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Nola eager to pitch in packed home ballpark

Phillies ace: 'All we've heard is how great it is with the atmosphere'
@ToddZolecki
March 10, 2019

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Phillies ace Aaron Nola has heard the stories about the rocking sellout crowds at Citizens Bank Park. Remember, Nola played briefly with Ryan Howard, Carlos Ruiz, Cole Hamels and Chase Utley in 2015 and ‘16. Nola said he has heard more of those stories recently from former

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Phillies ace Aaron Nola has heard the stories about the rocking sellout crowds at Citizens Bank Park.

Remember, Nola played briefly with Ryan Howard, Carlos Ruiz, Cole Hamels and Chase Utley in 2015 and ‘16. Nola said he has heard more of those stories recently from former Phillies like Jimmy Rollins and Kyle Kendrick, who have been in camp this spring as guest instructors.

“I would see it on TV, too,” Nola said after pitching three-plus innings Sunday in an 8-5 victory over the Orioles at Ed Smith Stadium. He allowed four hits and three runs. He struck out six.

Nola will get his first taste of that 2007-11 flavor on Opening Day, when he steps on the mound to face the Braves. It will be his second consecutive Opening Day start, but first at home.

“It was a packed house with Bryce [Harper] yesterday and I'm pretty sure with the hype already, it's going to be a packed house,” Nola said, referring to Harper’s Phillies debut on Saturday at Spectrum Field in Clearwater. “All we've heard is how great it is with the atmosphere. A full house, I'll most likely get to experience it first-hand.”

It was 82 degrees in Sarasota on Sunday. It figures to be much cooler than that on March 28 in Philadelphia.

The average high in Philadelphia on that date is 57 degrees, according to weather.com. Maybe Nola will get lucky.

“Maybe God will make it a hotter day,” Nola said.

Harper will be in right field Monday

Harper is expected to play right field and have two plate appearances Monday against the Rays at Spectrum Field.

He is also scheduled to travel to Tampa to play the Yankees on Wednesday night and to play the Blue Jays in Clearwater on Friday.

All of that is subject to change.

Injury updates

Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said Odúbel Herrera (strained left hamstring), Cesar Hernandez (strained right hip flexor) and Roman Quinn (strained right oblique) continue to progress. Herrera and Hernandez fielded ground balls Sunday morning at Spectrum Field.

Those two could appear in their first Grapefruit League games within the next five to 10 days.

“Both of those guys are progressing nicely,” Kapler said.

Quinn might be a little further out than Herrera and Hernandez, but Kapler said he is encouraged.

Right-hander Tommy Hunter played catch Saturday. He has not pitched this spring because of a strained flexor in his right arm. There is no timetable for his return.

Where’s David?

Phillies right-hander David Robertson has not appeared in a Grapefruit League game, but Kapler said he is close.

Robertson has been following a similar program as right-hander Pat Neshek, who made his first and only Grapefruit League appearance Thursday against the Yankees.

“They don’t need a whole lot of buildup,” Kapler said. “There’s a component of wanting to save their most effective bullets for the regular season. We’ve definitely gotten them their reps and their volume on the back field and in live batting practice sessions.”

Up next

Phillies right-hander Vince Velasquez (0-1, 9.00 ERA) faces Rays left-hander Blake Snell at 1:05 p.m. ET on Monday at Spectrum Field.

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook .