Phils' home opener lineup will be 'sentimental'

Mackanin aiming to have Howard, Ruiz start next week at The Bank

Phils' home opener lineup will be 'sentimental'

CINCINNATI -- Phillies manager Pete Mackanin revealed plans for a few of his players hours before the team's Opening Day game on Monday at Great American Ball Park.

Ryan Howard and Carlos Ruiz were in the starting lineup, and they are expected to be in the lineup next Monday against the Padres in the home opener at Citizens Bank Park. Howard and Ruiz are in the final season of their contracts, and they are not expected to return next season.

"I wanted to make sure that Chooch started Opening Day, and the same thing with Ryan," Mackanin said. "We'll just go from there. I'd like them to start, if possible, on Opening Day at home, and I'll try to do that for sentimental reasons."

Mackanin declined to name a closer. David Hernandez and Dalier Hinojosa are considered the top two candidates.

"I'm thinking about it as we speak," he said, asked who will pitch Monday if the Phillies have a ninth-inning lead.

Mackanin and pitching coach Bob McClure had a meeting Sunday with the bullpen. They discussed the possibilities for the seventh, eighth and ninth innings.

"There's going to be a mix of a lot of different guys," Mackanin said. "We'll just see how it plays out. Eventually somebody will be that last pitcher. It's almost like an audition. It might be any one of five guys that will end up as our closer. And if not, we'll close by committee -- even though I don't want to do that. If that's what we have to work with, that's what we're going to do."

Cameron Rupp will get the bulk of playing time behind the plate, which is not a surprise.

"Chooch is moving up in age," Mackanin said. "He's still capable. I think if we keep him healthy and he plays less, I think we're going to get more out of him."

Cedric Hunter started in left field Monday. He entered Spring Training as a non-roster invitee, but he impressed the coaching staff with the quality of his plate appearances. Mackanin said Hunter and Rule 5 Draft pick Tyler Goeddel will start the season as a platoon in left field.

"We'll give Goeddel a chance, even though he didn't have that good of a spring," Mackanin said. "He showed a few things that I think he's going to be OK. We'll work it in to start the season and we'll go from there."

The Phillies have two Rule 5 Draft picks on the roster in Goeddel and left-hander Daniel Stumpf. According to Baseball America, only three teams in the past decade have had two Rule 5 Draft selections on their roster: the Braves in 2015, the Astros in '11 and the Reds in '06. Mackanin said he thinks Goeddel and Stumpf can stick the entire season.

"They've both shown enough ability where they can be part of the future," Mackanin said. "Starting last year, we went into this rebuilding phase. Might call it an experiment last year. This year, a year further, we're going to find out what we have going into next year. While we're doing that, we're hoping to win more games. We think Stumpf and Goeddel could add to that. If not, they're both young enough where we have something down the road, whether it's later this year or next year. It's hard to turn away young talent, and that's what our goal is, to keep them."

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone, follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.