Phils think 'pen ranks among baseball's best

Phils think 'pen ranks among baseball's best

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The Phillies are in the beginning stages of a substantial rebuilding process. But they believe they could be extremely competitive in at least one area in 2015.

They believe they could have one of the better bullpens in baseball.

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Pettibone making progress in recovery

Pettibone making progress in recovery

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Phillies right-hander Jonathan Pettibone pitched pretty well in 18 starts in 2013.

But a right shoulder injury popped up that July, which has limited him to just seven starts and 35 1/3 innings at the Major League and Minor League levels since. He ultimately required surgery to repair the shoulder in June 2014, which has him behind schedule this spring.

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Plesac impressed with pitchers in Phils camp

MLB Network analyst serves as guest instructor, likes what he sees from Biddle

Plesac impressed with pitchers in Phils camp

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The last time Dan Plesac wore a baseball uniform he threw the final pitch for the Phillies at Veterans Stadium on Sept. 28, 2003.

He pulled on a uniform again this week at Bright House Field, where he worked with the Phillies as a guest instructor. Plesac, 53, still looks like he could strike out a hitter or two -- he posted a 2.70 ERA and averaged 10 strikeouts per nine innings in 58 appearances in his final season in 2003 -- but he came to camp to observe, coach and just get back on the field again.

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Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Lee to make first spring appearance Thursday

Phils lefty scheduled to throw two innings; Williams to start Tuesday's opener

Lee to make first spring appearance Thursday

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Any team in baseball that thinks it might need starting-pitching help this season might want to take a peek Thursday at the Phillies' Grapefruit League game against the Astros in Kissimmee.

Phillies left-hander Cliff Lee will pitch, which means he is not behind schedule in relation to other pitchers in camp. Lee finished last season on the disabled list with an injured left elbow, but there have been no issues this spring.

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Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Hollands rocking stirrups as part of new look

Hollands rocking stirrups as part of new look

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Before the Grapefruit League season opens Tuesday and Phillies players face real competition with real results that matter, reporters have asked Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg if anybody has stood out in camp.

Phillies left-hander Mario Hollands, 26, has stood out, but for more than his pitching.

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Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Prolific base-stealer Pierre retires after 14-year career

Outfielder, who played for six teams, is not ready to coach

Prolific base-stealer Pierre retires after 14-year career

JUPITER, Fla. -- Juan Pierre, the catalyst of the Marlins' 2003 World Series title team and one of the most prolific base-stealers of his generation, has announced his retirement. The 37-year-old speedster is walking away from the game after an impressive 14-year career.

Pierre, who lives in south Florida, is now a self-proclaimed "stay-at-home dad." He also isn't ready to accept a coaching position at this point.

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Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Herrera taking aim at spot on Opening Day roster

Rule 5 Draft pick in outfield mix after strong showing in winter ball

Herrera taking aim at spot on Opening Day roster

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Nearly every time a Rule 5 Draft pick enters Spring Training, somebody likes to mention Rule 5 success stories like Johan Santana, Dan Uggla, Shane Victorino and Joakim Soria. They are the best of the best.

There are many more times a Rule 5 pick does not survive camp and returns to his former team, or survives the entire season with his new team but fails to make a significant impact at the big league level. The Phillies hope Odubel Herrera, whom they drafted with the eighth overall pick in December's Rule 5 Draft, leans more toward Victorino (2004 pick) than Michael Martinez (2010 pick).

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Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Potential Pap suitors fewer after K-Rod signs with Crew

Potential Pap suitors fewer after K-Rod signs with Crew

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The Phillies can remove another potential landing spot for closer Jonathan Papelbon.

The Brewers and Francisco Rodriguez on Thursday agreed to a two-year, $13 million contract, effectively making him Milwaukee's closer this season.

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Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Sandberg impressed with Francoeur's intangibles

Phillies manager stressing easy swings for infielder Galvis

Sandberg impressed with Francoeur's intangibles

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Former Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said last week he hopes to help Jeff Francoeur's swing and get him back to the big leagues.

"Hopefully, we can get him back to where he was a few years ago," Manuel said.

