New Day Dawning

Those Philly boo birds: Oh where, oh where have they gone? — Ron Costello

Phillies — Comeback Team of the Year

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Can he still close?

Can he still close?

Opening Day should be a national holiday.

Like life, baseball rolls on — win or lose.

The Phillies —  themselves rolling on and  back home for Tuesday’s opener  — are 3-3. Could be better, but I’ll take it. I’m still picking them to win the East.

On Sunday’s loss to the Cubs, they looked like a fourth place team. Wait, that’s exactly where they are, fourth place in the NL East.

Two mistakes cost them Sunday’s game at Wrigley Field. One by Ben Revere, who let a line drive skyrocket off the tip of his glove — a little league mistake — and the other, this one mental, when Jimmy Rollins could have easily stepped on second but didn’t. Runs scored following both miscues. They lost 8-3.

On opening day this team is a comeback team, in every way shape and form. Here’s why.

Can the Big Piece come back?

Can the Big Piece come back?

Chase Utley: has come back from patella tendonitis, caused by playing too much. He’s fought his way back and lately looks like the Utley of old. If the knees hold up and he can drive the ball, he’ll be dangerous.

Ryan Howard: has come back from serious knee surgery and a ruptured Achilles tendon. He’s under heavy criticism from fans who say he’s washed up and the Phillies made a  huge mistake signing him to a fat contact. He’s started the season like the Piece of old.

Jimmy Rollins: back from a calf strain in 2010 and spring training accusations that he isn’t a team player. Coming off a poor 2013 season, the worst of his career, he’s got to prove he can still lead the team and hit.

Marlon Bryd: after busted for testing positive for a banned substance in 2012 — that cost him 50 games and nearly ended his career —  he came back, had a solid 2013 season, and was awarded a two year, $16 million contract by the Phillies. He’s got to prove the gamble was smart.

Carlos Ruiz: after having a career season in 2012, he began a 25 game suspension at the start of 2013, then suffered a hamstring strain and finished with poor numbers. He signed a three year, $26 million contact, including a $4.5 team option for the 2017 season. Chooch is coming back to prove he can stay healthy and once again post good numbers.

Dominic Brown:  put up stunning numbers last season before cooling down in the second half. Brown must prove he’s the real deal.

Ben Revere: was parked in the garage the second half of last season with a broken ankle. But he’s back to prove that he is the defensive centerfielder and lead off hitter the Phillies need. Minus  Sunday’s ugly error, he’s off to a good start.

Is D-Brown for real?

Is D-Brown for real?

Cody Ashe: also off to a good start, but he can hear the footsteps of 21 year-old Maikel Franco right behind him. Franco, a “can’t miss prospect,” needed more grooming at Lehigh Valley. Ashe’s got to prove he and he alone is number one at the hot corner — not Franco.

Darrin Ruf:  currently on the DL with an oblique injury, suffered 11 days before the season opener. He must come back to prove that he belongs in the Phillies outfield and can drive in runs.

John Mayberry, Jr.: after signing a $1.5 million contract, must come back to prove that the best trade is the one you don’t make. So far so good.

The ‘young guns’ of the Phillies bullpen: Antonio Bastardo, Jake Diekman, B.J. Rosenberg, Justin De Fratus, and  rookie Mario Hollands, must come back to prove they are the present and future of the Phillies bullpen. So far so good.

Cole Hamels and Mike Adams — still on their way to coming back.

Jonathan Papelbon: ah yes, lest we not forget Pap.  He’s got to prove — to the Phillies faithful and to himself —  he can still close. After a nasty blown save and a save, it’s too soon to tell.

The individual pieces make up the team. Each piece — each player —  has to step up and perform in order for the team to succeed.

But that’s baseball, isn’t it? Enjoy Opening Day.


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