Mailbag: Why start Myers in opener?

Mailbag: Why start Myers in opener?

What was the rationale for starting Brett Myers on Opening Day, given Cole Hamels' emergence as the team's ace last season?
-- Alex B., Yardley, Pa.

Naming Myers to start Opening Day was a mild upset over Hamels, who seemed to be the popular choice after a 15-win campaign the year before. The decision was more about Myers.

The Phillies essentially told their combustible pitcher to concentrate on starting, after spending most of last season as the team's closer. While Myers said he'll do whatever the team asks, he made no secret about how much he enjoyed pitching in relief.

His offer to close should Brad Lidge's injury sideline him for an extended period was the final straw.

Here's what pitching coach Rich Dubee said when asked about this last week:

"We wanted to free Brett's mind up. He talked about, if Lidge is down, he'd be the closer. I don't want Brett looking forward to being the closer. We want Brett preparing to start. He said he's more than willing to [close], but right now, the issue is that Brett is going to be our Opening Day starter."

Is Mike Schmidt still coaching somewhere in the Phillies organization? If so, what are his chances of landing a job on a big league club some day?
-- Andy B., Loysville, Pa.

Schmidt is in camp with the Phillies as a special hitting instructor -- his annual two-week visit to Clearwater. Schmidt has said he has no desire for any big league coaching gig.

What are the chances of moving Pat Burrell to right field and letting Geoff Jenkins cover left? Jenkins has more speed than Burrell.
-- Barry S., Tamaqua, Pa.

Zero. Burrell isn't going to become faster playing right field. Jenkins can play both, and the team prefers to leave Burrell in the spot where he feels most comfortable.

I was curious about the Phillies' decision not to pursue Freddy Garcia. Did they not believe that he will come back 100 percent from his injury, or was it more the money and contract length that he would have asked for, or something else?
-- Erik P., Johnson City, Tenn.

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All of the above. Really, what's there to be curious about? Garcia was hurt when he arrived and won one game for his $10 million salary. The righty will likely be out until at least June while he recovers from September shoulder surgery. There's no reason to bring him back.

Who backs up Shane Victorino in center field?
-- Keith G., Easton, Pa.

So Taguchi and Jayson Werth will find at-bats in center when Victorino needs a rest. Manager Charlie Manuel said he hopes Victorino can play at least 130 games, and has adequate backup plans. Werth and Taguchi have already seen time in center field in preparation.

After the Phillies signed Pedro Feliz, shouldn't they have traded or released Wes Helms? They also have Gregg Dobbs at third.
-- Jose A., Coatesville, Pa.

The team has every intention of resolving the situation with Helms. It's highly doubtful that he will be on the Opening Day roster.

Kyle Lohse is still looking for a team, and may have lowered his salary demands since no one has shown much interest in him. Any chance the Phillies will pursue him again?
-- Steve K., Sunbury, Pa.

The Lohse ship has sailed. The Phillies offered him three years and $21-million over the winter, and were rebuffed, so they went in another direction.

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