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Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Phillies to add Burrell to club's Wall of Fame

Phillies to add Burrell to club's Wall of Fame

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The Phillies offered Pat Burrell a pretty sweet farewell from Philadelphia in 2008.

Burrell led the World Series championship parade down Broad Street. He then signed with the Tampa Bay Rays a short time later, ending his nine-year career with the Phillies. But the Phillies are bringing Burrell back to Citizens Bank Park on July 31 to induct the slugger onto the organization's Wall of Fame.

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Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Lee faces hitters for first time since July

Out final two months of 2014 season with elbow injury, Phils' ace not far behind others in camp

Lee faces hitters for first time since July

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Everything seems fine so far with Phillies left-hander Cliff Lee. He threw to hitters Wednesday morning at Carpenter Complex, the first time he had faced hitters since his 2014 season ended in July because of an injured left elbow. If Lee is behind schedule compared to other starters in camp, it does not appear to be much.

"Felt good, felt normal," Lee said. "No complaints."

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Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Sandberg encouraged by Howard's early work

Sandberg encouraged by Howard's early work

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Manager Ryne Sandberg seems to be impressed with how Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard has looked during the team's first two full-squad workouts at Carpenter Complex.

"Ryno looks like, his body looks like right now, he's going to allow himself to be more productive," Sandberg said Wednesday afternoon.

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Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Aumont, Hernandez among Phillies without Minors options

Club could risk losing bullpen hopeful, utility infielder candidate if they don't make team

Aumont, Hernandez among Phillies without Minors options

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Projecting the Phillies' Opening Day roster is an annual rite of spring. For that reason it is worth knowing the players in camp without options.

Options play a considerable role in a player's chances of making the 25-man roster. Players without options must clear waivers before they can be assigned to the Minor Leagues, so there is risk in losing the player altogether if he does not make the team.

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Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Sandberg, Amaro encourage Phillies to 'move forward'

Sandberg, Amaro encourage Phillies to 'move forward'

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The Phillies tried to set a tone Tuesday, when they held their first full-squad workout at Carpenter Complex.

But before that, Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. and manager Ryne Sandberg stood up in front of the players, coaching staff and team personnel to give their annual talks.

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Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

In Manuel Phillies' hitters still trust

In Manuel Phillies' hitters still trust

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Nobody credits Charlie Manuel more for his hitting success than Jim Thome.

Thome not only credits Manuel with improving his swing, but helping him believe he could be a successful hitter in the big leagues. Manuel made Thome feel good about himself, and Thome carried that confidence to the plate.

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Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Davis to serve as analyst in Phillies' booth

Davis to serve as analyst in Phillies' booth

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Ben Davis said Tuesday he could not pass up this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Davis has been named Jamie Moyer's replacement in the Phillies' broadcast booth on Comcast SportsNet. He will be a color analyst with Matt Stairs and Mike Schmidt. They join Tom McCarthy and Gregg Murphy on the TV team.

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Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Phillies were interested, had contacted Moncada's agent

Phillies were interested, had contacted Moncada's agent

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The Phillies, like just about every other big league club, could have used a talented prospect like Cuban infielder Yoan Moncada in their system.

The Phillies said they had interest, but how much is uncertain.

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Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Paul Hagen

Seeking baseball rebirth, Francoeur turns to Manuel

Seeking baseball rebirth, Francoeur turns to Manuel

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Some people just hit it off. Who knows why? It happens in life. It happens in baseball.

Jeff Francoeur quickly became a star after breaking in with the Braves in 2005. From the opposite dugout, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel liked what he saw. And understand this: Manuel appreciates good hitting the way oenophiles swoon over the nuances of a great wine and art experts will endlessly analyze every brushstroke of a Monet.

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Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Utley talks 'respect;' no plans to ask for trade

Veteran reaffirms position, but would listen if Phillies approached him about deal

Utley talks 'respect;' no plans to ask for trade

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Chase Utley has not changed his mind. Not yet anyway.

