Some good, some bad in Phillies' spring training opener in front of fans


On a rainy day up north, the Phillies took the field in Lakeland, Fla. Sunday afternoon for their first spring training game of 2021. In front of a crowd of a thousand or so fans, the Phils lost to the Tigers, 10-2.

It was a seven-inning game. If managers from both teams agree, spring training games can be shortened to seven or five innings. You’ll see plenty of seven-inning affairs over the next month.

Ivan Nova, a non-roster invitee battling for the fifth starter’s job, started for the Phillies and lasted one-third of an inning. He gave up a leadoff home run estimated at 458 feet to shortstop Willi Castro before loading the bases and walking in a run. After 27 pitches, Nova's afternoon was over. The Tigers plated six runs in the inning.

“He was just off a little bit, he wasn’t attacking the zone,” said manager Joe Girardi, who had Nova in the Bronx for seven seasons. “I don’t really make too much out of it. First outing. He’s continuing to get his strength and the crispness of his pitches.”

Adam Haseley started in center field and led off the game with an opposite-field home run. He also walked and lined out in three plate appearances.

Scott Kingery, another competitor for the center field job, batted second and went 0 for 3. The Phillies had just four hits: Haseley’s homer, a Mickey Moniak double and singles from shortstop C.J. Chatham and catcher Jeff Mathis.

“(Haseley) had good at-bats today,” Girardi said. “At this time for me, you can’t do much to hurt your chances, but you can help your chances. I give guys the benefit of the doubt the first couple of weeks. He had some good at-bats, Moniak had good at-bats today, which was just good to see.”

The Phillies’ most effective pitcher of the afternoon was right-hander Bryan Mitchell, a 29-year-old swingman who appeared in 48 games (nine starts) for Girardi’s Yankees from 2014-17. He struck out three and put one man on base in two innings. 

“He threw the ball extremely well today,” Girardi said.

The Tigers were permitted approximately 2,200 fans at Joker Marchant Stadium and the announced attendance was 2,000, though there didn't appear to be that many. Girardi was sad not to see or hear any vendors, but it was a step in the right direction and the players and coaches enjoyed being around some fans again.

The Phillies should have a similar number of fans at Monday afternoon’s spring home opener at the newly renamed BayCare Ballpark. Aaron Nola will start. The game will be televised on NBC Sports Philadelphia+ at 1:05 p.m.

Things are also trending in the right direction back home. As of March 1, there will be a limit of 2,500 people at outdoor sporting events in the city of Philadelphia. That includes employees at the stadium.

“It’s a much better feel,” Girardi said. “I think the players really appreciate it. I thought the atmosphere was good today and it was encouraging.”

Check out the Phillies' full spring training TV schedule

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