Halladay Kicks Off Wrigley Series, Plus Other Exciting Tidbits

Halladay Kicks Off Wrigley Series, Plus Other Exciting Tidbits

CHICAGO -- Phillies fans are out in force at Wrigley Field this week.

Stopping into the local drinking establishment Cubby Bear across the street prior to the game, Phils fans dominated the place. It was, however, 2:30 in the afternoon. So perhaps Philadelphians are just more into day drinking? Or unemployed/on vacation. Either way, they'll be both plentiful and vocal over the next few days in the Windy City.

Roy Halladay (11-3, 2.45) takes on former Phillie Rodrigo Lopez (1-2, 4.02) in the first of the three game set.

Lopez
appeared in seven games for the Phillies in 2009 and actually made five
starts, earning three wins despite a 5.70 ERA in 30.0 innings of work. Lopez got off to a hot start to his short stint with the World Series bound Fightins, but couldn't press his luck successfully and was eventually let go to make room for one Pedro Martinez.

Roy Halladay's career with the Phillies has gone a little bit better.

Charlie Manuel's thoughts on what the team should add prior to the trade deadline as well as Shane Victorino and Placido Polanco injury updates below. Plus a Sarge Matthews sighting.

Tonight's Phillies lineup: Jimmy
Rollins, Michael Martinez, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Raul Ibanez,
Carlos Ruiz, Dom Brown, John Mayberry Jr., Roy Hallday

Bullpen Help or a Right-handed Bat

With the trade deadline inching closer, Charlie Manuel was asked before the game whether he believed the team could use more, another reliable arm in the pen or a right-handed bat. One thing in his response was clear, if the Phils are going to add a piece, he wants it to be an upgrade.

"I think we can definitely use a reliever, I think without a doubt, but we could also use a good bat. And when I say a reliever or a bat, I'm talking about a *good* one," Manuel said. "If we can find a good bat and we don't find a good reliever, then we take the good bat. If we gonna get somebody, I want somebody good. I want somebody that is going to help us. I don't to get what we already got."

So Charlie's thinking big?

"I always think big."

Vic Update

Shane Victorino chatted before the game and says that he expects to play tomorrow but added that there will continue to be discomfort in his thumb. He says he doesn't believe it's anything that will get worse, but added that when he swings the bat, particularly left-handed, that getting jammed certainly can generate discomfort.

Charlie Manuel added that he'll wait and see Vic get evaluated after he took batting practice and worked out this evening before making any decisions on whether Shane will be activated for tomorrow.

Shane, talking about the infamous beer throwing incident from 2009 at Wrigley, joked before the game about wearing a beer helmet out to the outfield this week.

Polly Outlook Not As Promising

Placido Polanco is not progressing as quickly, and will likely need a cortisone shot in his back. Jim Salisbury has more on that.

*

Here's a random shot of Sarge Matthews this afternoon in Chicago. He just happened to be walking by as I was trying to take a picture of the iconic Wrigley sign:

Want to play corner for Jim Schwartz? Must worry about more than deep ball

Want to play corner for Jim Schwartz? Must worry about more than deep ball

The Eagles might not have any top-flight cornerbacks, but they certainly have a lot of guys with some talent.

Many of them are young, and all of them are battling for just several roster spots.

That hodgepodge of talent has made the corner position one of the more intriguing spots at this year's training camp. We're not sure how it'll all shake out, who will be the starters, who will be the depth players.

But one thing's for certain: Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz wants all of them to be aggressive.

"It's going to be fun to watch the corners compete," Schwartz said after practice Tuesday. "We have some guys that can cover. We have some guys that have a great opportunity here. If they'll get up and they'll challenge receivers, like I said before, if you can cover — you can't cover many people if you don't want to challenge guys. That's God's honest truth. I could play the deep ball. I'd get my ass 50 yards deep and you couldn't get one over the top of me, but I couldn't cover anything else.

"There's a fine line in there. And the fine line is you obviously have to play the deep ball in this league, but if that's the only thing you're worried about, you're not going to cover anything else."

Schwartz said he's happy with the blend of veteran and young players on the roster, before rattling off five names: Nolan Carroll, Leodis McKelvin, Ron Brooks, JaCorey Shepherd and rookie Jalen Mills.

The one notable omission from that list of names is second-year player Eric Rowe, who finished last year as a starter, but has been somewhat of a forgotten man this spring and summer. On Monday, head coach Doug Pederson mentioned some "hiccups" Rowe encountered learning the new defensive scheme (see story).

