What better time than the turn of the calendar to take a brief detour from the hot stove to look at the Phillies early-season schedule?
The Phils are actually set up well to get off to a hot start. Of their first 32 games, 13 are against the Marlins and Mets, two teams that as of Thursday look like two of the four worst teams in the National League.
Here are some other takeaways from the Phillies schedule:
Eighteen of those first 32 games are at home, and three off days are included.
The Phillies play their division opponents 19 times each this season, after playing them 18 times per year in the past.
The Phillies have 30 series prior to the All-Star break 16 against teams that finished above .500 last year, and 14 against teams that had losing records.
The combined 2012 winning percentage of the Phils first-half opponents is just under .500, at .499.
The Phillies play the Marlins 13 times before the All-Star break, and face the Braves 13 times after the All-Star break.
The Phils' home opener is against the Royals, and theyll likely see Kansas Citys new ace, James Shields, in the final game of that series.
The Phils play four interleague games in April (three vs. Royals, one at Indians), seven in May (three vs. Indians, four at Red Sox), three in June (at Twins) and end the first half with three games at the White Sox.
The Phillies finish their season series with the Pirates, Reds and Brewers by July 4.
The Phils had a favorable April schedule last year, too, as 17 of 23 games came against teams that eventually finished below .500. The Phils went 8-9 in those games, as Freddy Galvis hit .191 in April replacing Chase Utley, and the first base contingent drove in 13 runs in 23 games.
The difference is that both Utley and Howard are expected to be ready for the season's first month this time.
E-mail Corey Seidman at email@example.com