According to the AP, manager Bobby Cox is aligning his spring rotation to make sure his 39-year-old ace takes the mound when the Phillies host the Braves April 2.
If fans are hoping Pat Burrell will silence skeptics by making an immediate splash opening day, they may be in for a long afternoon. Burrell is 1-for-23 lifetime off Smolz. Maybe Karim Garcia or Chris Coste should get the start in left. After all, Garcia is 1-for-3 with a homer off the Braves’ right-hander, and Coste shocked everyone when he put a charge into a hanging Smoltz fastball last season.
Meanwhile, Mike Hampton discouraged by discomfort
Braves left-hander Mike Hampton, who missed the entire 2006 season recovering from ligament transplant surgery, told the Atlanta Journal Constitution he still isn't where he wants to be after having discomfort in a recent batting practice session. Hampton reportedly hadn't thrown a breaking pitch since fall. Mananger Bobby Cox, who's more optimistic in the story, expects five innings from Hampton when the season opens.
Jim Jackson joining broadcast team
After broadcasting Flyers games for 14 years, Jim Jackson should have an easy transition pronouncing names like Greg Dobbs, Ryan Howard and Wes Helms instead Dmitry Afanasenkov, Antero Niittymaki and Lasse Kukkonen.
Jackson, 43, will host the pre-game and post-game shows, a role handled last year by Scott Franzke, who will be doing play-by-play exclusively this year. Jackson once called games for the Trenton Thunder (Double-A, Yankees), and does a nice job calling the Flyers.
Foam head update
Daniel McQuade from Philadelphia Weekly takes a look at the latest in bizarre Phillies merchandise, including a terrifying replica of the Phanatic's head and a "non-violent" Phillies-themed memory game, which can only mean one thing: Ugueth Urbina is not included in the game.