New Year’s first notebook…..

**Spring training, that wonderful part of the baseball calendar, is 42 days away. Frigid Philly temperatures certainly makes one anxious for the sunny skies of Clearwater. Equipment boxes are being stacked in the Phillies clubhouse at Citizens Bank Park awaiting their annual journey south next month. Do boxes get anxious?

**Before then, the Phillies will continue their search for starting pitching and other player moves. The usual list of non-roster players invited to spring training will be forthcoming. New manager Gabe Kapler will be spending time in Philly this month. He and several players will be making the chicken-dinner banquet tour.

**This weekend in Leesburg, VA, four Phillies will be among the 80-some players participating in the annual MLB Rookie Career Development, Nick Pivetta, Ben Lively, Victor Arano and J.P. Crawford.

**Eight or nine young players will take part in the Phillies annual Prospect Education Program next weekend at Citizens Bank Park.

**Nationally, the Hot Stove League should really be heating up as 136 free agents are still free. Biggest signing of the offseason? Phillies’ 3-year, $60 million contract for 1B Carlos Santana.

**ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick began the New Year with a column about the 18 most interesting names in baseball for 2018. Sitting in #14 is Gabe Kapler:

“First-time managers Aaron Boone, Alex Cora, Davey Martinez and Mickey Callaway will be the focus of considerable scrutiny in demanding East Coast markets with big media presences. But the most entertaining culture clash looms in Philadelphia, where Kapler, a California guy, arrives on the scene as a new-age thinker in the quintessential old-school sports town.

“Philadelphia fans trusted the process with the 76ers. Will it give the same courtesy to a health-conscious, conditioning-obsessed, sabermetrically oriented manager who’s learning on the job with a young, evolving roster? The Phillies might not win the NL East, but they’ll make for a heck of a reality show.”

**Away from baseball, Philly will have NFL playoff games this month. Fly Eagles Fly!

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