Phils Back in Action Tonight As Hamels', Polanco's Conditions Updated

Phils Back in Action Tonight As Hamels', Polanco's Conditions Updated

Seems like it's been forever since the Phillies last took the diamond, in part because they've only played two games in the previous five days. The lull ends right now though, as they welcome the NL West-leading Diamondbacks to Citizens Bank Park for a possible landscape-altering three game set.

More on tonight's match after the jump, but first, the updates on a couple of banged up Phils.

Hamels Avoids the DL
The results on Cole Hamels' MRI came back, and while they didn't show any serious damage to Cole's pitching shoulder, there was some inflammation. For now, the plan is to hold him out of his next start, which was scheduled for Friday. Based on the Phillies' web site, CSN surmised that Roy Oswalt could be in line to take his place.

Overall, this doesn't seem like a huge deal right now. It might not be a bad idea to get these guys a little additional rest before the post-season anyway, and there is certainly no need to take risks with an 8.5-game lead in the division. Still, it's a situation to monitor when Cole makes his next appearance.

Polanco Out
David Murphy is reporting Placido Polanco is not in tonight's lineup, which could spell bad news for the All Star third baseman. On Friday, Polly told reporters that if he wasn't able to play by today, he might be headed for surgery to take care of a sports hernia. Murphy continues that Polanco was seen taking some infield practice earlier.

Martinez is at third tonight, and will bat eighth.

Losing Polanco until the post-season would be an unfavorable result, but he hasn't exactly been himself after jumping out to a roaring start. Polanco hit .398 for the month of April, dipping down to .248 in May, and .213 in June before he ultimately went on the DL effective July 5. He's hit .292 since he returned, but hasn't been in the lineup going on seven straight games.

Last Meeting/Tonight's Pitching Match-up
The Phillies were last in Arizona back in April, where the DBacks took two of three, beating Oswalt and Cliff Lee in the process. Tonight, they draw Cy Young. (Yes, we are aware this is the first mention of Doc in this gamethread.)

While Roy Halladay will go out and do what Roy Halladay does, the offense will get their first good look at Arizona rookie Josh Collmenter (7-7, 3.51). The 25-year-old righty made one relief appearance against the Fightins on April 27, throwing a scoreless, runner-less eighth inning with one K in a losing effort.

On a personal note, I'd be interested to see what the Phillies' offensive numbers are like when facing a starter for the first time. I can think of a few occasions this season where they  absolutely lit a guy up, but many more instances when they were completely shut down.

We'll see if they can take advantage of Collmenter, who worked a solid seven innings in his most recent outing versus Houston, but was rocked by the Dodgers in each of his previous two starts, allowing 11 earned runs in a combined six innings of work.

Joel Embiid unhappy with how Sixers handled injury updates

Joel Embiid unhappy with how Sixers handled injury updates

CAMDEN, N.J. -- Joel Embiid will miss the next four games and is slated to return March 3 against the Knicks in Philadelphia, so long as he is symptom-free. While Embiid wants to play as soon as possible, he’s just glad there is now a definitive timetable announced.

Prior to Thursday, the team had not announced a specific timeframe.

“I wasn’t too happy with the way it was kind of handled before,” Embiid said. “I saw the day-to-day part. I was told that I was going to miss at least two or three weeks. So I wasn’t happy with the way it was handled.

“I thought keeping my name out there was going to just like literally have people think about me all the time instead of just saying when I was going to be back. So I’m happy that they did that today and they said that I’m out for the next four games.”

Embiid suffered a left knee contusion on Jan. 22 against the Trail Blazers. He sat out three games and returned on Jan. 27 to play the Rockets. He has not played since then, sitting out the last eight games.

An MRI also revealed Embiid has a slight tear in his meniscus, which is not thought to be related to the contusion.

Embiid went through a full practice on Thursday for the first time, he estimated, in four or five weeks. (Wednesday’s practice was not intense.) According to the Sixers, they are encouraged by the progress Embiid showed but do not feel he is game-ready. Team doctors are holding him out the next four games to minimize the risk of aggravating his knee. In order for him to be cleared, Embiid has to be symptom-free.

