Found March 03, 2012 on Philly Sports World:

So the Philadelphia Phillies will begin their official Grapefruit League season today, as they take on the New York Yankees at 1PM. Cole Hamels will start for the Phillies. Newly acquired closer Jonathan Papelbon is also expected to see action on the mound.

There’s been a ton of news this week, so we’ll briefly try to cover everything.

Charlie Manuel said that he is “in no hurry” to get Chase Utley into game action, and it may be 7-10 days beforw the second baseman gets a start in ST. Last season Utley missed significant playing time because of Patellar tendinitis in his knee, and even when he did come back, was not the same player we had seen in years past. Hopefully this is an indication that the Phillies will take it easy on Utley and allow him to rest a bit more which might help him to raise his level of play again.

The Phillies will also be easing 3B Placido Polanco into action. Last year’s All Star 3B and Gold Glove winner had surgery in the offseason to repair a sports hernia. Polanco batted .398 in the month of April, but ended the season being very ineffective at the plate.

Ryan Howard saw his surgeon in Baltimore on Monday. Howard had developed a senoma at the site of his surgery. The surgeon opened Howard back up and cleaned out an infection that had developed there. The surgeon was able to confirm that Howard’s repaired Achilles tendon was still in tact, but this news has left Howard sidelined indefinitely and will probably push back his return to the Phillies lineup.

Cole Hamels, believed by many Phillies fans to be soft revealed in a CSNPhilly interview that he developed a sports hernia in his second start of last season. Hamels played through that pain but also experienced periods during the season that he couldn’t move his elbow in between starts. That was due to bone chips in the left elbow. Hamels had offseason surgeries to repair both conditions and is healthy now. Hamels posted a 14-9 record and a career low 2.79 ERA. Imagine if he’d been healthy?! Doesn’t sound too soft to me. In fact, that makes Hamels pretty tough in my book.

Charlie Manuel also indicated that he would be using John Mayberry Jr. At first base for the bulk of the starts while Ryan Howard recovers from his offseason Achilles surgery. The Phillies also have Jim Thome, Ty Wiggington and Laynce Nix who could also pick up starts at first in the absence of the Big Piece.

Finally, all of the free agency and contract talk has of course surrounded Cole Hamels. However the Phillies have another player in the final year of his contract in Shane Victorino. Victorino briefly spoke about his contract situation this week and initially stated his desire for a 5-year contract. The center fielder is 31 now. After his demands caused a small uproar, Victorino clarified his statement a day later saying that his biggest desire was to remain a Phillie, but that he will obviously try to max out his value in what may very well be his final contract of value.

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