Results tagged ‘ Carlos Ruiz ’

Magic Moments of Phillies Spring Training

The first official Spring Training game for the Phillies will take place on Saturday.  I am excited for baseball!  But there is also a little sadness that I cannot be in Clearwater this year to enjoy the first crack of the bat under the warm Florida sunshine.  If you are lucky enough to be heading south, enjoy it!

Spring Training is a magical moment in time where players are generally happy, relaxed and having a good time.  The fan-friendly atmosphere and nice weather draws big crowds each year.  And while the games are interesting, they really don’t mean much.  The real reason to head to Clearwater is to mingle with other fans, chat with players, get autographs and photos and, most importantly, get a closer look at how major leaguers behave when their guard is down.

You may notice a lot of smiles, laughter and silly hijinks.  To demonstrate, and also to get you in the Spring Training frame of mind, here are some of my favorite photos and moments from years past in Clearwater:

First up, the normally quiet and reserved Chase Utley laughs out loud and on another occasion, poses and smiles for me:

Jimmy Rollins waves hello and later attempts to play golf with his bat and ball:

Phillies alum Mike Schmidt has some fun with Reggie Jackson; Charlie Manuel jokes around with his players:

Remember Fan Fest?  For some reason, the Phillies have cancelled this annual tradition of meeting players and getting autographs.  But it was amazing while it lasted.  Here are Chad Durbin and Kyle Kendrick signing and posing for me:

I attended a few Team USA games while in Clearwater.  The most memorable moment was watching Jimmy Rollins and Derek Jeter of the Yankees field balls side-by-side during warm-ups.  The second photo is Chooch, Carlos Ruiz, making an odd face at batting practice:

Here we have the Big Man, Ryan Howard, yucking it up on the field and later doing his impersonation of an airplane (or maybe he was just playing 1st base?):

And finally, just me and my camera hanging out by the field before batting practice.  You can see how close fans can get to the field:

Are you ready to pack your bags yet?  Wishing I was….sigh.  Maybe next year :O)

“LIKE” us on Facebook for more updates & photos!

Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

An Emotional Offseason

A recent Sports Illustrated article graded the Phillies offseason moves a “D.”  They summarized it by saying, “Though the trade for Revere gives the Phillies a cost-controlled centerfielder to grow on, they’ve taken steps backward with most of their other moves, and are more likely to repeat last year’s middling showing than contend in a division where the Nationals and Braves have upgraded in impressive fashion.


This assessment, however, may or may not be totally off-base.  I decided to rank some of these moves for myself using not grades, but my emotions about each event.  Roger Ebert once said, “Your intellect may be confused, but your emotions will never lie to you.”  Let’s see if he is correct:

Happy: The trade for centerfielder Ben Revere.  He is cheap, young and has room for improvement.  My instinct says he will be a pleasant surprise.

Nostalgic Joy: Re-signing RHP Chad Durbin.  Durbin is a solid human being and he had a great 2012 with the Braves.  Plus he helped the Phillies collect their 2008 World Series championship.

Cautiously Optimistic: Signing Michael Young to play third base.  Young seems like another solid human being with a true passion for the game.  The question is whether or not he can still play defense.  I feel that a guy with this much experience and motivation should be able to work it out.

Conflicted: Adding Chase Utley-hater and lefty John Lannan to the starting rotation.  Obviously with the departure of Vance Worley, the Phillies needed a starter.  Lannan is cheap, but how well he will perform and his attitude are, at least for me, big question marks.

Confused: Signing outfielder Delmon Young.  This guy is a problem child who is also still recovering from offseason ankle surgery.  His defense is awful and he has been, not without cause, labeled an anti-Semite with a bad temper.  I get the low-risk, high reward school of thought here.  What I do not get is why the Phillies would rather mess around with this guy than finally give Domonic Brown a full-time shot at one of the corner outfield spots.

Nervously Nauseous: I am just a wee bit sick to my tummy about the 2-year, $12 million deal the Phillies gave to RHP Mike Adams to be the 8th inning guy.  I like Adams if he is healthy.  However, he is recovering from thoracic outlet surgery.  This is the same surgery that Chris Carpenter of the Cardinals had and his career looks like it may be over.  That is a little scary.

