01/31/2003 7:09 pm ET
Phillies Spring Training rundown
New additions generate high expectations
By Ken Mandel / MLB.com
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Jack Russell Memorial Stadium
2002 Hitting leaders
(min. 200 at-bats)
80-81, third in NL East
Avg: Bobby Abreu, .308
OBP: Abreu, .413
SLG: Pat Burrell, .544
Runs: Abreu, 102
RBIs: Burrell, 116
Hits: Abreu, 176
2B: Abreu, 50
3B: Jimmy Rollins, 10
HR: Burrell, 37
SB: Rollins, Abreu 31
2002 Pitching leaders
(min. 30 IP)
IP: Randy Wolf, 210 2/3
W: Vicente Padilla, 14
L: Padilla, 11
Win %: Padilla, 14-11, .560
S: Jose Mesa, 45
ERA: Mesa, 2.97
K: Wolf, 172
K/9: Brandon Duckworth, 9.22
WHIP: Wolf, 1.12
Projected starting lineup
SS Jimmy Rollins
2B Placido Polanco
1B Jim Thome
LF Pat Burrell
RF Bobby Abreu
C Mike Lieberthal
3B David Bell
CF Marlon Byrd
1. Kevin Millwood
2. Randy Wolf
3. Vicente Padilla
4. Brett Myers
5. Brandon Duckworth/Joe Roa/Hector Mercado
LH setup man: Rheal Cormier/Dan Plesac
RH setup man: Terry Adams/Turk Wendell
Closer: Jose Mesa
Spring Cleaning: Five questions that need to be answered
2. Can Jimmy Rollins hack it at the top of the order?
1. Will it be Thome, Burrell, Abreu OR Abreu, Burrell, Thome?
Manager Larry Bowa will experiment during exhibition games, but the feeling here is that it will be the former. Both combinations will produce, but Bowa is a big proponent of guaranteeing that a team's best hitter bat in the first inning. And why wouldn't any manager want a man with 334 career homers getting a chance in each opening frame?
Or rather, can he stop hacking at the top? His on-base percentage slipped to .304 last season, from .323 in 2001. An encouraging sign was his slight increase in walks in fewer at-bats, though his batting average dipped 29 points. Offseason instruction with future Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn, and an increased emphasis on keeping the ball on the ground should help Rollins set the tone for the big bats. If he doesn't, the Phillies could see more than their share of solo homers. Placido Polanco, penciled in as the No. 2 hitter, got on base more frequently with the Phillies, has said he plans to be more selective this season.
3. How will the starting rotation settle out?
The top three are set with Millwood, Wolf and Padilla, and Duckworth and Myers appear to have the inside track on the final two spots. Bowa loves both of their potential, but says Joe Roa, Hector Mercado and Eric Junge will be considered should Duckworth or Myers fail. New pitching coach Joe Kerrigan has ranked both high on his list of priorities.
4. How will Jose Mesa spell relief?
At times last season, Mesa spelled it S-H-A-K-Y as his nine blown saves, six losses and various sticky situations will attest. He was scored on in 20 of his 74 appearances, with his two shakiest outings coming on back-to-back days at Shea Stadium in July. He also set the single-season club record with 44 saves -- breaking Mitch Williams' 43 in 1993 -- and has 87 in his two seasons in Phillies pinstripes. He's also the only Phillie to collect two straight 40-save seasons. Mesa, 37, is the hardest working Phillie. His exhaustive workouts have many of the younger players in awe and have contributed to his sustained mid-90s velocity. Fans can expect more heart-fluttering when Mesa enters the game, but he'll never say "no" when offered the ball, a high-ranking quality on Bowa's list of attributes.
5. Is Marlon Byrd ready?
The organization certainly thinks so, anointing him the starter in center field. Byrd arrived in Philadelphia after hitting .297 with 15 homers and 37 doubles for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. The muscular 25-year-old, who smacked his first Major League homer on Sept. 12, has lost 25 pounds this offseason and has also spent time learning from Gwynn. Bowa stressed the importance of not putting too much pressure on the kid; Byrd likely will bat eighth in the powerful order. A .250 average, homers in the teens and solid defense should please the organization.