Even with Rowe buried on the depth chart for now, there are still plenty of talented, young corners fighting for jobs.

Carroll, on the other hand, isn't young. He's 29 and a returning starter from last year. Schwartz praised Carroll's smarts and said he's been a resource for younger players. But Carroll is also coming off of a fibula fracture and subsequent surgery. That's why he's one of the select vets that reported to camp early.

"This is important for him now," Schwartz said. "It's a good opportunity for him to come back before the full club gets here, just to sort of test it out and see how he's feeling. You don't want to judge too much. He might need a day here or there. It helps that he's a veteran player."

It seems Carroll, on a one-year deal, has a decent shot of being a starter opposite McKelvin. During the spring, Brooks worked outside in the base package and moved inside to the slot. At times, the rookie Mills also played in the slot.

Schwartz said corners in the slot need a different set of skills than the ones outside. They need to have the "courage" to take on big-bodied running backs and the occasional pulling guard. They also need to cover differently.

"It's very rare that you're getting the same routes," he said. "You're not getting the same routes from the slot as you are from the outside. So there's a different skill set. Some guys can play both, some guys can't. So it's our job to determine over the next six weeks where all the guys fit in that."

Tonight's lineup: Ryan Howard starts; Ichiro in CF, 4 hits away from 3,000

Tonight's lineup: Ryan Howard starts; Ichiro in CF, 4 hits away from 3,000

Ryan Howard is in the Phillies' lineup Tuesday night, batting fourth against Marlins right-hander Tom Koehler. 

It's the second start in three games for Howard, who has actually been productive lately when he's gotten a chance to start. He went 2 for 3 on Saturday and had a homer in three of his previous five starts. Over that span he's gone 6 for 21 with three home runs and five RBIs as the Phillies' starting first baseman.

One of those homers was against Koehler last week at Citizens Bank Park, a two-run shot.

Howard's struggles this season have been well-documented and he's still hitting just .165, but he and Tommy Joseph have produced from a power standpoint. The only team in the majors that has more home runs from its first basemen than the Phillies (24) is the Cubs (26).

1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Odubel Herrera, CF
3. Maikel Franco, 3B
4. Ryan Howard, 1B
5. Cameron Rupp, C
6. Cody Asche, LF
7. Freddy Galvis, SS
8. Peter Bourjos, RF
9. Jerad Eickhoff, P

And for the Marlins:

1. Ichiro, CF (four hits away from 3,000)
2. Martin Prado, 3B
3. Christian Yelich, LF
4. Giancarlo Stanton, RF
5. Chris Johnson, 1B
6. Adeiny Hechavarria, SS
7. Jeff Mathis, C
8. Miguel Rojas, 2B
9. Tom Koehler, P

Adjusting to new home, Ben Simmons plays role model at Sixers Camp

Adjusting to new home, Ben Simmons plays role model at Sixers Camp

Wayne, Pa. -- Three steps. 

That’s all it takes before Ben Simmons is recognized walking through the streets of Philadelphia. 

This year’s No. 1 pick has been in the spotlight long before the Sixers drafted him in June, and now he's experiencing what it's like to be known as an NBA player in his new city. 

“I’ve been enjoying walking around South Street, getting some Ishkabibble's,” Simmons said Tuesday after a special appearance at the Sixers' Camp at Valley Forge Military Academy. 

At 6-foot-10, Simmons towers above most on the court, let alone on the sidewalk. Fans have been eager to welcome him to Philadelphia for a new chapter of the organization after three years of struggle. 

“Positive things,” Simmons said of the comments he receives. “I think a lot of people are excited, so I’ve been looking forward to it.”

Simmons understands the impact a professional athlete can have on young fans, and was excited to be at camp Tuesday.

Growing up in Australia, he never had the opportunity to hear from NBA players when he attended basketball camps. Now that he's in that position, the 20-year-old was glad to provide that memory to the 240 campers. 

“That would mean a lot if I was able to experience that,” Simmons said. 

Simmons demonstrated skill drills, such as passing fundamentals, interacted in a Q+A session and signed autographs for each camper. He also took individual photos for those who traveled internationally, including from Nigeria, Italy and Greece. 

“I’m just like them, but older,” Simmons said. “I’m just trying to be a good role model to them.”

Simmons plans to spend most of the offseason in Philadelphia as he gets settled into the city. He still has to move into his new home, but at least he knows where to get a cheesesteak in the meantime.