Joe Blanton kind of looks like he could be your neighbor. He lacks the rugged handsomeitude of Cliff Lee, seems to have missed out on the robot-like efficiency of Roy Halladay and can not hold a candle to the marrying a girl from a reality show ability of Kyle Kendrick/Cole Hamels.
What he does have is a home run in the World Series to go with his world championship ring.
He was limited to eleven appearances last season with an injured elbow that was often described as cranky. Leave it to a guy from Kentucky to have medical professionals describe an injury serious enough to keep him off the mound as “cranky.”
He has been pitching pain-free for a while now and he is the front runner to be the fifth starter for the Phillies. He had the same job last year; remember all those press conferences where he had to sit with four guys who were obviously superior to him?
Joe made his first start since last May and did exactly what he needs to do to remain successful. He kept the ball down in the zone forcing the Yankees to keep the ball on the ground. Blanton induced five ground ball outs and produced enough sweat to cool three normal sized men in his two innings of work. He also accomplished the most important feat that can be realized in spring training; he avoided injury.
The Yankees countered with one of their big offseason acquisitions in the person of former Mariner Michael Pineda. The Yankees upgraded their rotation by jettisoning A.J. Burnett and adding Pineda and Hiroki Kuroda. Pineda is a big right hander with a nasty slider and an intimidating/jaunty manner of wearing his hat. He looked sort of like you would expect. Two strikeouts in two innings.
After Blanton and Pineda came the slew of middle relief/guys who will not make the major league roster. This will not be the arena in which I regale you with the exploits of Brian Sanches. In summation, he is not very good.
Jimmy Rollins started and went 2-2 with two stolen bases and Placido Polanco made his spring debut by going 2-3 with an RBI. Hunter Pence did not hit a home run, but Michael Martinez managed to atone for his defensive lapses yesterday by going deep. Hector Luna drove in three runs as the Phillies won the game 9-3.
Next up the Phillies send Cliff Lee to face the Toronto Blue Jays.