Premium Blog: Phillies Visit With Pigs

While the Phillies get ready for the opening of the regular season on Monday, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs are preparing for their first ever season. The two teams are meeting in Allentown, Pennsylvania to break in Coca-Cola Park. Updated 4:26 p.m.

Welcome to the first of our many Premium Blogs that we'll be running through the season on Philly Baseball News. Today, we're covering the Lehigh Valley IronPigs inaugural game against the Philadelphia Phillies.

The game begins at 2:05 p.m. and can be seen on Philly 57 if you're in the Philadelphia area.

Throughout the afternoon, we'll be bringing you updates through this blog on what's happening. Right now, Ryan Howard is taking batting practice and hasn't hit one over the 17' high fence in right field - yet.

We'll be providing some photos of the stadium and pre-game activities as we can. Please keep in mind that things here at the stadium are a little hectic, since it's the opening of a new facility and there are bound to be bugs that need to be worked out.

Coca-Cola Park is a brand new 10,000 seat facility in Allentown, Pennsylvania. The $47 million facility was finished on time and actually came in barely over budget, which is astonishing for today's facilities.

12:54 p.m. In case you're wondering, the Phillies have brought their regulars, but haven't said exactly how long they'll play. The starting lineup though is the one likely to be out there on Monday against the Nationals, with the exception of the DH, which is being used for Sunday's game against the 'Pigs.

1:25 p.m. The Phillies have also brought along a couple of young players like Lou Marson and Jason Donald to pick up some playing time in this game against the 'Pigs. Kyle Kendrick is slated to pitch for the Phillies and Ron Chiavacci will pitch for the 'Pigs and might possibly pitch as deep as he can, since he isn't slated to pitch until Friday night when Lehigh Valley plays their second game of the season in Scranton. By the way, Scranton is a former affiliate of the Phillies, until they moved to Ottawa for the 2007 season and now Lehigh Valley for 2008. There is pretty much being made of a rivalry between the two teams and it doesn't hurt that Scranton is now the Triple-A affiliate of the New York Yankees.

1:50 p.m. It's dignitary time on the field. As usual, the locals responsible for helping to bring baseball to the Lehigh Valley and for getting Coca-Cola Park built are being saluted in a pre-game ceremony. Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell will also be on hand for the ceremonies.

Just a little background on the Lehigh Valley. It's comprised of the cities of Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton and the surrounding areas. The area is the third most populous area in the state, but hasn't had affiliated minor league baseball since the 1950s when the St. Louis Cardinals had a minor league team in town that played at Braedon Field, which has long been demolished and is now home to a shopping mall. The nice thing about having a team here is that it's about a 90 minute drive to Citizens Bank Park, so if the Phillies were to need an emergency player some day, they could place a phone call and have someone in town quickly, as long as both teams are playing at home.

Ryan Howard was bundled up for the chilly weather welcoming the Phillies to the Lehigh Valley. (Photo: Chuck Hixson/PBN)
2:54 p.m. The distinction of the first home run in Coca-Cola Park history goes to Geoff Jenkins. The Phillies right-fielder cranked a 2-0 pitch from Ron Chiavacci into the shrubbery beyond the center field fence.

Chiavacci has had some trouble finding the strike zone and doesn't seem to have much movement on his pitches.

3:02 p.m. Apparently, 'Pigs manager Dave Huppert believes that the best way to stop Ryan Howard is with the "Howard Shift". He's been employing it in the game and Howard just grounded out to second baseman Casey Smith.

Chase Utley is introduced during pre-game ceremonies at Coca-Cola Park, home of the Lehigh Valley IronPigs.

3:50 p.m. Kyle Kendrick isn't throwing too badly. He's been in the upper 80s to just over the 90 mile per hour mark with his fastball and has decent movement today on his breaking pitches. Chiavacci has also settled in a little, but keep in mind that at this point, he's facing a lot of utility players like Eric Bruntlett and Jason Donald, who are both in the game along with other utility players.

4:08 p.m. The first real booing of the afternoon is heard when they announce that beer sales will end at the conclusion of the sixth inning, which just passed. DOH!

4:18 p.m. Brennan King doesn't seem to have much range at third base. He just let a ball hit by So Taguchi go down the line for a two-run double. It wasn't an easy play, but it's a play that a third baseman has to make.

4:26 p.m. It's a proud moment in Philly Baseball News history. With the media buffet about to close, I have set the IronPigs media single-game record with five pork barbecue sandwiches eaten. Hey, they're free! There is something a little strange though about eating something that the ball club is named after.

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