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April 7, 2015 | By Jake Kaplan, Inquirer Staff Writer
Five third basemen were needed to fill out the final 116 games of the 1989 Phillies season. Mike Schmidt retired in late May from the spot he occupied for 17 years, leaving a glaring void on the hot corner. In a similar vein, another long accounted-for Phillies position was vacated in December. On Monday, for the first time since 2000, the team's opening-day shortstop will not be named James Calvin Rollins. After Rollins waived his no-trade rights to play for a contender, the Phillies did not acquire a shortstop to take his place.
SPORTS
April 7, 2015
The Phillies will carry two utility infielders and only four true outfielders to begin the season. Cesar Hernandez, who is out of minor-league options, and versatile veteran Andres Blanco made the team Sunday as bench players, as did rightfielder Jeff Francoeur. Centerfielder Odubel Herrera and leftfielder Ben Revere are expected to start Monday against the Red Sox. Grady Sizemore will likely play right field while Domonic Brown rehabs from Achilles tendinitis. Darin Ruf made the roster as an infielder but can play left field in addition to first base.
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April 6, 2015 | By Jake Kaplan, Inquirer Staff Writer
CLEARWATER, Fla. - When Ryan Howard blooped a single to center field in the final inning of another lost Phillies season late in September, the notion existed that it may have been his final at-bat with the team. But six months later, after a winter in which the club's front office failed to find a taker for the aging slugger and a fraction of the $60 million left on his contract, Howard will find himself back at first base at Citizens Bank Park on Monday afternoon. This season, the first of the Phillies' daunting rebuild, will differ from its immediate predecessors, but not in terms of who bats cleanup.
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April 5, 2015 | BY SHAMUS CLANCY, Daily News Staff Writer clancys@phillynews.com
In his first appearance at Citizens Bank Park as a Phillie, Aaron Harang's debut got off to a rocky start upon Harang's first pitch at 7:07 p.m. Three batters and 3 minutes later, the Phils were in the hole 2-0 after a double from the Pirates' Gregor Polanco and a single from reigning NL MVP Andrew McCutchen put the Bucs in the lead.  "I definitely had to make some adjustments, getting used to the mound at the end," Harang said. "I really had to work to find my release point and get everything go. " The Phillies ultimately survived and pulled off a 7-5 comeback win, but Harang surrendered four earned runs in 4-2/3 innings, giving the team's offense great incentive to get their bats going.
SPORTS
April 4, 2015 | Jake Kaplan, Inquirer Staff Writer
Cole Hamels is used to all the attention - from Phillies fans. But every fifth game this season, continuing likely for the next three-plus months, the Phillies ace will take the mound with eyes on him from all over Major League Baseball. For five of his spring training starts, scouts squeezed into the seventh and eighth rows of Section 111 at Bright House Field in Clearwater, Fla. For the other, they watched at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium in Dunedin. This will be customary in big-league ballparks throughout April, May, June and July, or as long as the rebuilding Phillies hold on to their ace. The Phillies' handling of Hamels, by far their biggest trade chip, should be telling in the progress of the team's rebuilding.
SPORTS
April 4, 2015 | By Jake Kaplan, Inquirer Staff Writer
The Phillies will struggle to score runs this season. Not even the general manager, Ruben Amaro Jr., has disputed that fact. Baseball Prospectus projects the team's worst offensive output in four decades. So it made plenty of sense that for his second spring as Phillies manager, Ryne Sandberg preached situational hitting to those in Camp Clearwater. Home runs figure to be scarce, so finding other ways to move runners is necessary. Sandberg seeks more productive at-bats. Expect plenty of bunts, more hit-and-runs, and more movement on the basepaths in general for Year 2 of Sandberg's major-league managerial tenure.
SPORTS
April 4, 2015 | By Mike Sielski, Inquirer Columnist
Back there, behind a heavy metal door that separated them from the home clubhouse at Bright House Field in Clearwater, Fla., under a ceiling that blocked the west Florida sun and kept the whole area as cool and comfortable as a McMansion's living room, in front of a blue park bench where Chase Utley sat and gulped down the last mushy bite of a banana, were two batting cages. This has been Utley's sanctuary, maybe his last one. He spends more time in the trainer's room than he ever has before, and no wonder.
SPORTS
April 4, 2015 | By Matt Breen, Inquirer Staff Writer
CLEARWATER, Fla. - Cody Asche first heard of Mike Schmidt in the summer of 2000, when Mark McGwire passed the former Phillies third baseman on the all-time home run list. Asche was a 10-year-old Cardinals fan, who grew up 30 miles northwest of St. Louis. Schmidt was just another Hall of Fame name on a list full of them. This spring, Asche built a relationship with that name. The team's third baseman worked in Schmidt's hitting group throughout spring training. In a new initiative rolled out by manager Ryne Sandberg, each player was assigned a personal hitting coach.
SPORTS
April 3, 2015
CLEARWATER, Fla. - The sensation in Ken Giles' back was described to Ruben Amaro Jr. as milder than the ailment that slowed third baseman Cody Asche for four days. The Phillies general manager does not anticipate a stint on the disabled list for the team's promising setup man. "We wouldn't risk it if we think it's a risk," Amaro said. Giles exited his outing Tuesday after facing two batters. The 24-year-old downplayed the injury afterward, calling it "just tightness. " Wednesday, Amaro called it a mild mid-back strain.
SPORTS
April 3, 2015 | BY RYAN LAWRENCE, Daily News Staff Writer rlawrence@phillynews.com
CLEARWATER, Fla. - The final week of spring training began with manager Ryne Sandberg using the word "unacceptable" in between two games when the Phillies gave up a combined 28 runs. It came to an end yesterday with Odubel Herrera wearing a customized Hooters sleeveless T-shirt during batting practice, with his name and number scrolled on it in ink, and Jonathan Papelbon taking the mound in the ninth inning wearing a Carlos Ruiz jersey at Bright House Field. Camp Clearwater officially broke after the Phillies 10-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays.
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