For the the first time since Ryan Howard
stood motionless at home plate as the San Francisco Giants celebrated
last October, the Phillies take the field at Citizens Bank Park this
evening to play a baseball game. Granted, not a baseball game that
counts in the standings, but a game that could have meaning for a number
of players still fighting for a spot on the Fightins opening day
Charlie Manuel held his first pregame powwow in the dugout prior to
this evening's On-Deck Series game with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He did
not suddenly become shy during the offseason.
Manuel noted how many of the current stars like Utley, Howard, and
Victorino had to wait their turn before turning into stars. Following
that train of thought, Manuel says Ben Francisco will be your opening
day right fielder and said he believes Benny deserves a chance to shine
much like those guys who he'll be playing alongside got.
So what's Charlie most concerned about just days before the 2011
campaign kicks off in earnest? Production from the three and five spots
in the order.
"I'm not saying our guys can't," Manuel noted. But Jayson Werth's
2010 production will be tough to duplicate and the Phillies have plenty
of questions to be answered.
"Gotta change those question marks into exclamation marks," Manuel said.
As for second base, Charlie says he has a guy in mind to start in the
spot all Phillies fans wish Chase Utley were manning, but Chuck won't
name an opening day starter until Wednesday evening or perhaps some
Tonight, Luis Castillo will get another chance to show that he can still play.
They key word in all of this is "play." And that's what the Phillies
will do tonight in South Philly under very chilly conditions. Roy Oswalt
vs. Ross Ohlendorf. Bring your wool caps.
Video of the Phillies new HD scoreboard: