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SPORTS
April 9, 2015 | By Matt Breen, Inquirer Staff Writer
READING - A piece of paper stapled to the bulletin board inside the Phillies' spring training complex told the five pitchers that Reading would be their post-Florida destination. Jesse Biddle, Aaron Nola, Zach Eflin, Tom Windle, and Ben Lively are the team's top five pitching prospects. They arrived this week in "Baseballtown" to assemble what is expected to be one of the top rotations in all of double A. The pitchers were grouped together throughout spring training, leading them to believe they would start the season as teammates.
SPORTS
April 8, 2015 | By Matt Breen, Inquirer Staff Writer
The Phillies boarded a plane for Philadelphia last Thursday. They had scored three or fewer runs in 17 of their 31 spring-training games. Perhaps their offensive struggles would be left behind. Those thoughts were quickly dispelled Monday with a listless 8-0 loss to Boston on opening day. The Phillies mustered just three hits, tied for their all-time lowest opening-day output. It was their first scoreless season opener since 1998. The team's first three batters - Ben Revere, Odubel Herrera, and Chase Utley - combined to go 0 for 12 with four strikeouts.
SPORTS
April 8, 2015 | By Sam Donnellon, Daily News Columnist
A YEAR AGO, Mookie Betts was preparing for his season as a Double A infielder in Portland, Maine. Yesterday, he hit a third-inning home run against Cole Hamels and ran down the few balls hit to him in centerfield. You want to know why the vibe is so different for the Boston Red Sox after a season in which they managed to lose even more games than the Phillies, Mookie is as good a place to start as any. Only 22, Betts was the leadoff hitter in Boston's free-agent-infused Opening Day lineup yesterday, a lineup that has added Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval to central figures Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz, a lineup that, yesterday at least, included a healthy and mobile Shane Victorino.
SPORTS
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.
SPORTS
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.
SPORTS
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 | 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 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.
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