The Phillies kicked off their exhibition On-Deck Series on Monday night at Citizens Bank Park in South Philadelphia. The atmosphere at the ballpark was less about the numbers on the scoreboard and more about welcoming baseball back for another season.
Following that spirit a number of players and coaches were wandering around the park hours before the game interacting with fans to show their appreciation. Chase Utley was giving away booklets in the concourse. Charlie Manuel was signing autographs at one of the ticketing windows. Jimmy Rollins sang Happy Birthday to at least one lucky fan in the stands. Cliff Lee was cruising around outside CBP in a golf cart, picking up lucky fans along the way. [photo of Cholly below]
As for the game, it was tied at 3-3 in the seventh inning at the time of this publishing. Riveting action all over the place. Notable moments included Shane Victorino legging out a triple and Jimmy Rollins getting gunned down at third in an attempted triple of his own. Jim Thome also had a nice moment when the Citizens Bank Park faithful gave him a standing ovation as he came up to pinch hit in the fifth inning. Joe Blanton pitched fine in his final tune up, allowing 2 runs on 3 hits and 3 strikeouts in 4.2 innings of work. The Phanatic, opting to wear red for the evening, shot hot dogs into the crowd from a cannon.
UPDATE: Freddy Galvis continued his impressive spring by ripping a go-ahead RBI triple in the bottom of the seventh. He also had a hit earlier in the evening and made a nice tricky stop at second.
UPDATE2: The Phillies won 4-3.
Photo captions: Philadelphia Phillies' Cliff Lee gives a thumbs-up as he drives a golf cart to pick up fans outside the stadium before the Phillies' exhibition baseball game with the Pittsburgh Pirates on Monday, April 2, 2012, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Philadelphia Phillies manager Charlie Manuel signs a jersey for a fan as he works at a ticket window before the Phillies' exhibition baseball game with the Pittsburgh Pirates on Monday, April 2, 2012, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)