3/26/2014 5:59 P.M. ET
Lee optimistic about Phillies' chances this season
By Austin Laymance / MLB.com
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Cliff Lee has high expectations for the Phillies this season, even if that sentiment is not shared across baseball.
The Phillies are not favored to win the National League East, and few are predicting this club will be playing in October. But Lee, who will start Opening Day against the Rangers, understands expectations don't decide wins and losses.
"I don't care what people are expecting, I know what we expect and that's what matters," Lee said Wednesday after pitching five innings of one-run ball against the Tigers in his final Grapefruit League start. "Experts or whoever predict who's going to win what, they're never dead on. There's a reason why we play the games. At this point, we're all even. It's a matter of just taking care of one at a time.
"For us, we've got all the confidence in the world and expect to win and expect to win the division and get to the World Series and win that ultimately. That's what we're expecting to do. What people think and what people expect, they might be right, they might be wrong. Nobody really knows yet. We'll go play the games and see where it leads us."
The Phillies are coming off a disappointing 2013 season and have been crippled by injuries in recent years. Cole Hamels will start the season on the disabled list, but the rest of the club's key pieces are relatively healthy with Opening Day less than a week away. That gives Lee confidence.
"Our everyday guys are healthy," Lee said. "It's nice having [Ryan] Howard and Chase [Utley] and Jimmy [Rollins] and Ben [Revere]. All the guys over the past couple years that have been banged up a little bit. It's nice to have all of them healthy and going to start. Obviously, Cole being hurt is not good. But for the most part, we're healthy. That's been a big reason why we've had some failures in the last couple years.
"For them to be healthy is good. We've got a lot of guys that have done some special things and them being on the field gives them the best chance to do that. So I'm excited about that and I think if we just do what [manager Ryne Sandberg] and the coaching staff have been preaching to us all spring, just do the little things right and make sure we work hard and don't leave anything to chance, pound the strike zone and basic execution, we'll turn out pretty good."
Abreu will not make Phillies' Opening Day roster
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Bobby Abreu will not be on the Phillies Opening Day roster, the club announced on Wednesday.
Abreu showed value as a hitter, but his ability to play right field was a question mark throughout Spring Training. The veteran struggled in the field during Wednesday's Grapefruit League loss to the Tigers, misplaying two balls hit in his direction.
Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg did not seem thrilled with Abreu's defense.
"I wanted to see Bobby in right field today," Sandberg said. "I got a chance to see him."
The Phillies say they are still deciding between carrying eight relievers or six bench players on the Opening Day roster. The club does not need a fifth starter until April 13.
Backup catcher Wil Nieves is a lock to make the team, while outfielders Tony Gwynn Jr. and John Mayberry Jr. are good bets. Utility player Cesar Hernandez appears to have a good chance as well. Reid Brignac is another candidate.
"We have to determine what kind of bench we want and how we want to utilize the bench," Sandberg said. "A lot of times if you have a guy that can play some defense and get four at-bats to stay sharp and also give a day off, sometimes that's a necessity."
The Phillies lost four potential bench players in the last week. Darin Ruf is out 4-6 weeks with a strained oblique, Freddy Galvis is recovering from MRSA, Kevin Frandsen is now with the Nationals and Ronny Cedeno was released.
Abreu has not been released, though. He was in camp as a non-roster player on a Minor League deal. Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said Tuesday that they had mutually agreed to extend Abreu's opt-out date to Sunday, when Opening Day rosters are due. The Phillies originally had until Wednesday to make a decision on Abreu. They either had to place him on the 25-man roster or grant him his release, if requested.
"Bobby Abreu is still with the Phillies organization and he is currently weighing his options," Amaro said.
Phillies release right-handed reliever Stutes
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The Phillies have released reliever Michael Stutes, the club announced on Wednesday.
Stutes has battled shoulder injuries the past two seasons and was limited to 16 appearances in 2013. The right-hander was outrighted off the 40-man roster on March 11 and had been in Minor League camp.
This spring, the right-hander has allowed seven earned runs on five hits over three innings. He did not strike out a batter and walked three.
Stutes made an impact with the Phillies as a rookie in 2011, winning six games and posting a 3.63 ERA over 57 appearances. His fastball averaged 93 mph that season, but was sitting 88-89 this spring.
• The Rangers announced that right-hander Tanner Scheppers will start Opening Day against the Phillies on Monday. Scheppers, who replaced an injured Yu Darvish, will be making his first career Major League start. Left-handers Martin Perez and Robbie Ross will start the other two games of the series.
Cliff Lee will start for the Phillies on Opening Day in Arlington, followed by A.J. Burnett on Tuesday and Kyle Kendrick on Wednesday.
• Outfielder Domonic Brown was removed from Wednesday's game after three innings, the result of flu-like symptoms. Brown missed a week with the flu earlier this month but had returned to start the last five games.
"He wasn't feeling to well before the game," said manager Ryne Sandberg. "I was going to keep my eye on him."
Brown grounded out to third in his only at-bat. Tony Gwynn Jr. replaced him in left field.