The Phillies (0-0-1) take to the road, heading over to George Steinbrenner Field in Tampa to take on the host New York Yankees for a 2nd straight day. The Phils and Yanks battled to a 5-5 tie in yesterday’s Grapefruit League opener for both teams.
The big story entering this game is the spring training debut of Alex Rodriguez. Suspended for all of the 2014 season following the MLB investigation of the Biogenesis case, ARod did not make the trip for yesterday’s game at Bright House Field.
As reported by Bryan Hoch at MLB.com, Rodriguez stated: “I’ll be a little nervous, for sure. I haven’t been in front of our fans for a long time. I’m excited about that. I have some challenges ahead.”
It is expected that the Yankees will use Rodriguez at a mixture of 3rd base, 1st base, and Designated Hitter this season. New York signed Chase Headley as a free agent to become their new 3rd baseman in the off-season and already have veteran Mark Teixiera as their 1st baseman.
Unlike Tuesday’s action in Clearwater, when the Yanks challenged the Phils with only outfielders Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner from their regular projected starting lineup, today’s New York batting order loads up with all of their regulars other than those two.
ARod will serve as the DH in this game, and bat out of the 2-hole in the order. He will be followed in the 3-5 slots by Brian McCann, Teixiera, and Headley. The Yanks will also feature their newly acquired middle infield of slick-fielding shortstop Didi Gregorius and veteran 2nd baseman Stephen Drew.
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For the Phils, Ryan Howard was yesterday’s feel-good story, and will be back in the cleanup slot, this time serving as the DH. Both Maikel Franco and Darin Ruf will see their first Grapefruit League action playing on the infield corners.
PROJECTED PITCHING MATCHUP
STARTERS: KEVIN SLOWEY, PH (0-0) vs NATHAN EOVALDI, NYY (0-0)
Slowey is a control pitcher who was signed by the Phillies in the off-season as veteran depth for the rotation in case of injury, or possibly to off-set any losses that may be caused if Cliff Lee and/or Cole Hamels are traded. A 2nd round Amateur Draft selection by Minnesota in 2005, he has a 43-36 career record in 106 starts (137 games) across parts of 7 big league seasons with the Twins and Marlins. He has allowed 765 hits in 662 innings, with a 495-111 K/BB ratio. Barring major spring injuries or trades, he is ticketed for the AAA-Lehigh Valley rotation to start the regular season.