Links: Conlin's Prediction, Bengals Upset With Andrews, & Sixers Return

Links: Conlin's Prediction, Bengals Upset With Andrews, & Sixers Return

We're a little slow/busy today.  It's just so nice out, I could drop this right here...

Anyway, how about some general discussion from around town today?

- How do you like the Phils chances to repeat?  Bill Conlin likes them a lot in today's piece for the Daily News, saying they have a "better than even chance" of at least winning the pennant again.  How can you not like their odds? 

And let's tally up the assets that Manuel will carry into the most anticipated season in the history of the franchise.

Three-fourths of the infield represented by recent MVPs Jimmy
Rollins and Ryan Howard and MVP contender Chase Utley can stand with
any like trio in the history of the game.

I agree with the assessment of Paul Hagen that Manuel's outfield of
Raul Ibanez, Shane Victorino and Jayson Werth is the best in the East
Division.

And everyone else is back.  Hamels, while not scheduled to pitch the opener against the Braves, still isn't slated to miss a start at the moment.  He's penciled in for April 10 against the Rockies, and just pitched a fantastic minor league outing, going 3 2/3 and allowing 1 hit, 1 walk, and striking out 5.  If they stay healthy, yes, they should be right back in it again.

It's almost baseball season.  What a relief!

- Apparently the Bengals are pissed at Stacy Andrews.  According to head coach Marvin Lewis, the club was under the impression the right tackle intended on returning.  Obviously, it didn't turn out that way.

“I was disappointed because Stacy led us to believe that he wanted to
stay [in Cincinnati], so it was up to his representative to get a
contract done.  We felt like we had a deal done and then, all of a
sudden, he walked away and that disappointed me.”

First of all, as any Eagles fan knows after the Dawkins fiasco, if you want to keep somebody, you don't let them reach free agency.  When the clock strikes midnight and those deals come pouring in, there's no telling what can happen.

Furthermore, Stacy's particular scenario is a bit more special than ordinary free agency circumstances.  Not only was he offered a big time deal from an excellent franchise, he had the chance to be with family, a brother who could really use a support system at this stage of his career and life.  For Lewis and the Bengals to view that as just another business deal seems selfish.  If they were serious about keeping their player, he would have been there.

- Congrats to the Sixers for sorting themselves out somewhat on their five-game road swing, finishing 3-2 including that huge buzzer-beater win over the Lakers. It's been such an up-and-down campaign, but much like the Flyers, they are choosing a good time to get right, as long as it's not a mirage.

My question, which I've posed on a few occasions throughout the season, is where you think this team is headed?  They've been so difficult to read.  At times, it seems they're crashing and would be lucky to take a team to six games in the playoffs.  Right now, depending on who they draw, they could make a run at the second round, though that's optimistic.  Does anyone share that enthusiasm?

MLB Notes: White Sox scratch Chris Sale after 'clubhouse incident'

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USA Today Images

MLB Notes: White Sox scratch Chris Sale after 'clubhouse incident'

CHICAGO -- Chicago White Sox ace Chris Sale has been scratched from his start against the Detroit Tigers after he was involved in what the team says was a "non-physical clubhouse incident."

The White Sox declined to describe the incident, but said it's "currently under further investigation by the club" and that Sale was sent home from the park.

The move was announced less than a half hour before Saturday's game. Sale was going to attempt to become the first 15-game winner in the majors.

The White Sox planned to use multiple relievers in his place. The start of the game was delayed by rain.

With the White Sox fading from playoff contention, Sale's name has been mentioned as a possible trade target for contending teams.

The left-hander is 14-3 with a 3.18 ERA.

TWINS: Suzuki leaves game after taking foul ball off mask
BOSTON -- Minnesota Twins catcher Kurt Suzuki left Saturday night's game against the Boston Red Sox in the second inning after getting hit in the mask with a foul ball.

Suzuki appeared to have a cut on his chin as he walked to the dugout with a team trainer.

Boston's Dustin Pedroia was at the plate and fouled one off the catcher.

Suzuki was replaced by Juan Centeno.

PADRES: Cuban prospect signs deal with $7 million signing bonus
WASHINGTON -- Top Cuban prospect Jorge Ona and the San Diego Padres have agreed to a minor league contract with a $7 million signing bonus.

