Ranger Suárez announces the Phillies are back by ringing the bell for the Sixers

A quartet of Phillies players announced to the city that the team is back at Wednesday's Sixers game.

Philadelphia Phillies Photo Day
Philadelphia Phillies Photo Day / Kevin C. Cox/GettyImages
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Philadelphia Phillies fans were forced to painfully wait an additional 24 hours for the Opening Day matchup against the rival Atlanta Braves, as Thursday's game was postponed until Friday afternoon due to the threat of rain in the Philadelphia area. Waiting is always tough, but Citizens Bank Park promises to be electric all weekend long as Phillies fans welcome baseball back into their everyday lives.

The pre-game festivities at the ballpark will reportedly include some very special guests on Saturday as recently retired Philadelphia Eagles stars Jason Kelce and Fletcher Cox will throw out the ceremonial first pitch on Saturday prior to the start of Game 2 of the Phillies series against the Braves.

But on Wednesday night, it was four members of the 2024 Phillies team who were honored as special guests. Making an appearance across the street at Wells Fargo Center to ring the ceremonial bell before the Philadelphia 76ers tipped off against the Los Angeles Clippers, Ranger Suárez, Yunior Marte, Johan Rojas, and Cristian Pache were greeted by Sixers fans with a rousing ovation as they entered center court. X user Spencer McKercher posted a video of Suárez rocking an Allen Iverson jersey before ringing the bell.

Ranger Suárez was recently named the third starter in the Phillies rotation when Rob Thomson unveiled plans for who will start the first games of the season. Suárez will take the mound against the Braves on Sunday when he faces fellow lefty Chris Sale in the final game of the series at 1:35 p.m. ET.

The Phillies will face tough left-handed pitching this weekend

The much-publicized outfield competition that took place in spring training is now in the rearview mirror, but Thomson will face his first lineup challenges this weekend when the Phillies face Braves left-handed starters Max Fried on Saturday and Chris Sale on Sunday.

It will be curious to see how Thomson handles his left-handed hitters, such as Brandon Marsh and Bryson Stott, during Saturday and Sunday's games. We could see both hitters take a seat to give right-handed bench bats like Whit Merrifield and Cristian Pache a start to face Fried and Sale. If that's Thomson's move, it's possible he rotates who sits in each of the two games.

It sounds like Thomson will get Merrifield in the lineup this weekend. According to Scott Lauber of The Philadelphia Inquirer, Merrifield will see action in both games against the Braves lefties.

It's an interesting first challenge for Thomson and the 2024 Phillies as they will be forced to decide between penciling in their everyday lineup, and perhaps sacrificing offense without one or both of Marsh or Stott during each game. Johan Rojas's tough spring numbers could lead to some doubt about how practical it would be to trot out a potentially weakened lineup against the two-time NL East Division Champion Braves. Thomson will likely reveal his plans for Saturday and Sunday's lineup after tomorrow's game.

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