Phillies make Cole Hamels their No. 4 starter


It was a given that Roy Halladay would start on Opening Day and be followed by Cliff Lee in the Phillies rotation. Baseball’s best No. 3 starter won’t go in game three, however.

The Phillies announced today that Cole Hamels would be held back to start their fourth game, which is also their home opener. Vance Worley will slot in between Lee and Hamels in the rotation.

“Cole has had more experience,” pitching coach Rich Dubee said. “Hell, he’s pitched in the World Series. The big flag is out there. Not that Vance can’t handle it, but it’s a little bit of a hectic day. Any of our guys deserve to pitch the home opener or the opener of the season. This way it lines up where Cole gets it. It splits our lefties. It doesn’t put Vance in that situation. Cole is more accustomed to pitching with a lot of hoopla around.”

Joe Blanton will serve as the Phillies’ fifth starter, but he’s not expected to get a turn the first time through due to off days.

Ryan Zimmerman’s spring training has been . . . weird

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Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman has played in exactly one Grapefruit league game this year, and that was way back on March 2. Since then he has been totally absent from the Nats’ big league spring games, playing instead on the back fields in sim games and in minor league contests.

While that’s not an unusual course of action for an injured or rehabbing player, both Zimmerman and the Nationals insist that there is nothing wrong with him. Per this report from MASN’s Mark Zuckerman, they’re saying that Zimmerman “simply prefers to get his work done in the more controlled environment of minor league games, where the rules are lax.” He doesn’t have to dive for balls, he can lead off every inning, etc. Manager Dave Martinez says Zimmerman simply doesn’t like the usual spring training grind and that this is working for him so he’s fine with it too.

Are you buyin’ that? Not sure I’m buyin’ that.

I suppose weirder things have happened. The Minnesota Twins once let Jack Morris go back to his farm in between starts rather than stay with the club. Other accommodations have been made for veterans, especially in spring training. But this is way more in keeping with a team hiding an injury. Though I have no idea why the Nats would choose to hide an injury to Zimmerman. They’ve talked at length about Daniel Murphy‘s knees and Adam Eaton‘s seemingly never-ending rehab. If Zimmerman has some aches and pains, you’d think they’d talk about it.

On the other hand, if this is a legit story and it is simply an accommodation for a veteran who doesn’t like the normal spring training grind, look for Zimmerman to be a trailblazer, because there are a LOT of dudes who hate spring training too and would love to change things up like this.