Embiid had eyed a return on Friday against the Wizards because he was feeling well, he said, but he had some swelling on Thursday.

“No swelling, no pain, nothing,” Embiid said of his criteria to play.

Now the team -- and fans -- can move forward without daily questions of Embiid’s status.

“I think it’s good for everybody,” Brett Brown said. “For you all to understand, the people that buying a ticket to understand, for me as a coach to prepare my team that he’s not going to be here for four more games. I like that clarity. I’m fine with it. Obviously, you want him playing, but the mystery that surrounds that speculation I think is frustrating for people and we understand that.”

Embiid reiterated the patience aspect of the injury, noting he waited two years to rehab his foot and there is no need to rush his knee. Now everyone can be in the loop with his status.

“The end point is basically making sure I’m ready to play instead of just putting me out there,” Embiid said.

In Justin Anderson, Sixers get solid defensive wing who was buried in Dallas

In Justin Anderson, Sixers get solid defensive wing who was buried in Dallas

On the surface, the Nerlens Noel trade doesn't look good.

The Sixers on Thursday traded the third-year big man to the Dallas Mavericks for forward Justin Anderson, center Andrew Bogut and a top-18 protected first-round pick. That first-rounder turns into two second-round picks if it doesn't convey in 2017. Yuck. And double yuck.

The only hope in this trade comes in Anderson. The former first-round pick has the look of a prototypical NBA wing. At 6-foot-6 with a nearly 7-foot wingspan, he has the frame to disrupt passing lanes and the bulk at 228 pounds to muscle up stronger swingmen.

At Virginia, Anderson was a key cog for a team that was ranked as high as No. 2 and earned a 2-seed in the 2015 NCAA Tournament. After that season, Anderson opted to forego his senior year and enter the NBA draft. He was selected 21st overall by the Mavericks in 2015.

Virginia coach Tony Bennett preaches defense and Anderson was one of his finest disciples in that regard. Offensive limitations and being a part of a balanced attack with the Cavaliers caused Anderson's stock to drop. Despite shooting 45 percent from three in his final season, Anderson was considered a streaky shooter and, frankly, that's remained the NBA.

His rookie season was one to forget. The Mavericks were competitive in the Western Conference, finishing as the 6-seed and losing to the Thunder in the first round. Anderson couldn't find his way into Rick Carlisle's rotation. Dallas' never-ending supply of point guards coupled with the sharpshooting duo of Wesley Matthews and Chandler Parsons relegated Anderson to just 11.8 minutes a game his rookie season. In his limited time, he shot 41 percent from the field and 27 percent from three.

Unfortunately, it's been a similar story this season, but with some glimmers of hope. Anderson is still losing minutes to Matthews and also big free-agent acquisition Harrison Barnes, who's having a strong first season with the Mavs. But over a three-game stretch in late January, Anderson averaged 15.7 points and 4.3 rebounds in 20 minutes per game. He also shot 6 of 16 (38 percent) from three during that span.

“I don’t want to sell myself short,” Anderson said to the Star-Telegram during that run. “I still think that I can be a really great player in this league, but I think it’s going to take a lot of hard work.

“I think [the early-season struggles] may be the best thing that’s happened to me in my career. All we can do is wait and just keep working hard, push through it and hopefully one day it’ll all pay off."

The most promising numbers in Anderson's young career are that he's averaging 1.2 steals and 1.1 blocks per 36 minutes as a pro. At the very least, Anderson should develop into a solid defensive wing. If he develops offensively, who knows?

Per ESPN's Kevin Pelton, "Noel and Anderson (who just sneaks over the bar) are both among the 21 players in the league who have averaged 2.0 steals per 100 team plays and blocked 2.0 percent of opponent 2-point attempts or better in at least 500 minutes."

It's tough to argue that this trade was a good one for Bryan Colangelo. With that said, Anderson could still turn out to be a decent NBA player. He needs minutes and patience, two things the Sixers can offer in spades.