Phillies’ Storylines to Watch Leading Up to Spring Training

MLB: FEB 16 Phillies Camp
CLEARWATER, FL – FEBRUARY 16: The Phillies pitchers gather together and catch up with one with the palm trees in the background moments before the start of the Philadelphia Phillies spring training workout on February 16, 2019 at the Carpenter Complex in Clearwater, Florida. (Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire)

Ah, February. Typically the coldest month of the year here in the Philadelphia area has not disappointed this year. Combine the cold with the frequent snowstorms over the past week and Phillies fans across Philadelphia are left thinking warmer thoughts.

Which always leads us back to Clearwater. Yes, wonderful Clearwater, Fla., home of the Threshers and the Spring Training headquarters for your Philadelphia Phillies! As the equipment truck is en route to Clearwater, fans are waiting in anticipation for pitchers and catchers to report next Wednesday and for the Spring to ‘officially’ begin!

But until we make it to that wonderful day where the likes of Aaron Nola, J.T. Realmuto, and Archie Bradley get to throwing at Spectrum Field, there are several storylines that Phillies fans should be on the lookout for. Today, we take a look at the important storylines that Phillies fans should keep an eye on.

Last-Minute Acquisitions for the Phillies

While a majority of the Phillies’ luxury cap has been spent this offseason, there are still several potential moves that the Phillies could make to improve the team.

Most likely, the Phillies will look to add another arm or two to reinforce the bullpen. Perhaps the most attractive name remaining on the market is free agent Trevor Rosenthal. Also, Jose Alvarez has yet to sign with a team following his shortened 2020 season with the Phillies. The Phillies could likely sign a reliever to a major league deal for $3-4 million. Another potential solution would be to add a few lower-tier pitchers to minor league contracts with invitations to Spring Training.

Today’s Moves

Today, the Phillies took another step in the right direction for the bullpen, adding reliever Brandon Kintzler on a minor-league contract. Kintzler owns a 2.55 ERA as a reliever since 2019 and pitched for the Marlins last year. Along with this, the team added another bench bat and signed former all-star Matt Joyce to a minor league deal as well.

Next to the bullpen, the Phillies’ most important need is to bolster their bench. With Scott Kingery likely acting as a backup middle infielder and center fielder, another former Phil may act as a great addition to the bench: Bamboo Brad Miller. The utility infielder played under Gabe Kapler’s 2019 Phillies before having a mediocre 2020 in St. Louis. The Phillies have also been connected to Marwin Gonzalez. Gonzalez, a veteran infielder, has spent the majority of his career in Houston.

The Phillies could potentially add another reliever, a bench bat, or even another starting pitcher in the next week. As teams approach the start of Spring Training, players will become increasingly desperate to sign a contract with a team for a season. This will cause them to settle for lower contracts than they are worth. The Phillies could potentially add high-impact players like Kintzler for next to nothing. A real bargain deal!

COVID-19 Protocols

Given the recent breakout of COVID-19 in the Philadelphia Flyers, Philly fans should be cognizant that pandemic-related bumps will occur in the 2021 season.

The initial bumps of the season will likely take place in the coming weeks. Per MLB’s COVID-19 guidelines, players are required to undergo a five-day mandatory quarantine before reporting to camp. The quarantine will be completed with diagnostic testing to determine if a player is healthy to access club facilities. It’s probable, if not likely, that a few players will test positive during their initial screenings.

During Spring Training, players will be subject to daily symptom screenings and health checks as well as frequent PCR testing. In addition, players will not be allowed to attend indoor gatherings of 10+ individuals, and can not be allowed to utilize indoor dining, bars, fitness and wellness centers, or entertainment venues. The athletes can dine outside, however.

To some, these restrictions will sound quite… restrictive. But the point of these regulations is to ensure a safe and uninhibited 2021 season. Also, it will hopefully prevent the careless actions of those like the Miami Marlins during the 2020 Summer Camp. Recently, it was announced the Grapefruit league would split into two “pods” for the duration of Spring Training.

Will Phillies Fans Be Allowed to Attend Spring Training Games?

Perhaps the most pressing question for fans is if they are allowed to watch their teams from the stands once again this year. An official announcement has not been made for the Phillies at this time. There has, however, been a report that the Phillies are planning to allow fans to attend games at Spectrum Field.

While the Phillies have yet to make an annoucement, there is hope from a neighboring team. The Pirates, whom are based in Bradenton (roughly 45 minutes south of Clearwater), have announced their initial plans to allow fans. The Yankees (based in Tampa) are also considering allowing fans.

Will Jim Salisbury and Ricky Botallico be “Making the Trip” This Year?

Last year, fans got to tag along with NBC Sports Philadelphia’s dynamic duo (and producer Spencer McKercher) as they went on a road trip to Clearwater.

A Wawa-filled road trip to sunny Clearwater sounds great right now. Salisbury and Botallico should take the trip for those that can’t, so that they may live vicariously through them.

Photo by: Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire

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