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April 03, 2017

Who's in left field on Opening Day? Someone new, of course

CINCINNATI – The Phillies season begins in about a half hour.

When Pete Mackanin’s Opening Day lineup was announced earlier today, there was nothing unexpected but something very familiar: news names in the corner outfield spots. Newcomers Howie Kendrick (acquired in a November trade) and Michael Saunders (signed as a free agent in January) are starting in left field and right field, respectively.

This is the seventh straight Opening Day that the Phillies have had different players penciled into their corner outfield spots to begin the season. Last year it was Pete Bourjos and Cedric Hunter, in 2015 it was Grady Sizemore and Ben Revere, in 2014 it was Marlon Byrd and Tony Gwynn Jr., and so on and so on.

Phillies Opening Day corner outfielders, since 2009

 2017 Howie Kendrick Michael Saunders  
 2016 Cedric HunterPeter Bourjos 
 2015Ben RevereGrady Sizemore 
2014  Tony Gwynn Jr.Marlon Byrd 
2013 Domonic Brown John Mayberry Jr. 
 2012John Mayberry Jr. Hunter Pence 
 2011Raul Ibanez Ben Francisco 
 2010Raul Ibanez Jayson Werth 
 2009 Raul IbanezJayson Werth 

The Phillies haven’t had any one corner outfielder start in back to back Opening Days in the same position since Raul Ibanez (he started three straight in left field from 2009-11). John Mayberry started in back to back Opening Days, but in left field one year (2012) and in right the next (2013).

The last time a pair of Phillies corner outfielders started on consecutive Opening Days in the same positions? That as way back in 2010, when for the second straight year, Ibanez and Jayson Werth (right field) flanked center fielder Shane Victorino.

And while we’re not going to say it’s a lock, the tradition will continue in 2018. Kendrick’s contract expires at the end of the 2017 season and the Phillies aren’t committed to keeping Saunders beyond this season, too.

Here’s the good news for a team in desperate need for some consistent productivity from their outfielders in general: the Triple-A roster that begins their season this week in the International League features three of the organization’s top prospects (Roman Quinn, Nick Williams, Dylan Cozens) and two other members of the Phillies' top dozen prospects are also outfielders (Mickey Moniak, Cornelius Randolph).

Follow Ryan on Twitter: @ryanlawrence21

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