CLEARWATER, Fla. - Phillies manager Charlie Manuel isn't wasting any time getting a look at Jason Donald. The team's top infield prospect will start at second base today against Pittsburgh in a Grapefruit League opener.
Donald, who starred at double-A Reading and in the Arizona Fall League in 2008, is one of several infielders the Phillies are considering carrying if second baseman Chase Utley or third baseman Pedro Feliz is not ready to open the regular season.
Utley had hip surgery in November and is on track to be ready for opening day. Feliz, who underwent back surgery in November, is on a slower route.
Manuel also plans to look at Donald, 24, at third during the exhibition season. Eric Bruntlett will start at the position today. Over the next month, non-roster players Miguel Cairo and Marcus Giles will get looks at third, too.
"Our workouts have been good," Manuel said. "We're ready to play some games."
Today's starting lineup: Jimmy Rollins, SS; Shane Victorino, CF; Raul Ibanez, LF; Ryan Howard, 1B; Geoff Jenkins, RF; Matt Stairs, DH; Donald, 2B; Bruntlett, 3B; Chris Coste, C.
Jamie Moyer and Joe Blanton will be the first two pitchers. Each is expected to go two innings or 40 pitches.
All signed. Catcher Carlos Ruiz, the last unsigned player on the 40-man roster, agreed to a one-year contract worth $475,000 yesterday, putting the Phillies' payroll at about $133.4 million.
The Phils ended last season with a payroll of $112 million, the 10th-highest figure in baseball.
WBC rosters. Rollins was the only Phillie named to Team USA when final rosters for the World Baseball Classic were announced last night.
Ruiz (Panama), outfielder Stairs (Canada), and reliever J.C. Romero (Puerto Rico) also made final rosters. Infielder Brad Harman, catcher Joel Naughton and pitcher Drew Naylor were named to the Australian team. Players will join their teams Sunday.
The tournament begins March 5, with the championship game March 23 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.
Fundamentals. In their final workout before exhibition play, the Phillies concentrated on sliding yesterday. Players pulled heavy-duty sweatpants over their baseball pants. They took off their spikes, worked up a good sprint, and slid into bases on wet grass.
"Straight at the bag," baserunning guru Davey Lopes shouted.
Lopes showed that he is an old-schooler by shouting "Hands up!" as players slid into the bag.
Since batting gloves have become a regular part of the equipment over the last few decades, more and more players drag their hands as they slide, but it's always best to raise them, so they won't be stepped on.