The Phillies can’t control the Chase Utley and Ryan Howard situations and need to move forward and prepare the players who will open the season as starters.
Tuesday is “Clout Day” on Beerleaguer, an arbitrarily assigned date marking the approximate time in which the exhibition schedule switches from “practice mode” to a fair representation of what one can expect when the regular season opens April 5. As of March 20, observations and lineup configurations count, and to a certain extent, so does performance. We’re hoping for some clarity on the Utley situation this week. Can Howard take a step foward in his recovery? Roy Halladay, who hasn’t been himself in three starts, takes another turn. That's another headache the Phillies don't need.
Meanwhile, there’s been an untold story this spring: many of the remaining regulars have been solid. Jimmy Rollins turned on a Brandon Morrow fastball Saturday and took it downtown for his second tater of spring. Placido Polanco, until leaving with a jammed ring finger, resembled the high-average hitter of early last season. Carlos Ruiz looks good, while offensive anchors Hunter Pence and Shane Victorino appear to be in terrific shape. John Mayberry Jr. has played a ton, but hasn’t produced much offensively as the focus has been tightening the screws defensively at a number of positions. As for the pitching, there’ve been no real worries on top of a couple of real positives, including terrific showings by Joe Blanton and Kyle Kendrick. The Phils must know that now is the time to move Blanton, with the hope they can parlay Blanton into infield help.
And speaking of the infield, Freddy Galvis has gained my respect as a Major League ready defender with developing situational tools at the plate. Yesterday, he showcased his small ball instincts with a perfectly executed bunt, following up by muscling one out to left field on a ball down and away.
Meanwhile, Scott Podsednik continues to make a strong case for making the team, and I like what I’ve seen from Hector Luna, who could possibly help the Phillies in a reserve role down the road.