Jerome Williams to Start Spring Opener


The Phillies announced the assignments for their pitching rotation as the spring schedule gets underway next week, and righty Jerome Williams gets the nod in the opener against the New York Yankees.

The Phils will open up their spring home schedule at Bright House Field in Clearwater, Florida against the Yanks next Tuesday with a 1:05pm start. It’s also the first of a home-n-home set with the Bronx Bombers, with the Phils making the short trip to Tampa the following day.

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For the remainder of the month of March, the Phillies will have just one off-day, that coming on Wednesday the 18th. Highlights of the schedule include the traditional St. Patrick’s Day game on Tuesday, March 17th and multiple dates with the Yanks (6), Blue Jays (4), Tigers (4), Rays (3), Pirates (3), Astros (2), Orioles (2), Red Sox (2), Twins (2) and a single game with the Braves.

Williams was picked up by the Phillies off waivers from the Texas Rangers last August and was a revelation. He went 4-2 over 9 starts with a 2.83 ERA and a 1.134 WHIP. He had a 38-17 K/BB rate and allowed just 48 hits over 57.1 innings. If the Phils get anything approximating that from the now 33-year old journeyman over a full season, they would have to be ecstatic.

Following Williams in the rotation will be Aaron Harang on Wednesday in Tampa vs the Yanks, followed by Cliff Lee on Thursday in Kissimmee vs the Astros, and then Cole Hamels on Friday back in Clearwater, again vs the Yanks, this time in a Phillies split-squad game. No assignments have been made beyond that point, though it’s a fair bet that David Buchanan will get a start next weekend.

The Phils will use a parade of youngsters to get through a scheduled exhibition two days from now. On Sunday in Clearwater, a team from the University of Tampa will take the field, with the Phillies scheduled to give their innings to Paul Clemens, Phillippe Aumont, Hector Neris, Nefi Ogando, Elvis Araujo and Andy Oliver.

The Phillies continue to dangle lefty aces Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee in trade talks, with the Boston Red Sox and San Diego Padres considered the front-runners to eventually land Hamels, if the Phils grand prize arm is dealt at all. Any deals would obviously toss the rotation plans into the shredder.

Stay right here at TBOH all spring long for the results of these games, as well as for analysis of any major news that develops during spring training. We’ll also continue with our great historical features, and make sure that you are ready for the regular season. It’s that time, Fightins’ fans – play ball!