Good News Arrives On Various Fronts

Some days are just better than others. As far as days go, Monday was actually a pretty good day for the Phillies. Sure, they lost their exhibition game to the Yankees by a 12-3 score, but if you look behind the boxscore and dig a little deeper, there was a lot for Phillies fans to rejoice about and enjoy.

It's splashed all over the television, the radio, newspapers and the internet. Billy Wagner's first pitch as a Phillies was turned around for a 400 foot homerun. By pitcher Kevin Brown no less. The event caused a Phillies fan to yell "I thought we got rid of Jose Mesa," causing Brown to give a little smile as Brown circled the bases. Sure, you can talk about a jinx or worry about Wagner, but the real news is buried a little deeper. Actually, now that I think about it, the real news is right there for all to see; Billy Wagner was pitching in a Phillies uniform.

After the homerun, Wagner allowed the Yankees to put runners on first and third before he settled in. At that point, Wagner dispatched Alex Rodriguez, Jason Giambi and Gary Sheffield to get out of the jam. "At least I got the good hitters out," Wagner told reporters after the game. At least Wagner was pitching. The Phillies new closer had been kept from pitching in a game with a sore middle finger on his pitching hand until Monday's game. The fact that he was out there is not just a good sign, it's a great sign.

The other news coming out of Monday's game with the Yankees was that Kevin Millwood took the loss. Again, not a problem and not the real news. The fact that Kevin Millwood was also pitching was welcome news. Millwood had injured his left – non-throwing – shoulder in fielding drills last week and missed his turn in the rotation. He returned yesterday and reported some aching in the injured shoulder, but nothing serious. After the game, Millwood had the shoulder wrapped in ice, but was worried only about getting back into his routine and working on his mechanics. Millwood allowed five hits and three runs in his two innings of work.

The other good news came out of Philadelphia. David Bell was examined by Dr. Michael Ciccotti, the Phillies team physician. Ciccotti confirmed the diagnosis of tendinitis in the third baseman's right shoulder and sent him back to Clearwater. Bell will be back at workouts on Tuesday and can play as soon as he feels up to swinging a bat and throwing comfortably. The fact that the Phillies have a rare day off Tuesday will give Bell an extra day before determining if he is able to try playing.

Say what you will about David Bell, but this is a guy who played part of last season with a broken back – he fractured two vertebrae crashing into a fence at The Vet – and tried to give the Phillies all he could give. He is also a guy that will make a huge difference on this team if he is healthy.

So, when all is considered and put into its proper perspective, the news out of Clearwater and Philadelphia was good on Monday. We never know what other days will bring, but at least for one day, there was something for Phillies fans to smile about even if you had to sift through the news to find exactly what you were looking for.

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