Who Are These Guys? Meet Your 2013 Philadelphia Phillies

Who Are These Guys? Meet Your 2013 Philadelphia Phillies

With an estimated $159 million in payroll, the
Phillies have the third-most expensive ball club in Major League Baseball this
year. They also have 15 players who weren’t on the Opening Day roster in 2012,
whether it was because they were on the disabled list, in the minors, or
playing for another team at the time. In this primer we draw the curtain on the
25 players who made the club in ‘13, check in on some stats from spring
training, and even take a peek at who might be next in line.

Starting pitchers (5)

Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, Kyle Kendrick, John Lannan, Cliff
Lee

Trending up? Think
Hamels is ready for to make the first Opening Day start of his big league
career? King Cole enjoyed his best spring ever, allowing two earned runs over
19 innings while opposing batters hit for a .172 average in Grapefruit League
action. He’s never been more comfortable, the contract situation taken care of,
his standing as the franchise ace cemented. What’s more, at 29 years of age it
appears Hamels’ best days are still ahead of him.

Trending down? Maybe
Halladay will be just fine, but you can probably forget about ever seeing the Doc
of old again. His decline began right on time last year, while this spring
brought with it more questions than answers. The Phils will be fine as long as
Roy is healthy and his stuff effective enough to keep them close in a majority of
his starts. However, despite Kyle Kendrick’s steady improvement, they might be
in trouble if KK winds up being the staff’s true number three.

Up their sleeve:
Tyler Cloyd got the call late last season, although he isn’t generally considered
one of the organization’s top prospects. Right-handers Jonathan Pettibone and
Ethan Martin – ranked four and six in the Phillies’ system according to
Baseball America – are also on the 40-man roster. Whichever one of the three is
performing the best could find themselves in the show in the event of an
injury, or possibly even if the back end of the rotation were to struggle.

Outlook: Doc is
the key. Unless Kendrick can continue to build on his strong finish to 2012 (7-3,
2.43 over final 10 starts), the starting pitching is only as sound as Halladay
is.

Relievers (7)

Mike Adams,
Phillippe Aumont, Antonio Bastardo, Chad Durbin, Jeremy Horst, Jonathan Papelbon Raul Valdes

All set(up): Last season the Phillies lost 12
games in which they took a lead into the eighth inning. Had they won even
two-thirds of those, the Fightins would have been in the playoffs. Well, that
shouldn’t be a problem anymore. Setup man extraordinaire Mike Adams was signed
in the offseason to plug that leak, and he looks poised to deliver. Adams
allowed only four hits and one run in nine innings of work this spring, so it
should be safe to say fewer games will be slipping away.

Cliff finally produces: When Aumont got the call this past
August, he became the first prospect from the Cliff Lee trade to Seattle to reach
the show. So far the hard-throwing righty is panning out nicely, entering his first
full season in the bigs coming off one of the best springs in Philly’s bullpen.
Of their seven relievers, only Adams had better than Aumont’s 3.24 ERA, who
also struck out seven over 8.1 frames. If anything should happen to Adams or
Papelbon, this 24 year old might have the stuff to fill their roles.

Outlook: There’s a good chance the bullpen
transforms from weakness into strength. They can’t be any worse than 2012, that’s
for sure.

Catchers (2)

Erik Kratz,
Humberto Quintero

Help is on the way: Kratz and Quintero only have to hold
down the fort for about a month or so until Carlos Ruiz can return from his
25-game suspension. Think about it as a short stint on the disabled list. Kratz
looked more than capable of filling in for Chooch when he was hurting last summer,
so the Fightins should be fine until May. Question is which Ruiz returns: the
power-hitting catcher from 2012, or the meek bat with no extra base hits in 26
at bats this Spring?

Outlook: Chooch will be fine. Kratz is
adequate until then.

Infielders (6)

Kevin
Frandsen, Freddy Galvis, Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Michael Young

Healthy as a horse: It was probably nothing short of
delusional to take playoff expectations for the Phillies into 2012 when they
were without the two biggest horses in their lineup for half the season. Both Utley
and Howard returned for spring training looking healthy and rejuvenated, combining
to appear in 52 Grapefruit games and bashing 12 home runs. Howard also posted a
.322 average. Make no mistake, their presence is a game changer.

