Philadelphia PhilliesManager: Ryne Sandberg
Stadium: Citizens Bank Park
2008 Record: 92-70 (1st in NL East)
Team Page | Roster | Schedule
-- Tim Kurkjian
HITTER TO WATCH:
Jason Donald is blocked in the majors by Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins, but any delay in Utley's recovery from hip surgery would give Donald the opening to prove he can play every day in the middle infield.
PITCHER TO WATCH:
Carlos Carrasco has iffy command of an above-average fastball and average changeup and pitched extremely well in a Triple-A callup last August.
-- Keith Law, Scouts Inc.
Is Ryan Howard the best first baseman in the National League? Do the Phillies have the best starting lineup? Will Brad Lidge remain at the top of the head among NL closers? Register your vote.
Brett Myers hasn't had a normal season since 2006, when he approached 200 strikeouts. Since then he's closed and been demoted to the minors, but he's an Opening Day starter yet again, and in a contract year. Expect this bulldog to make 32 starts and flirt with career-best numbers.
Brad Lidge was perfect in save chances in 2008, regular season and playoffs combined. No matter how well he pitches, there's likely to be some regression in his numbers. Save totals always fluctuate, and while Lidge should be strong again, don't count on another sub-2.00 ERA and only two home runs allowed.
-- Eric Karabell
INJURY TO WATCH
Much was made of Chase Utley's offseason hip surgery and how far into the 2009 season it would be before he could return. Well, surprise, surprise. Utley has been a model patient, working diligently to exceed his rehab targets while being mindful not to overdo it and create a potential setback. Utley has clearly demonstrated his readiness to return by not only offensively hitting for power this spring, but also defensively by sliding, throwing hard across his body and even diving for balls without hesitation. Manager Charlie Manuel has already proclaimed Utley a member of the Opening Day lineup and he will continue to be a regular fixture thereafter.
-- Stephania Bell
PRESEASON POWER RANKINGS
No. 4 overall
No. 3 overall
No. 3 overall
No. 13 overall
No. 6 overall