Fantastic Fourth: Mets Welcomed to Philly By Facing Cole Hamels

Fantastic Fourth: Mets Welcomed to Philly By Facing Cole Hamels

The New York Mets come into Philadelphia this
evening with a renewed hope of putting their laughable struggles of the
past few seasons behind them. It's Cole Hamels job to take the first
step in squashing that hope, and demonstrating the Phillies are, once
again, the team to beat the the NL East.

The Mets have made some changes in their decision makers, but the
core of their team remains very similar to the team of the past few
seasons. That said, the Phillies are not looking past the Mets this
season. Charlie Manuel even thinks they're going to surprise some
people.

"When I look at their team, their starting pitching usually pitches
pretty good against us, especially three or four of their starters. They
still have Rodriguez at the back of their bullpen," Manuel said. "If
you look at their lineup, they've got a pretty good lineup. They're
going to win more games than people think they are."

The Mets will throw their fourth starter this evening, the tall Chris
Young. That's pretty much the most noteworthy thing about Young, that
he's 6 feet, 10 inches tall.

"He's Big," Charlie Manuel said of Young. "He looks like he's
standing right up on top of you. He's not throwing the ball real hard.
But his fastball is sneaky. Sometimes he's kind of wild enough to be
real good."

He'll face the same Phillies lineup that started opening day, with
Shane Victorino back in the leadoff spot and playing center field after
getting the beginning to Sunday's game off.

The Phillies will counter the Mets fourth starter with one Colbert
Hamels. Asked if it has hit him until now that Cole Hamels is his fourth
starter, Manuel had this to say, "It's going to hit me tonight when I
get to see him."

Should finally hit the rest of us too.

7:05 scheduled start time from chilly CBP this evening.

*

Utley Jog Watch

After reports this morning that Utley will be able to start jogging any day now, Ruben Amaro Jr. says Utley is, in fact, not close to jogging.
"He is not close to jogging. If he was close to jogging he’d be
jogging, I guess. He has taken some ground balls. He’s done okay with
that so far. But it’s still baby steps."

So that's neat.

Charlie was asked about Chase's progress before the game as well.

"He's
slowly coming around. I watched him the last couple of days. He's
starting to move a little farther each day," Manuel said of  Utley
taking more grounders prior to each game over the weekend.

DeSean Jackson talks possible Eagles reunion, says Wentz 'killed it' as rookie

DeSean Jackson talks possible Eagles reunion, says Wentz 'killed it' as rookie

The connection hasn't been hard to make. And it's been made plenty of times over the last couple months. 

DeSean Jackson will become a free agent on March 9 and the Eagles are in desperate need of help at receiver, specifically someone who can stretch the field — just like their former second-round pick. 

So a reunion just makes too much sense. And it was a topic of conversation when Jackson joined Adam Schefter's ESPN podcast recently. 

"It definitely is a great story, I guess you could say," Jackson said. "Starting your career somewhere and obviously going to a division rival team and having the possibility of maybe going back. I mean you kind of just think about all of that, where you started from and maybe where you want to finish it. It’s just a lot of speculation of a lot of thoughts. It almost sounds good but you never really know until the final decision is made. 

"But I’m just a firm believer of you work hard, you put in the work, and continuously go out there and show everybody what you’re capable of doing. I think the sky is the limit for me. My agent, Joel Segal, he's in a great position. I’m in a great position. Really, I’m just going to let him be the expertise guy. He’s the one with all the experience. He’s been doing this for plenty of years. With the conversations we’ve been having, it’s great on our end. The best thing we need to do is stay under the radar, me continuously working out, and from there we’ll just sit back and see what teams are putting out there."

Jackson, 30, is probably in line for a big payday. And really, there's a pretty good chance he'll just end up going to whichever team offers him the biggest and best contract. But aside from money, Jackson, who is entering his 10th year in the NFL, said he wants to play for a team that gives him a chance to win. A big part of that is playing with a great quarterback. 

While he said Kirk Cousins is a great quarterback, having another one to catch passes from is important to Jackson. 

"I want to win," Jackson said. "Obviously, I haven't won a Super Bowl, so the team that can win, a team that has a great quarterback. And that's definitely what stands out to me."

Carson Wentz might not be a great quarterback yet, but he did have some impressive moments during his rookie season in 2016. And Jackson was watching. While Jackson first praised all the quarterbacks in the NFL, he then answered a specific question about Wentz. 

"Carson Wentz, he came in and had a heck of a year as a rookie," Jackson said. "I mean, I don’t think a lot of people saw that coming. You know, they had Sam Bradford who was there, who ended up getting traded to Minnesota, so he didn’t have no choice but to step up and be that guy. But that was a gutsy call for the organization to really believe in a young guy like that, just came out of college and give him that shot. I think he killed it. He was lights out, had heck of a year. He definitely showed me he can do it and he has all the intangibles of being a big-time quarterback in this league."

If Jackson does return to Philly, the question would be: Can Wentz reach his full potential while Jackson is still a dynamic player? 

Jackson, who turned 30 in December, said he still wants to play four, five or even six more years in the league. He thinks he can be a dynamic outside deep threat for three or four of those. 

Has he seen any drop-off in his speed? 

"Not at all," Jackson said. "I really feel like I could still (run in the) low 4.3s or 4.29 (in the 40-yard dash) like I did when I came out the combine." 

If Jackson's speed ever does diminish, he said he could play in the slot. He pointed to the end of Santana Moss' career as an example. While Jackson's planning ahead in case his speed vanishes, he is hoping it never does. 

If the reunion happens, the Eagles will be right there with him. 

Best of NHL: Trocheck's last-second goal lifts Panthers past Blues

Best of NHL: Trocheck's last-second goal lifts Panthers past Blues

ST. LOUIS -- Vincent Trocheck scored with just under 5 seconds remaining to lift the Florida Panthers to a 2-1 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Monday night.

Jonathan Marchessault also scored and James Reimer stopped 26 shots to help the Panthers complete a 5-0 road trip -- their first perfect trip of at least that many games in franchise history.

Reimer has won five straight decisions and has not lost in regulation since Jan. 7 against Boston, going 6-0-1 since.

The Panthers moved into a tie with Boston for third place in the Atlantic Division, but have the edge because they have a game in hand on the Bruins.

Kyle Brodziak, playing for the second time after missing 10 games due to a broken foot, scored for the Blues and Jake Allen finished with 31 saves. St. Louis lost its second straight since winning six in a row (see full recap).

Coyotes use three-goal 1st period to beat Ducks
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Radim Vrbata capped Arizona's three-goal first period and the Coyotes held on for 3-2 victory over the Anaheim Ducks on Monday night.

Christian Dvorak and Jakob Chychrun also scored for Arizona, and starting goalie Mike Smith had 27 saves before leaving about 4 1/2 minutes into the third period after a collision in the net. Marek Langhamer helped kill a power play after being pressed into action for his NHL debut and stopped six of the seven shots he faced.

The Coyotes have won four of their last six.

Langhamer gave up Ryan Getzlaf's second goal of the night with 26.8 seconds to play, but thwarted two quality shots in the final seconds.

Jonathan Bernier gave up three goals on six shots in the first period for the Ducks. John Gibson came on to start the second and stopped all 14 shots he faced (see full recap).