Philadelphia Baseball Review - Phillies News, Rumors and Analysis
PBR - The march to avenge last season's early postseason exit begins today as pitchers and catchers officially begin workouts in Clearwater.

The rest of the club will assemble under the Florida sun on Friday.

Here are three questions as the Phillies enter spring training.

Who's on first?

Charlie Manuel has to find a replacement to play first base as Ryan Howard is out at least through April while recovering from a ruptured Achillies' tendon.

Ruben Amaro Jr. went out and picked up Ty Wigginton and immediately said he would be the starter at first base in Howard's absence, but Manuel said John Mayberry Jr. would be the favorite entering spring training. To add to the conflicting statements, Amaro said Mayberry was the likely candidate to take the starting job in left field.  

Jim Thome's name is also in the mix to start a few games in Howard's absence, but it's important to note that he has played just 28 innings at first base over the last five seasons and none since 2007. 

If Mayberry does in fact win the left field spot (he should, easily) then it's likely Wigginton opens the season at first base with Thome getting a start or two a week.

What does the future hold for Domonic Brown?

The 24-year-old opened last season as a can't miss prospect, but after a disasterous season it now appears he's destined to open the season at Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

Amaro said he'd like to see Brown get another 600 at-bats in the minors and the outfield is crowded with the additions of Laynce Nix and Juan Pierre.

It's likely 2012 is a make-or-break season for Brown in determining where he stands in the Phillies' future plans.

When will the Phillies offer an extension to Cole Hamels?

Hamels will become a free agent following the season unless the Phillies and Amaro are willing to break the bank and sign him to a long-term deal.

It is widely expected that Hamels will command near $20 million a year on the open market, so he may be a tough buy for a club that already has nearly $109 million committed to seven players for 2013.

Amaro is expected to meet with Hamels' agent during spring training, so it will be interesting to see what comes of that meeting. If nothing comes of the meeting(s) the odds of retaining Hamels are likely to decrease as the season progresses.

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Philadelphia Baseball Review - Phillies News, Rumors and Analysis