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Ugh. Just listening to the Phillies / Blue Jays game on the radio and the Phils were down 9-1 (after three innings) and going to a pitching change. Ooof! Kyle Kendrick gave up six earned runs in two innings and John Ennis followed that by giving up 3 earned runs, waking two and plunking Scott Rolen. Brutal. Let's hope the Phils leave this stuff in Clearwater come April.
On the plus side, Ryan Howard homered...and that's about it.
There were two interesting things discussed during the broadcast. One had to do with Rolen and the other with pitcher Kris Benson.
Scott Rolen first.
He was a great young player with a good bat and an incredible glove. He just went out and played good baseball and didn't make a scene. He left that to other players. I just wish that Larry Bowa had just left him alone.
Then, with a good deal of acrimony left behind, he went to St. Louis during the 2002 season and went on to win a World Series ring. To me, this was quite a blow because it was all over the local media that he was unhappy. The inevitability of it left an empty feeling hanging in the air. And it followed on the heels of Curt Schilling's 2000 departure and eventual World Series ring. Again, the departure was with plenty of acrimony.
Philadelphia was a pretty grim place for a few years entering Y2K. It didn't help that the baseball team's two best players were gone shortly after the decade began.
There was no Chase Utley or Ryan Howard or Cole Hamels at that time. Sure, we had Pat Burrell and Jimmy Rollins, but that didn't make up for the loss of Rolen. Placido Polanco was pretty good, but then the Phils traded him to Detroit in 2005. All he's done since then is become a great hitter and play in a World Series.
All I'm saying is that I enjoyed watching Scott Rolen play baseball here. He even said (around the time of signing with the Jays) that if things had worked out, he'd have signed with the Phils. That would be cool. What an infield - Rolen, Rollins, Utley and Howard???
But it didn't work out that way. I will look out for Rolen when the Phillies play the Blue Jays, as I did when the Phils played St. Louis. And for every uncatchable ball that he scoops up...I'll remember a time when he did that in red pinstripes.
Kris Benson now. They mentioned that he might be ready to pitch in a game and face major league hitters next week. This after a positive minor league outing. This is good news. With the pratfall of Adam Eaton and the overall inconsistency of Phillies pitching in the past few seasons, a stabalizing force would be welcome.
I normally don't pay much attention to spring training baseball, so I may just go and put my head in the sand until April and let the Phillies management sort things out. But I look forward to regular season baseball in general and seeing the Phillies in action in 2008 in particular.
Some parts of this article were originally Posted on southjersey-stillers-phillies.blogspot.com on February 25th.