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Philadelphia Phillies spring training preview

The fifth spot: The front end of the rotation remains intact, with World Series MVP Cole Hamels, a much thinner Brett Myers and ageless Jamie Moyer. The big competition will be for the fifth spot, and there are several candidates in Kyle Kendrick, A.J. Happ, Chan Ho Park and prospect Carlos Carrasco. The conventional pick would be Kendrick, who went 8-3 with a 4.47 ERA in the first half of last season before struggling down the stretch.

Chasing Utley: He insists he'll be ready for opening day, but with the star second baseman coming off offseason hip surgery, he'll be watched closely. Utley, playing with the hip injury during the second half, still hit .292, so don't count him out.

The new guy: Of the very few new faces in camp, OF Raul Ibanez stands out. Ibanez, the club's biggest offseason acquisition, is expected to replace Pat Burrell, now with the Rays. It'll be interesting to see how he fits in and where he's put in the lineup.

Key additions: OF Ibanez, RHP Park, INF Marcus Giles, INF Miguel Cairo — Ibanez should add some pop, with Giles and Cairo competing for the final bench spot, one of camp's biggest battles.

Key departures: OF Burrell, 2B Tadahito Iguchi — Burrell left his mark in Philly in his decade there, including delivering a huge hit in Game 5 of the World Series to help beat the Rays.

Prospect to watch: INF Jason Donald. His versatility should be on display this camp, with his ability to play second, third and shortstop. Donald, 24, could compete for a bench spot.

Ticket info: From $11-$30, purchased online at phillies.com, in person at Bright House Field box office or by calling (215) 463-1000.

Philadelphia Phillies spring training preview 02/25/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 25, 2009 12:18am]
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