The SportsTalk Shop: Thinking Warm Thoughts…

In the fallout of record amounts of snowfall, coinciding with the cold and blustery conditions we suffered through this past weekend, I’d like to pass along the following public service announcement…

“We’re under a month away from the start of Major League Baseball’s opening of spring training!”

I said in an earlier post that I’m more confident in the Nationals’ chances of making the playoffs this year and it should be a great summer/fall for fans in the Washington, DC region.

While many baseball fans will write off 2016 year as a lost year for the Phillies—with most of the organization’s top prospects at least a few months away from being on the major league roster—I think there are many intriguing storylines for the upcoming season.

The “SportsTalk” cameras recently had a chance recently to speak with some of the key members of the organization going forward, new General Manager Matt Klentak, Manager Pete Mackanin, who’ll begin his first full year as the team’s skipper, and young right-handed pitcher Aaron Nola.  Despite the fact that Nola enters the season with just a few months of Major League experience under his belt, he holds the distinction of being one of the “oldest” members of the pitching staff, and could very well be the “eldest” pitcher on the team’s Opening Day starting rotation.

Here is Mackanin’s thoughts on a number of issues, including:

  • his approach of how Ryan Howard will be used this season
  • a critical season for third baseman/outfielder Cody Asche
  • a peek at what his Opening Day outfield alignment could look like
  • who has the edge to round out the starting rotation
  • the competition for the team’s closer position
  • why fans should be enthusiastic about the 2016 Phillies ball club

New GM Matt Klentak answered questions on:

  • what are this year’s team goals
  • why the team is headed in the right directin
  • young, highly touted prospect Vincent Velasquez, who was acquired in the Ken Giles’ trade
  • an off-season conversation he had with Ryan Howard, regarding his future with the Phillies

Nola also talked about his expectations for the new season, how he and his teammates will approach a “rebuilding season,” and his insights on how he’s learned to have success, even on days in which he doesn’t have command of all his pitches.

There could very well be a number of additional storylines that develop and players to watch over the next several months for the “Phightins,” as they continue to turn over the roster and look to rebuild after a period that will go down as the greatest era in team history.  With young prospects like Nick Williams, Jorge Alfaro, J.P. Crawford, Roman Quinn, Andrew Knapp and a host of good, young pitching prospects, it may not be too long before the Phillies return to the upper half of the division and resume stringing together playoff appearances.

Check back to the “SportsTalk Shop” as we get closer to Opening Day for more insights on the Phillies, the Nationals and topics of interested for baseball fans in the RCN viewing area.  Also, email us your baseball comments and opinions to RCNSportsTalk@rcn.com and we’ll read and respond on an upcoming edition of “RCN SportsTalk.”

Chris Michael About Chris Michael

Chris handles play-by-play for RCN sports events, including baseball, football & basketball games and produces/hosts the station’s 60-minute live call-in show. Among Chris’s other responsibilities include reporting on local news & sports stories, conducting “Take 5” interviews with community and political leaders, producing commercials, voiceovers and promos; and generating blog entries and videos on the internet. Click here to listen to the weekly Sports Talk podcast.

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