Reading Ready For Eastern League Battles

The Reading Phillies could be a dominating force in the Eastern League this season. With three strong, young left-handers in the rotation, the R-Phils figure to have as much pitching as any team in the minors. And oh yeah, the offense isn't too bad either.

"This is gonna be fun," said Reading pitching coach Tom Filer. It certainly should be fun with newcomers Giovany Gonzalez and Daniel Haigwood at the top of the rotation and Scott Mathieson thrown in for good measure.

Pitching in Reading should be the envy of other Eastern League teams. "We have three good arms to throw out at anyone. I know last season, we faced the Bowie team and they threw some good arms out there and were tough to beat. That should be us this season," said Filer.

In addition to the "big three", Reading features minor league veterans Brian Mazone and Tim McClaskey to round out the rotation. "Mazone had a really nice spring for us and I like what I see. McClaskey doesn't possess that 90 mile per hour fastball, but he doesn't need it because of the other stuff that he does have," reports Filer.

The lineup is much like the rotation in that there are young prospects that other organizations drool over and a couple more veteran players to help stabilize things. AA players don't come any more veteran than Jim Rushford and Peter Bergeron. Rushford is in his third season with the Phillies, but drops down a level to play at Reading after hitting 20 homeruns, driving in 138 runs and hitting a combined .291 over the last two seasons at AAA Scranton Wilkes-Barre. Bergeron played in the majors with the Montreal Expos and isn't upset at all at being back at the AA level. "It doesn't do me any good to be mad about going back to AA. I'm thankful for the opportunity to keep playing," said Bergeron.

Bergeron will have a young stud joining him at the top of the order in Michael Bourn. While Bourn figured to start the year at AAA Scranton Wilkes-Barre, he has no problem with where he's at. "I'm a little bit surprised about it, but it's fine by me. They didn't give me any reason why I'm back here, but there must be something I didn't do right, so I'll just go out and try to play the best I can for this team," said an upbeat Bourn.

Reading starts their Eastern League battle on Thursday night (April 6) at Bowie before heading to Binghamton early next week. They open the home portion of their schedule April 13th against Altoona.


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