Outfielder's return sets up preview of Phillies' Opening Day lineup, with one catch

The spring training lineup against the Tigers is what we could be seeing on Opening Day in Philadelphia, thanks to the return of Brandon Marsh.

Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Brandon Marsh makes his spring training debut on Wednesday
Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Brandon Marsh makes his spring training debut on Wednesday / Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports
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UPDATE: The Phillies' original lineup versus the Detroit Tigers was changed with Kyle Schwarber scratched with groin tightness. He is considered day-to-day.

The Philadelphia Phillies have less than two weeks of spring training games remaining. On Wednesday, we’re finally going to see what could very well be manager Rob Thomson’s Opening Day lineup when the Phillies square off against the Detroit Tigers at BayCare Ballpark.

Most of the assumed Opening Day regulars have played back-to-back days at this point, but one name jumps out near the bottom of the lineup. Brandon Marsh will make his long-awaited Grapefruit League debut. Taking the next step in his recovery from arthroscopic knee surgery in February, the outfielder will bat eighth and play left field.

The rest of the lineup looks like it could be a sneak preview of the starting nine Thomson will trot out on March 28 against the Atlanta Braves at Citizens Bank Park. Well, almost.

Marsh's return is good news to Phillies fans, as Marsh may be called on for center field duty if Johan Rojas doesn't make the team out of camp. If all goes well, Rojas will be there in Philadelphia, but that’s still up in the air with his struggles getting results at the plate this spring. The other question mark is who will take the ball to open the 2024 season. Aaron Nola is slated to start against the Tigers today, but the decision of who will be the Phillies’ Opening Day starter hasn’t been made.

Nola has a case as the incumbent, with six straight Opening Days under his belt. The other option, Zack Wheeler, has a case as one of the top pitchers in the game. The newly extended right-hander has added a splitter to his arsenal this year, which looked sharp against the Yankees on Monday, per Alex Coffey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. The new offering will make him even tougher on hitters this season.

The one uncertainty around Thomson’s decision is whether Nola will even be with the team on Opening Day. His family is scheduled to have their first child around that time, and he may have taken himself out of the running already, according to MLB.com's Todd Zolecki.

“I think Wheels [Zack Wheeler] should take it,” Nola said, per Zolecki. “I think he’s earned it, man. That stuff’s great and all, but the baby is on the way. We’ll have to figure out when the little one is coming. It might be around that day.”

Either way, it will be exciting to see the full lineup in play with Opening Day right around the corner.

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