Ya gotta believe – and fans still do in this year’s creaky Phillies lineup

The Phillies are gearing up for their first game of the regular season Monday against the Braves in Atlanta.

But first, the team is tuning up with a few games in Philadelphia.

Fans outside the ballpark on their way to a meet and greet with the players Friday had nary a discouraging word to say about the team’s playoff chances this year.

The Washington Nationals are loaded.  The Atlanta Braves signed a bunch of Upton brothers in the off-season.

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But the Phillies’ red-clad faithful still believe in the core of a team that has made the playoffs in five of the last six years.

Among those waiting to go onto the field as part of the event was Geraldine Starr of Franklinville, N.J., who was accompanied by 13 other fans. She’s sure the team is headed to the World Series.

“As long as we’re healthy, we’re a competitive team,” she said. “That’s for sure. As long as everyone stays healthy we’re going to be there. We’ve got Chase Utley back, Ryan Howard’s strong … it looks like we’re going to have a good season.”

Patricia Sickels concurred.

“I think they are going to do good,” she said. “They were strong in training, that was a good sign. Age is experience. I think that’s a good thing.”

Brushing off criticism of the Phillies lineup as too old and too slow to produce enough runs for a shot at the playoffs, Brian Kalesse of Philadelphia has his own theory about the age factor.

“Baseball players don’t have to be athletes, they have just have to be able to hit the ball, see it well and throw,” he said. “They don’t have to run real fast, they don’t have to be young. They can be like wine, old and polished.”

The Phillies home opener at Citizens Bank Park is next Friday at 4 p.m. against Kansas City.

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