Placido Polanco returns to the lineup, and Roy Halladay (3-0, 0.48 ERA) pitches his last game before Opening Day, when the the Phillies play their final road game of spring today at 1:05 against the Braves.
Polanco, who was reevaluated by team physician Michael Ciccotti yesteday after feeling some lingering discomfort in his left elbow, leads off and plays third today. The soreness he's experiencing is reportedly unrelated to offseason surgery and it looks as if he will be good to go for Opening Day. Still, one wonders if the 35-year-old can handle the 162-game grind at this stage. Polanco will be followed in today's lineup by Luis Castillo 2B, Raul Ibanez LF, Ryan Howard 1B, Shane Victorino CF, Ben Francisco RF, Carlos Ruiz C, Wilson Valdez SS, Roy Halladay P.
Blue Jays 7, Phillies 6: Some observations from yesterday's split squad main attraction. Kyle Kendrick was rubbish. He was leaving everything out over the plate and the Jays didn't miss. All five of Kendrick's hits allowed went for doubles. … I couldn't be less impressed with the fact that Castillo can draw walks in spring training. My lasting impression from yesterday was the booted a relatively easy grounder. The second baseman has reached base in six of his last nine plate appearances after yesterday's 2-for-4 with a walk and I think it's a safe bet to assume he'll head north when camp breaks. Still, I could take him or leave him and wonder what will happen when good pitchers challenge him when the games begin for real.
Guys I'm excited about: Jimmy Rollins, Carlos Ruiz, Ben Francisco, Ross Gload. Chooch belted a hanging slider for a two-run jack yesterday, and Rollins just looks like he's ready to go; he's clearly in much better shape physically. He's going to hit third, which means he's the key to this. Meanwhile, Francisco has done all they've hoped this spring and it's time to see what he's got. A platoon with Gload could be productive.
Ex-Phillies on the AL fringe: Endy Chavez, Rangers—Relatively quiet offensively this spring, the slick defender was recently reassigned to Triple-A to start the season. Kyle Drabek, Blue Jays—The former Phils prospect will be part of his team’s rotation. Carlos Carrasco, Indians—Carrasco has made the Tribe's rotation. Pedro Feliz, Royals—He has an out-clause in his contract that he must exercise by Monday. His choices most likely are to accept a minor league assignment or exercise the clause to become a free agent. He's hitting .105 for the Royals. Freddy Garcia, Yankees—With a 5.93 ERA this spring, the former Phillies bust has won a job in the Yankees rotation, beating out Bartolo Colon. Greg Golson, Yankees—The speedy outfielder was sent to minor league camp Wednesday, though he could return if Curtis Granderson isn’t healthy by opening day. Michael Taylor, Athletics—A 7-for-40 (.175) performance this spring, not to mention 11 K’s against 1 BB, resulted in a an option back to Triple-A Sacramento for a second-straight season, where he joins former prospects Adrian Cardenas and Josh Outman. - Drew Silverman
Speed a hidden concern: It will be interesting to see how the absence of Davey Lopes affects the Phillies’ running game. As a team, the Phils are 21 of 29 stealing bases this spring. It’s fair to assume their SB percentage will decline this season with Chase Utley battling injuries, Rollins battling age, and Jayson Werth battling his bloated new bank account in Washington. The key on the base paths might be the contributions of Francisco and John Mayberry Jr. (combined 6 of 7 in steal attempts this spring). - Drew Silverman