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Notes: Optimism across the board

Notes: Optimism across the board

PHILADELPHIA -- Phillies president Dave Montgomery didn't hesitate at the thought. He is more comfortable about this version of the Phillies than he has been about the previous five teams he had entering the season.

"I have two reasons for thinking that way," Montgomery said Friday, sitting in the Phillies dugout before the On-Deck Series game against the Red Sox at Citizens Bank Park. "For one, this team is among the strongest we've had over the last five years; it's a quality club that's ready to go. Secondly, we're coming off a nice winter as far as fan acceptance."

The Phillies have been in contention late in the season the past two years. The team won 85 games in 2006, finishing in second place in the National League East for the third straight time. The team has had a good run of success, winning 86, 88 and 85 games over the last three years.

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Despite trade rumors swirling about this team, Montgomery likes the chemistry of the 2007 Phillies. This could be the year Philadelphia reaches the postseason for the first time since 1993.

"There's a true confidence on this team," Montgomery said. "You hear about people walking around, feeling comfortable in their own skin. That's this team. These guys genuinely like each other. There's a real rapport they have with each other. This is a team that feels comfortable walking around in its own skin. The makeup of this team is a belief they have in each other. You don't always see that, but you do with this group. They genuinely believe that if someone gets down, there's always going to be someone there to pick them up."

But Montgomery didn't exactly rule out the possibility of a trade coming in the near future, either.

With general manager Pat Gillick, Montgomery points out, anything is possible to happen.

"There's always the possibility we can do some tinkering," Montgomery said. "With Pat, we could be 12 games up in mid-September and he'll be thinking of ways to make us better and improve. I like some of the changes we've made already this offseason. We added changes of a subtle variety that have both strengthened our bench and make us a deeper team. We feel we're going into this season with a deeper, more versatile bench. I do feel more comfortable with the team we have here now than I have with any of the previous four teams that were here."

Hamels battling homeritis: Starter Cole Hamels got roughed up by the Red Sox, surrendering five runs -- all on homers -- over six innings Friday night. The four homers gave Hamels a total of nine homers over 20 2/3 innings this spring.

"I was obviously happy it was another day that didn't count," Hamels said. "Tonight was a lot of testing the waters here and there. I wanted to focus on throwing strikes on both sides of the plate. I threw pitches in counts that I normally wouldn't do. I just need to pick up my game a little bit. I'm not too happy about [the home runs]. I was able to throw the curveball and changeup and got a good feel for them. My location was fine. I definitely feel prepared [for Wednesday's start against Atlanta]."

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Congrats, Shane: Fan-favorite Shane Victorino wasn't with the Phillies on Friday. He was away for the birth of his child.

Starting shuffle: The disabled list situation with Freddy Garcia and Jon Lieber may not have that big an effect on the Phils' rotation. Brett Myers is set to start in the home opener Monday against Atlanta, followed by Hamels on Wednesday and Adam Eaton closing the Atlanta series on Thursday. Jamie Moyer will go Friday at Florida, and Myers will come back on four days' rest on Saturday, with Garcia able to go Sunday, April 8.

"We'll make a decision about how many pitchers we'll go with after tomorrow -- either 11 or 12," manager Charlie Manuel said. "Garcia threw a 40-pitch side today and they say he threw pretty good."

Garcia is eligible to be reinstated on April 7.

A good April: It's imperative that the Phillies get off to a good start in 2007. The previous three Aprils had Philadelphia going 10-11 in 2004, and 10-14 in both '05 and '06. The Phillies began '06 at 0-4. You'd have to go back to '03 to find the last time the Phillies had a winning April, when they started 15-12. That was the only winning April Philadelphia has had in the last five years.

Injury update: The Phillies placed right-hander Freddy Garcia (right bicep tendinitis), right-hander Jon Lieber (right oblique strain) and catcher Ryan Buddle (left oblique strain) on the disabled list Friday. All three transactions are retroactive to March 23, with Garcia, Lieber and Buddle all eligible to be reinstated Saturday on April 7.

Coming up: Eaton will go up against Daisuke Matsuzaka on Saturday in the second game of the On-Deck Series at Citizens Bank Park. The start time is 1:05 p.m. ET. Eaton enters the game with an 0-2 mark this spring, with a 6.06 ERA in 16 1/3 innings. In his most recent start Saturday, against Cincinnati, Eaton was rocked, surrendering eight hits, five runs, two homers and three walks over 4 2/3 innings. Eaton did strike out three.

Joseph Santoliquito is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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