay and new 3rd baseman Placido Polanco have arrived early, with Halladay seemingly anxious to show why he’s considered MLB’s best and Polanco working to re-acclimate himself to the 3rd base position after being primarily a 2nd baseman for a number of seasons.
Erstwhile closer Brad Lidge is also hard at work, having thrown off of a mound 2 days for the first time since off-season surgery. He reportedly felt okay and felt no ill-effects. He’s hoping to return much closer to 2008 form and would just as soon forget about his disastrous 2009.
What about starter Cole Hamels who sizzled in 2007 and 2008 winning an All Star berth and the 2008 World Series MVP award before fizzling out amidst fits of temper in 2009? Will 2010 see him develop more dimensions than 2 pitches? Maybe a cutter or a slider? Will he fulfill his potential and make the Phillies’ #1 and #2 starters the most fearsome one-two pitching punch in MLB, despite the trading away of Cliff Lee?
What about 1st baseman Ryan Howard, the $15 Million man? Will he develop the hitting nack against lefthanders and severely cut down his
strikeouts from nearly 200 per season, becoming a complete player in the process??
Will rightfielder Jayson Werth build on his 2009 career season? Will leftfielder Raul Ibanez knock down fences offensively again in 2010 as he did in the first half of 2009? And will Jimmy Rollins regain form after an abysmal first half of 2009.
Hopefully, these and other questions will begin to be answered as spring training evolves into the exhibition schedule and the Phils work towards a 3-peat — to become the first NL team make the World Series in 3 consecutive seasons since the 1942-44 St. Louis Cardinals.