The Phillies offense continues to come into it’s own taking batting practice on their Grapefruit League opponents while winning 7 of their last 8 games and racking up a 13-7 mark thus far in exhibition play. The performance of the starting rotation has been mixed with lefthander Cliff Lee having been pounded in three innings of work on Thursday as was Kyle Kendrick (5 runs, 5 hits, 3 homers) on Saturday. For Kendrick, it was his first spring training start since having being slotted to the bullpen for 2011. Lefthander Cole Hamels suffered a similar pounding — 2 runs in the second inning, 3 in the fourth, giving up 3 HRs in 3 2/3 innings. And Joe Blanton got off to a rough first inning start on Tuesday giving up 2 runs on a homer, but settled down to pitch three more solid shutout innings. As written previously on this blog, better that starters get bad outings out of their systems during exhibition games than in the regular season.
The bullpen has been a mixed bag as well, although the offense continues to produce enough big innings and runs for the Phils to keep winning.
But injuries to major components of the team keep mounting. This blog has discussed here and here the injuries to top outfielder prospect Domonic Brown and to 2nd baseman Chase Utley. But now, add closer Brad Lidge and 3rd baseman Placido Polanco to the list. In one of Saturday’s split squad games, Lidge was battered for 2 runs on 3 hits in a walk in an inning of work. On Monday, it was reported that Lidge was scratched from that day’s game:
…because of tendinitis in his right biceps. Pitching coach Rich Dubee said that while Lidge typically has soreness during the spring, Phillies management would err on the side of caution.
Lidge seems to think little of the tendinitis — that he’s had it before, but the club seems to be taking it more seriously.
Polanco appears to have hyperextended his elbow in his only AB in Monday’s game. Manager Manuel pulled him after the AB as a precaution as the third baseman had elbow surgery this past off-season. Polanco claims being day-to-day with the injury and told the media:
“It’s right where I had the surgery, but it’s nothing bad. I’ve had it before. I’ve had it a million times. But the fact that I had surgery in that elbow, we’re being very safe. We’re going to play it safe and see how it feels tomorrow and then the next day, a day at a time.”
However, PhilliesNation comments:
The Phils third baseman seems genuine about the injury, although the Phillies PR team whistled a different tune before Polanco spoke. They said it had nothing to do with the area that was surgically repaired in the offseason, but after exiting, Polanco said it was the same spot. Who is telling the truth?
From having blogged the Phils for the past 5 years, Polanco’s “day-to-day” could be but a short hop from the DL, but we shall see.
Meanwhile, both remaining outfield hopefuls Ben Francisco and John Mayberry Jr. continue blistering the ball in exhibition play thus far. Mayberry Jr. has 4 homers while Francisco has 3 thus far in exhibition play.
On Tuesday, apparently in fear for his leftfield position, Raul Ibanez opened up going 2 for 3 with a homer.
And utilitiy infielder Wilson Valdez continues his surprising spring by ripping the ball as well, including a 3 run double down the line in leftfield amidst a 5 run eighth inning flurry on Tuesday.
Below are the boxscores and recaps on recent games:
The Phils have an off-day on Wednesday before playing Toronto and Pittsburgh on Thursday and Friday respectively in Clearwater, travelling to play Baltimore on Saturday and returning to Clearwater to take on the Yankees and Boston on Sunday and