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February 17, 2017

Mackanin lays down law before Phillies' first full-squad workout

CLEARWATER, Fla. ––The Phillies held their first full-squad workout of the 2017 spring training season on Friday.

Before they took the field, the team was greeted by a who’s who of the front office and staff as Pete Mackanin took part in a time-honored February tradition. The manager addressed his team with the goals and expectations for the upcoming season.

“The same old staples,” Mackanin said, surely dumbing down the summary and leaving out the trademark humor he likely infused into his speech. “The same old work hard, enjoy the fight to where you want to be. Don’t be late. Do everything right. Follow the rules and compete. The basic stuff.”

You know, don’t screw up.

The Phillies, entering Year Three of their rebuilding process, aren’t expected to contend in 2017. But that doesn’t mean they can’t be competitive and at least flirt with a winning record for the first time since 2011.

But the reality is the roster is teeming with youth, and much of it inexperienced. There is promise in prospects like Dylan Cozens and Jorge Alfaro, among others, but they are hardly locks to be difference makers when they reach the big leagues (or if they reach the big leagues in 2017).

With that said, the Phillies 40-man roster is in much better shape than it was, say, three springs ago, when guys like Bobby Abreu and Marlon Byrd were getting regular playing time in the spring.

The current 40-man roster has just five players older than 30 (Howie Kendrick, Andres Blanco, Pat Neshek, Clay Buchholz, Joaquin Benoit). They have more 22-year-olds (Cozens, Jose Valentin, Zach Eflin, Alberto Tirado, Elniery Garcia, Drew Anderson) than guys north of 30.

The average age of the Phillies current 40-man roster: 26.

“You know what’s interesting about this group? And I really started seeing it last year – these guys pull for each other,” Mackanin said. “And as far as their attitude is concerned, you can kind of see it in their eyes, they feel like they’re going to be a better team this year. And they’re all eager and working out with a lot of energy and everybody’s in a great mood. The mood has been a little different than it has been.”

Freddy Galvis, who came into camp earlier this week with a minor hamstring injury, knocking him out of the World Baseball Classic, took infield work and jumped into the batter’s box for live batting practice sessions against pitchers, too.

“Freddy looks good,” Mackanin said. “We’re just being very cautious with Freddy but he’s healthy and he’s going to stay healthy, hopefully for the whole year.”

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