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Phillies finally have their bats back against Pirates: A fan’s take
The Philadelphia Phillies have been short-handed in some way for the entire season. In fact, even when the Phillies got Chase Utley(notes) back two weeks ago, they had to go without Shane Victorino(notes) to balance it out. Even while they were winning through April and May, it was hard for us Philadelphia fans to wonder how much better they'd be at full strength.
But now that Victorino is back from injury this weekend against the Pittsburgh Pirates, we will finally see a Phillies team—or at least an offense—at full strength. At long last, Charlie Manuel can send out a batting order of Victorino, Utley, Jimmy Rollins(notes), Placido Polanco(notes), Ryan Howard(notes), Raul Ibanez(notes), Carlos Ruiz(notes) and Domonic Brown(notes), like he's wanted to all year.
Yet just because all of our batters are healthy at the same time, it doesn't mean they will all perform. After all, not having Victorino wasn't the reason that the Phillies struggled to hit off the Washington Nationals on May 31 and June 1. Although Ibanez and Brown are getting hot, Utley is still inching back to form, while Howard's batting average has been getting worse.
However, when Utley finally came back, they had the psychological lift to bat the Cincinnati Reds around for four games, even though Utley did very little. Perhaps that will happen against the Pirates as well—and would help to snuff out another potential slump before it starts.
Taking care of the Pirates shouldn't be a big deal since the Phillies are supposed to handle teams like that—yet they were supposed to handle the Nationals as well. In any case, since these are the first few games with our ideal starting lineup, it is more important that they generate some runs and wins, to make a statement.
After all, Philadelphia has managed to hold on in the NL East without some key bats at various points. But now that everyone is healthy for the time being, this is the time to show that they can dominate, since injuries are no longer an excuse.
While us fans are still comforted by being in first place, we know that the team hasn't been at its best in the last few weeks. If those struggles continue even with everyone available, then there will be reason to be concerned during the summer. We know that they can win if someone gets hurt again, but it would be nice to run up a new hot streak before that has to happen.
Given that the Pirates, Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago Cubs are coming up on the schedule, this is a good time for Philadelphia to start such a streak. We've all waited two months to see a Phillies team like the one we will see in Pittsburgh, with all of the big stars ready for action. Now this weekend will start showing us if it was all worth the wait, or will be worth it eventually.
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