Aaron Nola, the Phillies top pitching prospect, arrived in the big league clubhouse this morning at Bright House Field. The 7th overall pick in last June's draft was scheduled to start this afternoon's game against the Yankees.
Due to the threat of inclement weather, Nola was pushed back. Closer Jonathan Papelbon started Friday's game; Nola is tentatively scheduled to follow in relief.
The Phillies break camp in six days and obviously are prioritizing Papelbon - they want him to be able to get his work in in preparation for the upcoming season. Rain is expected early this afternoon in Clearwater.
1:12 p.m.: Papelbon with a pretty easy first inning. He struck out Brett Gardner to get the game underway; hit 93 MPH. Only base runner reached on a walk. It was Papelbon's first start of any kind since the spring of 2007. His last major league start? That came on Aug. 21, 2005 in Anaheim, when he threw 5 2/3 shutout innings at the Angels.
1:30 p.m.: Aaron Nola took the mound in the second inning and here's how it went - he got Brian McCann to bounce out to first, he fell behind against Alex Rodriguez and gave up a single on a 3-1 pitch, he served up a booming double to right to Stephen Drew, and then he got Chris Young to fly out to right. No sac fly, through. Jeff Francoeur showed off his best major league tool, gunning down A-Rod at the plate. The Yankees DH apparently didn't get the memo that you're no longer allowed to run into catchers, as that's what he did to Cameron Rupp. No real collision, but not attempt to avoid or slide around the Phillies catcher, either.
1:49 p.m.: Pretty good second inning of work for Nola. He gave up a leadoff double to Brendan Ryan, and then retired three straight. Another ground ball to first (Brett Gardner) and then back-to-back strikeouts. He dialed up a 94-MPH fastball and painted the lower, outside corner to get Chase Headley looking, and then fooled Carlos Beltran (swinging) on what looked like a breaking ball. Two scoreless innings for Nola. No one up in 'pen, so looks like he'll go at least one more.
2:05 p.m.: Nola really impressed today. It looks like he's finished, as there's bullpen activity. But he seemed to get more comfortable with each pitch. In the fourth inning, Mark Teixeira swung at first pitch and lined out to left, McCann singled to center, then Nola went to a very nice-looking changeup to get A-Rod swinging, and after Drew singled, went to it again to get Chris Young swinging. Unofficial line: 3 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 4 K, 0 BB.