New faces: Players acquired via trade or free agency
1B Jim Thome -- What more can be said? It isn't often a team can add a premier run producer like Thome to an already strong lineup. He's a huge upgrade from Travis Lee and there's no reason to think he won't be a premier attraction in the National League.
3B David Bell -- Another proven winner, Bell has been to the postseason three straight years, including playing on the World Series runner-up last season. His defense at third isn't Rolen-esque, but it's well above average. His signing actually improved two positions, as it allowed Placido Polanco to upgrade the second base spot from Marlon Anderson.
RHP Kevin Millwood -- Arguably the Braves' best pitcher last season, Millwood brings No. 1 stuff to a team in need of one. Randy Wolf could've handled the role, but Millwood has already done it. He rebounded from shoulder problems that shortened his 2001 season and blistered his way to an 18-win season and a 3.24 ERA.
INF Tyler Houston -- Houston replaces Jeremy Giambi on the bench and offers a better fielding alternative should Bowa need one. A left-handed veteran with solid power, Houston can also catch and play outfield in a pinch.
RHP Josh Hancock -- He arrived for Giambi and shouldn't figure into the Phillies' plans this season. His live arm will likely help at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Doug Glanville -- The center fielder bolted for Texas and a chance for more playing time. The Phillies wanted Glanville back as an insurance policy on Byrd, but the 32-year-old wasn't ready for part-time status.
Jeremy Giambi -- The younger brother of Jason Giambi, Jeremy was excited for a chance to play in Boston. He has been working out feverishly and expects to see a lot of time at designated hitter and first base.
Travis Lee -- Lee's days in Philadelphia ended the minute Thome signed. His departure leaves Vicente Padilla as the only piece remaining from the four-player deal for Curt Schilling. Still unemployed.
Marlon Anderson -- Anderson's NL-leading 20 errors and overall defensive play wore heavily on Bowa, a superb fielder. With Tampa Bay he will play other positions as well.
Ricky Bottalico -- Shoulder troubles shut him down by June and he signed a minor league deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Robert Person -- The de-facto ace of the 2001 season, Person experienced shoulder and elbow problems almost from the beginning. He went 4-5 in 16 starts before landing on the disabled list and later had surgery to fix a small tear in his pitching shoulder. The Phillies' Opening Day starter in 2002 is still looking for a job.
Returning from injury
RHP Turk Wendell -- He missed the 2002 season with elbow tendinitis that eventually required surgery. If healthy, he will be counted on to pair with Terry Adams as the main setup for closer Jose Mesa. In stints with the Cubs and Mets, Wendell was one of the best.
LHP Bud Smith -- Smith hasn't been the same since his 134-pitch no-hitter in September 2001. He was traded to Philadelphia in the Scott Rolen deal and wound up having surgery to fix a torn labrum. He's expected to miss at least the first month of the season. A crowded rotation will likely keep him at Triple-A Scranton.
RHP David Coggin -- Coggin found a rhythm in the bullpen that included a string of 20 scoreless innings before shoulder trouble ended his season in September. He's expected to be about a month behind in his recovery and may not pitch until late May or June.
New kids on the block: Prospects to watch
OF Marlon Byrd -- The center fielder's job is his to lose this spring, and he looks to stick. He's fit, powerful, and excited to be in a Major League lineup. The Phillies let Doug Glanville leave as a free agent, further blasting the door open for Byrd.
RHP Brett Myers -- He pitched 72 largely inconsistent innings in 2002, but dominated enough to excite fans and management. He has got dibs on the fourth or fifth spot in the rotation, and is thrilled about working with Joe Kerrigan.
On the rebound
C Mike Lieberthal -- He played a full season in 2002 -- contributing with 15 homers and 52 RBIs -- but still felt some effects of the knee injury that limited him to 34 games in 2001. He hurt his knee stepping out of a golf cart this offseason and it required surgery. He said that was a blessing in disguise, since it had begun to hurt at the end of the season and getting it cleaned out "really helped."
The bottom line
The lineup is set. The rotation is set. The bullpen will be decided. Bowa's young club added three key veterans this offseason and needs to use these six weeks to learn how to play together for the long season. Count on Thome and Bell to show their winning attitude over 162 games and Millwood to do the same with the pitching staff.
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.