Stopgap at third: There was a surprising amount of
backlash to the Michael Young acquisition, but even if the 36 year old puts up
2012 numbers, he’s an upgrade over what the Phils had at third base. The
seven-time All Star hasn’t looked too bad protecting Howard, driving in 16 RBI
this spring. Defense might be the biggest concern, but Young made some nice
plays over at the hot corner as well. Either way it’s likely just a one-year
rental, and a damn good one if he can hit .300 again.

Outlook: The core may be getting up there in
age, but these guys are All Stars and MVPs. There should be enough pop left in
this group to make a run.

Outfielders (5)

Domonic
Brown, Ender Inciarte, John Mayberry Jr., Laynce Nix, Ben Revere

Springing into action: Would the real Dom Brown please stand
up? Once considered one of the top prospects in baseball, there were plenty of folks
who were ready to give up on the 25 year old even though he’s had the
equivalent of a season’s worth of at bats in the Majors. Dom has been on a tear
this spring though, leading the Phillies in hits and runs while also tying for
the clubhouse lead in homers and RBI. He solidified his spot, but will success follow
him into the regular season?

Ben Revere’s ride: Will Jimmy Rollins finally get
overtaken for the leadoff spot? If anybody is going to do it, this is the guy.
Revere may not hit home runs ever (seriously, ever), he showed what he brings
to the table this spring, getting on base then wreaking havoc. He was second to
Brown in hits with 29, posted a .368 OBP, plus stole 10 bags. If J-Roll is
hitting number two all season as he will on Opening Day, there’s a good chance he could be driving Revere home with
some frequency.

The season is Young: It remains to be seen how much help
Delmon Young will provide this year. He starts the season on the disabled list
after undergoing microfracture surgery on his ankle over the winter, and will
have to find his groove without the benefit of a full spring training. As
unpopular as the 2012 ALCS MVP is, Young is a right-handed bat with the
potential to hit 20 bombs, which can definitely be an asset. The only question is
whose roster spot will he take once he is ready?

Ruf time of it: There were high hopes for Darin Ruf
to make the roster this year, but he didn’t have the impact the team was
hoping. Ruf hit .246 with just two home runs this spring, and perhaps more to
his detriment was some spotty play out in left field to put it kindly.
Clearwater this time of year can be a tough place to learn the position. Either
way, he just wasn’t ready. That said, we probably haven’t heard the last of “Babe”
Ruf in 2013.

Outlook: There’s a lot riding on Brown to
finally live up to his billing this year. If he’s up to the task, this group of
outfielders can make the leap from ordinary to mighty.

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MLB Notes: Rangers' Rougned Odor's suspension reduced to 7 games

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MLB Notes: Rangers' Rougned Odor's suspension reduced to 7 games

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor started serving his suspension Friday for punching Toronto's Jose Bautista after the penalty was reduced from eight to seven games.

Odor was out of the lineup for the series opener against Pittsburgh. He will be eligible to return June 4 when Texas is home against Seattle.

Bautista was suspended one game, and he was serving that Friday, when the penalty was upheld a day after his appeal was heard.

The Rangers promoted former top prospect Jurickson Profar from Triple-A Round Rock, and he was in the lineup against the Pirates as the leadoff hitter playing second base. Odor had been leading off.

Odor's penalty was cut by Major League Baseball special assistant John McHale Jr. The appeal over Odor's role in a May 15 brawl between the Rangers and Blue Jays was heard Tuesday. The league disciplined 14 players and staff over the melee in Arlington (see full story).

Red Sox: Struggling RHP Clay Buchholz to bullpen
TORONTO -- Struggling Red Sox pitcher Clay Buchholz is being moved to the bullpen and left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez will take Buchholz's spot in the rotation, starting Tuesday at Baltimore.