The 19-year-old outfielder receives $4.9 million within 30 days of the deal's approval by the commissioner's office and $2.1 million on Jan. 15. The deal is pending a physical.

Ona was ranked as the No. 8 international prospect of the 2016 class by MLB.com and the fourth-best available Cuban player earlier this year by Baseball America.

General manager A.J. Preller said during a conference call Friday that the contract is for 2017. He hopes Ona will play in the fall instructional league and then report for spring training and start his pro career next season.

Instant Replay: Pirates 7, Phillies 4

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Associated Press

Instant Replay: Pirates 7, Phillies 4

BOX SCORE

PITTSBURGH -- Gregory Polanco and David Freese hit two-run singles during a five-run fifth inning to rally the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 7-4 victory over the Phillies on Saturday at PNC Park.

Polanco’s hit put the Pirates ahead 4-3 and chased starter Aaron Nola. Freese’s hit off Severino Gonzalez pushed the lead to three runs and Francisco Cervelli capped the inning with a sacrifice fly as Pittsburgh won for the fourth time in six games.

Nola (5-9) allowed six runs in four-plus innings to take the loss. Center fielder Odubel Herrera went 3 for 4 with a triple as the Phillies outhit the Pirates, 12-7.

Catcher Cameron Rupp left the game in the third inning after being struck in the left ear flap of his helmet by a pitch from Pirates rookie right-hander Tyler Glasnow (see story). Rupp was found to have no concussion symptoms.

Starting pitching report
The bad Nola returned after pitching six scoreless innings in his previous outing Monday against the Miami Marlins. Prior to shutting down the Marlins, Nola allowed a combined 30 runs in five starts while failing to get past the fourth inning four times.

On Saturday, Nola gave up six hits, walked two and struck out five. He needed 80 pitches to get 12 outs.

Nola’s clunker came after Phillies starters allowed no more than one run or five hits in four of the previous five games. On Friday night in the opener of the three-game series in Pittsburgh, rookie right-hander Zach Elfin pitched a three-hitter for his first career shutout in the Phillies’ 4-0 victory over the Pirates.

At the plate
Herrera is 6 for 9 in the first two games of the series after going 4 for 41 in his previous 11 games. He tripled in the sixth inning and scored the game’s last run on a single by Andres Blanco.

Cesar Hernandez hit a pair of RBI singles and was one of four Phillies with two hits along with Blanco, Tommy Joseph and Carlos Ruiz, the last of whom took over behind the plate for Rupp. Joseph also hit an RBI single.

The Phillies held a 12-8 edge in hits.

Up next
The Phillies finish their three-game series with the Pirates at 1:35 p.m. Sunday then open a three-game series against the Marlins on Monday night at Miami.

The projected starters for the next four days:

Sunday afternoon --- RHP Vince Velasquez (8-2, 3.15) vs. RHP Jameson Taillon (2-1, 3.44)

Monday night --- RHP Jeremy Hellickson (7-7, 3.84) vs. LHP Wei-Yin Chen (5-4, 4.99)

Tuesday night --- RHP Jerad Eickhoff (6-11, 3.98) vs. RHP Tom Koehler (7-8, 4.42)

Wednesday afternoon --- RHP Zach Eflin (3-3, 3.40) vs. LHP Adam Conley (6-5, 3.58)

Former Flyers defenseman Luke Schenn signs 2-year deal with Coyotes

Former Flyers defenseman Luke Schenn signs 2-year deal with Coyotes

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Arizona Coyotes have signed former Flyers defenseman Luke Schenn to a two-year contract.

The 26-year-old defenseman had four goals and 12 assists in 72 games with the Flyers and Los Angeles Kings last season. Schenn and Vinny Lecavalier were traded by the Flyers to the Kings last January in exchange for Jordan Weal and a third-round draft pick in last month's entry draft.

In his career, Schenn has 28 goals and 100 assists in 566 games with the Kings, Flyers and Toronto Maple Leafs. In three-plus seasons with the Flyers, Schenn scored 12 goals and added 30 assists.

Schenn was the first-round draft pick - fifth selection overall - by the Maple Leafs in 2008.

Coyotes general manager John Chayka called Schenn "a good, young defenseman" who will be "a solid addition" to the Arizona blue line.

- CSNPhilly.com contributed to this story.