The veteran second baseman said Monday afternoon at Bright House Field that he still has no desire to waive his no-trade rights and play for anybody other than the Phillies. It has been a topic of conversation for months, especially since December when the Phils traded Jimmy Rollins to the Dodgers. Rollins said repeatedly for more than a year he had no desire to leave Philadelphia, but he heard the Phillies' front office talk about rebuilding for 2017 or '18 and decided he had a better chance to win a World Series elsewhere.

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Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Sandberg sees 'fresh year' for Howard

Sandberg sees 'fresh year' for Howard

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Ryan Howard appeared to be in fine spirits Monday afternoon at Bright House Field. He would not have been blamed for being morose.

Howard had an interesting offseason. He settled an ugly legal battle with his family. Howard not only learned the Phillies wanted to trade him to help their rebuilding efforts, but he heard general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. say on Philadelphia radio he told Howard they would be better without him.

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Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Brown downplays talk of make-or-break year

With future in Philly uncertain, former All-Star focused on winning, having fun

Brown downplays talk of make-or-break year

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- If Domonic Brown is concerned about his future in Philadelphia, he kept those thoughts to himself Monday at Bright House Field.

Brown will open the season as the Phillies' right fielder, but with plenty to prove following a poor 2014 campaign. He made the 2013 National League All-Star team, but hit just .235 with 10 home runs, 63 RBIs and a .634 OPS in 144 games last season. Brown's OPS ranked 139th out of 147 qualified hitters in baseball.

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Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Oft-injured Dugan sidelined with stress reaction

Phillies outfielder expects to wear walking boot on right foot for four or five days

Oft-injured Dugan sidelined with stress reaction

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Phillies outfielder Kelly Dugan cannot catch a break.

Dugan, who was selected by Philadelphia in the second round of the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, strolled through the Phillies' clubhouse Monday morning at Bright House Field with a walking boot on his right foot. He sustained a mild stress reaction while running sprints recently.

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Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Daulton cancer-free after two-year battle

Former Phillies All-Star catcher was diagnosed with glioblastoma in 2013

Daulton cancer-free after two-year battle

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Darren Daulton looked and sounded like himself Sunday morning at Bright House Field.

He looked tan. He smiled easily. He spoke optimistically about the future.

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Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Galvis ready to step up as everyday shortstop for Phillies

Club has not needed player in that position since Rollins debuted in 2001

Galvis ready to step up as everyday shortstop for Phillies

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Freddy Galvis swears he cannot remember the moment he heard the Phillies traded Jimmy Rollins.

It would seem to be a momentous occasion.

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Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Sandberg hopes to find right hitter for two-hole

Avoiding string of lefties atop lineup could factor into Phillies manager's decision

Sandberg hopes to find right hitter for two-hole

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The Phillies had one of the least productive offenses in baseball last year, and after trading Jimmy Rollins and Marlon Byrd in the offseason, things might not be any easier in 2015.

It is tough to figure out a lineup without Rollins and Byrd. It is early, but Ben Revere figures to hit first. Chase Utley and Ryan Howard could hit third and fourth, respectively. But if that holds true, who hits second?

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Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Despite time in left, Asche's immediate future at hot corner

Infielder expected to open season at third, but expanding versatility if Franco emerges

Despite time in left, Asche's immediate future at hot corner

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Much has been made this spring about Phillies third baseman Cody Asche working in left field.

Versatility defensively could help Asche in the future, especially if Maikel Franco fulfills his promise and the Phillies want him to be the regular at third. But while Asche is getting some work in left, manager Ryne Sandberg said Sunday it is unlikely Asche gets a lot of work there.

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Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Trade talks put Hamels in difficult position with Phillies

Lefty addresses situation in news conference and remains grateful to city, fans

Trade talks put Hamels in difficult position with Phillies

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Cole Hamels is stuck in the middle.

Hamels has said for months he does not want to spend the remaining prime years of his baseball career playing on a losing team. He sharpened his words Wednesday, when he told USA Today he wants to win and "and I know it's not going to happen here." He likely feels that way because the Phillies have said they are rebuilding and unlikely to compete again until 2017 or '18.

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Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.