As you watch a Philadelphia Phillies spring training game, there are some things you have probably already taken note of.
Aces, Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels only throw a few innings per start, closer Jonathan Papelbon has come in to pitch in the 5th or 7th inning, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard are nowhere to be found, Jimmy Rollins and Hunter Pence don’t play every game or every inning, veteran Jim Thome is playing as a DH and Domonic Brown is getting playing time with the big league club once again.
It isn’t exactly the scenario you may have expected when the 2011 season came to an end, but hey it is spring training, and any baseball fan knows that the above and other spring oddities are totally normal and expected parts of baseball’s version of a pre-season.
In addition to the line-ups that may have some shaking their heads, spring training is also the time when prospects, non-roster invitees and minor league free agent signings use everything in their power to play inspired baseball and win a spot on the big league club. The games may in and of themselves be a little boring but the position battles certainly are not.
So the next time you tune in to a Phillies Grapefruit League game, don’t pay attention to the fact that Roy Halladay is only pitching four innings before being pulled or that Jimmy Rollins is striking out while working on his bunting. Instead, watch as Freddy Galvis flashes some leather and displays some surprising pop, notice how Domonic Brown’s offensive output is improving, observe how Scott Podsednik has emerged as a candidate to earn a bench spot and pay attention to Phillipe Aumont, Justin DeFratus and Michael Shwimer every time they pitch.
These are just some of the stories that have emerged out of the Phillies camp and ones that will certainly be interesting to follow as Opening Day inches closer.