Baseball deprivation hits hard, as a bubble of Arctic air seeps into the Atlantic Coast like a ruptured spleen. Fortunately, the Phillies caravan swings into Reading tomorrow with a nice, warm intravenous drip of optimism.
Otherwise, fans would be forced to ride the Chase Utley wave until Feb. 14 when pitchers and catchers report, a time when hundreds of retirees shed their winter hangovers by watching Jon Lieber do lunges.
Speaking of fingers (not that anyone was, except for anyone who’s reported on Antonio Alfonseca the last 24 hours) the 12-fingered reliever passed his physical and agreed to a one-year, incentive-laden deal, with $400,000 guaranteed, nearly $34,000 per finger. News of the finalized contract prompted Leslie Gudel of Comcast Sportsnet to quip "The Phillies may have found their setup man in Antonio Alfonseca!" Hey! How 'bout that!
Yesterday, Jimmy Rollins, Aaron Rowand, Charlie Manuel and others gave the Philadelphia press corps an overdose of hope. Rollins went on a prime-time bender about how the Phillies should be considered favorites to win the NL East, and how he likes the pitching staff, and then this crazy rant about how he remodeled his basement and turned it into a workout room - and get this - is actually using it. Enough with the sunshine, J-Roll. If you want to talk baseball in January, I suggest you take your cues from a more grounded source, like our very own comment thread. Current topic: Which depression-era uniform readers like best.
Tomorrow, the public relations zeppelin circles southeastern Pennsylvania, giving its mostly Californian cargo an aerial tour of such landmarks as Limerick Power Plant and Zern’s Farmers Market. Yesterday, Cole Hamels spoke with dusty reporters about his blossoming career. The 23-year-old left-hander and recent newlywed reportedly spent the offseason in Philadelphia to "experience the Philadelphia experience," which is to say, "experience Philadelphia’s weird obsession with its football team." Hamels was later seen, along with bespeckled handler Scott Palmer, at the Sixers/Hornets game for "Phillies Night at the Sixers." The Sixers won 102-96, with Ryan Howard scoring a game-high 31.