PHILADELPHIA -- Perhaps at some point this year, the Phillies will have Citizens Bank Park nearly filled with fans.
But first things first, they must get through Spring Training. Phillies pitchers and catchers held their first workout in Clearwater, Fla., on Wednesday. The team left Clearwater last March, when the world shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Life has not returned to normal, but things slowly seem to be moving in that direction.
Here is a Spring Training FAQ for Phillies fans interested in following the action in Florida:
What's the new name of the spring ballpark?
The Phillies will play their home games at BayCare Ballpark, as the ballpark has undergone its third name change since it opened as Bright House Networks Field in 2004. After it shortened its name to Bright House Field in '13, it became Spectrum Field in '17.
How will Spring Training be different this year because of the pandemic?
The Phillies will allow 2,200 fans per game at the ballpark, which seats 8,500, plus standing-room and berm-seating tickets.
Tickets go on sale Friday at Phillies.com, and they will be sold in “seating pod allotments of two, three or four per transaction.” Pods will be spaced at least six feet apart with markers reminding fans to keep their distance. Fans 2 years and older must wear face coverings over their nose and mouth while on ballpark property, except when eating or drinking, the Phillies said.
Anything else to know about going to games?
Concession stands will be open. They will have social-distancing markers and plexiglass dividers. Hand-sanitizer stations will be available throughout the ballpark.
No autographs will be permitted.
Fans will not be permitted to watch workouts at Carpenter Complex.
What are the key roster battles to watch?
There are three key battles this spring:
1. Center field: Roman Quinn, Adam Haseley, Scott Kingery and Odúbel Herrera are competing for playing time in center field. Herrera is part of the Phillies’ minicamp, but if he shows enough early on, he could find himself in the mix. And if Herrera does that, he could quickly establish himself as the favorite for the job.
2. The rotation: The fourth and fifth jobs are available. Chase Anderson, Matt Moore, Vince Velasquez and Spencer Howard are the top candidates.
3. The bullpen: The Phillies had one of the worst bullpens in baseball history last season, so anybody that pitches well should have a shot at a job.
Who are some of the top prospects to watch?
Spencer Howard still has his prospect status, ranked No. 42 in baseball, according to MLB Pipeline. He will be in camp, competing with right-handers Chase Anderson and Vince Velasquez and left-hander Matt Moore for a job in the rotation. Shortstop Bryson Stott was the team’s first-round pick in the 2019 Draft. Stott will get another opportunity to showcase himself, although he probably is a year away from playing regularly for the Phillies. Right-hander Francisco Morales is one of the organization’s top pitching prospects. He was added to the 40-man roster in December to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft. He also is probably a year away from competing for a job. Other top prospects in camp include right-hander Adonis Medina; left-handers Kyle Dohy and Damon Jones; catcher Rafael Marchan; infielder Nick Maton; and outfielder Simon Muzziotti.
How can fans watch or listen to Grapefruit League games?
NBC Sports Philadelphia has not announced its spring broadcasting schedule. 94 WIP has not announced which games it will broadcast, either. But the early word is that NBC Sports Philadelphia is not sending its broadcasters to Florida, although it can still broadcast remotely from Philadelphia. The same might be true for the Phillies’ radio broadcast team.
Are there any players behind schedule because of injuries?
First baseman Rhys Hoskins (left elbow surgery) and right-hander Seranthony Domínguez (Tommy John surgery) are working through injuries, the Phillies said recently. But Hoskins told The Philadelphia Inquirer last month that he expects to be ready to play by Opening Day. Domínguez could return at some point midsummer. J.T. Realmuto fractured the base of his right thumb early in camp, but is hopeful he'll be ready for Opening Day.
When is Opening Day?
April 1 against the Braves at Citizens Bank Park, with first pitch scheduled for 3:05 p.m. ET.
Who is the likely Opening Day starter?
Aaron Nola has started three consecutive Opening Days. The last Phillies pitcher to do that was Roy Halladay from 2010-12. If Nola makes his fourth consecutive Opening Day start on April 1 against the Braves, it will be the most consecutive season-opening starts by a Phils pitcher since Steve Carlton made 10 in a row from 1977-86.
Nola, Halladay and Carlton -- that's a pretty good group, isn't it?
What is the likely Opening Day lineup and rotation?
1. Andrew McCutchen, LF
2. Rhys Hoskins, 1B
3. Bryce Harper, RF
4. J.T. Realmuto, C<br.5. Didi Gregorius, SS
6. Alec Bohm, 3B
7. Jean Segura, 2B
8. Scott Kingery, CF
9. Aaron Nola, P
Rotation: Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler, Zach Eflin, Matt Moore and Chase Anderson
Closer: Archie Bradley