Buchholz is 2-5 with a 6.35 ERA in 10 starts and has allowed five earned runs or more six times. He gave up season-highs of six runs and three home runs in Thursday's 8-2 loss to Colorado.

Rodriguez (right knee) is on the 15-day DL has not pitched for the Red Sox this season. He's 0-3 with a 3.54 ERA in five rehab starts at Triple-A Pawtucket. He went 10-6 with a 3.85 ERA as a rookie in 2015.

Buchholz has made two career relief appearances, one in his rookie season in 2007 and another in 2008.

Manager John Farrell said Buchholz will make multi-inning appearances in order to remain stretched out and could return to the rotation later in the season.

NBA Playoffs: Cavs blow out Raptors for second straight Finals appearance

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NBA Playoffs: Cavs blow out Raptors for second straight Finals appearance

BOX SCORE

TORONTO -- LeBron James scored 33 points, Kevin Love had 20 points and 12 rebounds, and the Cleveland Cavaliers advanced to their second straight NBA Finals by beating the Toronto Raptors 113-87 in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals Friday night.

It's the third finals appearance in team history for the Cavaliers. Cleveland lost to Golden State in six games last year and got swept by San Antonio in 2007.

For James, it's his sixth straight trip to the finals, including four with Miami. He broke the 30-point barrier for the first time this postseason and finished with 11 rebounds and six assists.

"We needed LeBron to set the tone for us early and I thought he did that," coach Tyronn Lue said.

James will be the eighth player in NBA history to appear in six consecutive finals and the first who didn't play for the Boston Celtics.

"He's just a great player," Lue said. "He's a proven winner. He's always won over the course of his career. To go to six straight finals is unbelievable."

James got there by taking down a Toronto team that set a franchise record with 56 wins and reached the conference finals for the first time in 21 seasons.

After a second-quarter dunk, James shared some verbal barbs with rapper Drake, the Raptors' global ambassador and the man who popularized the nickname `6ix' for Toronto.

Kyrie Irving had 30 points and J.R. Smith added 15 for the Cavaliers, who will face the winner of the Golden State-Oklahoma City series on Thursday.

Cleveland would open at home against the Thunder but would be on the road against the 73-win Warriors, who trail 3-2 against Oklahoma City heading into Saturday's Game 6.

The Cavs will be seeking to end Cleveland's 52-year championship drought, the longest by any city with at least three professional teams. No Cleveland team has won it all since the Browns blanked Baltimore 27-0 to win the NFL championship in 1964.

"This city has been craving a championship," Lue said. "We have the right team and we have the right talent."

Kyle Lowry scored 35 points and DeMar DeRozan had 20 as the deepest playoff run in Raptors team history ended, much to the disappointment of a sellout crowd of 20,605 dressed in red and white T-shirts that formed a maple leaf pattern on either side of the court. Fans stood and cheered "Let's go, Raptors! Let's go, Raptors!" throughout most of the final three minutes.

Raptors coach Dwane Casey said reaching the conference finals was "a tremendous learning experience" for his young team, one that's "a step ahead" in its process of becoming a championship contender.

"We're learning," Casey said. "We're not where (the Cavaliers) are right now. We're going to be."

A dejected Lowry said it was hard to see the positive side of Toronto's best season ever.

"Of course you're going to look back at some point but right now I'm disappointed," he said. "Simple as that, I'm disappointed."

Toronto prolonged the series with back-to-back home wins in Games 3 and 4 but never mounted much of a challenge to the conference champions in Game 6, falling behind by 21 in the third quarter.

The Cavaliers came in 0-4 at Air Canada Centre counting the regular season and playoffs, but looked much more like the team that handed the Raptors a trio of lopsided losses in Cleveland this series.

The Raptors trailed 88-78 on a jumper by DeRozan with 10:23 remaining but James scored six points in a 14-3 run that gave the Cavs a 102-81 lead with about 6 minutes left.

James scored 14 in the first and five of Cleveland's nine field goals were from long range as the Cavaliers led 31-25 after one.

After video review, the officials waved off a basket by Biyombo with 3:18 left in the period and gave him a flagrant foul for knocking down Love.

Tempers flared again early in the second when Richard Jefferson reacted angrily to catching an elbow from Jonas Valanciunas as the two battled for a rebound. Patrick Patterson came over and shoved Jefferson out of the way. Both Patterson and Jefferson were given technical fouls.

Cleveland made five more 3-pointers in the second and outscored Toronto 9-3 over the final 71 seconds to lead 55-41 at halftime. The Cavaliers made 10 of 15 3-point attempts in the first half, while Toronto was 2 of 12.

The Cavs led 78-57 after a 3 by Love at 3:53 of the third but Lowry scored 15 points as Toronto closed the quarter with a 17-8 run, cutting it to 86-74.

Tip-ins
Cavaliers: Shot 17 for 31 from 3-point range. ... Outscored Toronto 17-5 in fast break points.

Raptors: Finished their playoff run by playing every other day from April 29 onward, a 15-game run that started with Game 6 of the first round against Indiana.

NFL Notes: Jets' offer to QB Ryan Fitzpatrick stands at 3 years

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NFL Notes: Jets' offer to QB Ryan Fitzpatrick stands at 3 years

NEW YORK -- A person familiar with the negotiations says the New York Jets made a three-year offer to quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick in March that includes $12 million guaranteed in the first year.

That offer has remained on the table for Fitzpatrick, according to the person who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because neither side is commenting publicly on the negotiations.

The New York Post first reported the terms of the offer Friday.

Fitzpatrick and the Jets have been locked in a contract stalemate. The 33-year-old quarterback is a free agent and coming off a season in which he threw a Jets-record 31 touchdown passes and led New York within a victory of the playoffs.

Both the Jets and Fitzpatrick have said they would like a reunion, but have unable to agree on a deal.

Bears: First-round pick Leonard Floyd agrees to deal
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The Chicago Bears and first-round draft pick Leonard Floyd have agreed to a four-year contract with an option for a fifth year.

The Bears drafted the outside linebacker from Georgia with the ninth pick after trading up two spots in a deal with Tampa Bay. Chicago hopes he will add some athleticism to a team trying to build on a 6-10 season. The 6-foot-6, 244-pound Floyd led the Bulldogs in sacks for the third straight year with 4 , and tied for the team lead with 10 1/2 tackles for loss last season.

With the announcement Friday, the Bears have agreed to contracts with eight of their nine picks. Defensive end Jonathan Bullard, a third-rounder, is the exception.

NFL: Navy's Reynolds, Carter can defer military service
ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- Keenan Reynolds will get his chance to play in the NFL this season.

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter announced Friday that the record-setting Navy quarterback Reynolds and fullback Chris Swain can defer their military service to play in the NFL.

Carter made the announcement during his graduation speech to the academy in Annapolis. As students cheered the news about their graduating classmates, Carter said: "Go get 'em."

Reynolds was drafted in the sixth round by the Baltimore Ravens. He is the NCAA's career leader in touchdowns with 88. He had 31 touchdown passes while leading Navy's triple-option offense. The Ravens plan to use him as a running back, receiver and kick returner.

Swain has signed with the San Diego Chargers (see full story).

Redskins: Activists criticize poll on team name
WASHINGTON -- Native American leaders and activists have criticized a recent US national poll that found nine of 10 Native Americans aren't offended by the Washington Redskins' name.

On a conference call held Friday by the National Congress of American Indians and "Change the Mascot" campaign, panelists voiced opposition to a Washington Post poll that surveyed 504 Native Americans, 90 percent of whom said the name doesn't bother them.

James Fenelon, a California State San Bernardino sociology professor, called the poll "immoral," adding it was not representative of Native American communities. Amanda Blackhorse, lead plaintiff in the trademark case against the Redskins, said the "misguided" poll will not affect attempts to change the name.

National Congress of American Indians Executive Director Jackie Pata said: "This issue is not about polling. This issue is about human rights."

D.C. council member David Grosso said he hadn't been swayed and that the government would not support the team moving back into the District unless the name was changed.

The team currently plays its home games in Maryland, with its headquarters and training facility in Virginia.