15 Sep 2014
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Pitchers, Catchers Reporting a Sure Sign of Spring

Philadelphia Phillies' pitchers and catchers report to Clearwater to start spring training in Florida on Wednesday.

Pitchers, Catchers Reporting a Sure Sign of Spring Pitchers, Catchers Reporting a Sure Sign of Spring Pitchers, Catchers Reporting a Sure Sign of Spring Pitchers, Catchers Reporting a Sure Sign of Spring

This news for sports fans beats news that any groundhog could deliver.

It's the sound of a baseball pounding a catcher's mitt with a solid thud that makes most of us feel warmer than any sunny day.

On Wednesday, hope springs eternal when pitchers and catchers report to camp in Clearwater, Fla., for the start of spring training.

After a dismal season last year, it's time to wipe the slate clean for Manager Charlie Manuel and company. Every team in Major League Baseball gets a new lease on life.

And the Phillies could certainly use one after not making the playoffs for the first time in a half-dozen years.

This spring training will be very interesting.

There are so many questions for a team that didn't do as much as its competitors to bolster its team during the off-season:

  • Can Chase Utley and Ryan Howard return to All-Star form after major injuries that limited their action last year?
  • Is Roy Halliday still among the top pitchers in baseball after a season marred by injuries?
  • Will Cliff Lee ever return to form as the stud pitcher he was when the Phillies acquired him?
  • How will Ben Revere, a light-hitting centerfielder, make up for the play of the departed Shane Victorino?
  • Who will emerge in the corner outfield positions from the tandem of Dominic Brown, Delmon Young, Lance Nix, John Mayberry Jr. Darrin Ruf and Delmon Young?
  • Can Eric Kratz hold down the fort at catcher until Carlos Ruiz returns from his 25-game drug ban?
  • Will aging newcomer Michael Young be able to handle the hot corner or break down the way Placido Polanco did?
  • How much must Jimmy Rollins step up to lead the team back to playoff contention?

Yes, all of these are questions we Phillies fans will fathom for some time over the rest of February and well into March before the season begins on April 5.

But after a gloomy Philadelphia Eagles season, a dismal Philadelphia 76ers campaign and a slow start by the struggling Philadelphia Flyers, baseball might be the cure all for our winter blues.

Just the thought of spring training is enough to make us hopeful for now.

Spring is coming. And it starts Wednesday.

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