Utter Disappointment: Carlos Ruiz’s 25-game suspension for using a banned substance.  He did not use steroids, which is a relief.  But still, getting caught with ADHD meds when he was forewarned about it after a previously positive test is very disappointing.  He knew he’d probably get caught again and did it anyway.  *Sigh.*

Sad: Losing Vance Worley in the Ben Revere trade.  I wish him luck in Minnesota!

Indifferent:  Everything else.  A lot of minor moves were made, mostly involving minor league deals and guys past their prime.  Unless someone makes a real impact in camp, I cannot imagine there will be much to say about these miscellaneous people.

And my final emotion of the day…

Elation!  Spring Training starts tomorrow!


“LIKE” us on Facebook for more updates & photos!

Delmon’s Diet and My Off-Season Hangover

The signing of Delmon Young on a $750,000, one-year contract just got weirder, if that is possible.  An initial look at Young’s problems included a 2012 arrest for a brawl involving Anti-Semitic remarks, the pummeling of a minor league umpire with his bat, terrible defense and an inconsistent bat.  Let us now add to that list two items: Young’s weight and dog poop.

Yes, dog poop.  Apparently, part of his community service for the 2012 arrest includes cleaning up doo-doo at a community park.  Also of note, Young does not like soupy poop:

“I didn’t like cleaning up dog poop,” Young said inside the Phillies clubhouse. “It was a dog park and people don’t clean up after their dogs sometimes and we’re left to. A lot of times, I just stared at it, because it was too soupy. But that put some perspective on things, too.”

This is a man who has actually spent time staring at dog poop.  Now let that sink in for a moment and see the picture develop in your brain…

While that thought marinates and comes to a slow, sad simmer, let us examine the next oddity in this signing.  Young’s contract has been set up so that he can earn an additional $2.75 million in bonuses.  $600,000 of that involves him getting on a scale and meeting a goal weight.

Young will receive $100,000 each time he makes weight.  If someone offered me that deal, I would be anorexic by now.

That aside, I am actually beginning to feel sorry for this guy.  Think about the endless jokes we can all make about this.  Then picture Young walking sadly past a box of donuts in the clubhouse, carrying a poop scoop on his way to the dog park, while singing a melancholy version of Hava Nagila and wearing an “I Love Umpires” pin on his lapel.  I don’t know about you, but I am really depressed now.

In fact, this entire off-season has seemed like a long, tortuous, binge-induced hangover.  Seriously, my head hurts.  All these strange and questionable roster moves, the thought of poor Domonic Brown sulking over the Phillies apparent disinterest towards him, the looming injury questions, Chooch cheating…all this and more is making slightly insane.

Is it Spring Training yet?  If I am going to be tortured by all these uncertainties, at least once the season begins, I will get a bigger glimpse of what is to come.  In the meantime, pass the donuts.


“LIKE” us on Facebook for more updates & photos!

Photoshopping by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies 2013 New Year Resolutions

In what has become an annual tradition, I usually post New Year Resolutions for Phillies fans at about this time.  But it seems that as a fan base, most of us do seem to have our act together.  As for the 2012 Phillies team, the same cannot be said.  They need some serious help.

So this year, I would like to propose a set of New Year Resolutions for the team instead:

Jimmy Rollins – I resolve to stop swinging for the fences and hitting pop-ups.  I will stick to line-drives and grounders.

Roy Halladay, Chase Utley & Ryan Howard – We all resolve to be healthy, productive members of this team!  No more bum shoulders, ankles or knees!

Kyle Kendrick – I will not mope when I feel disrespected and just keep pitching.  I will put on my big-boy pants and wear them all year long.

Carlos Ruiz – My goal is to repeat my 2012 performance, without the performance-enhancing ADHD pills, thereby regaining the respect I lost after getting suspended.

Ben Revere – I resolve to hit my first major league home run in Citizens Bank Park.  If Juan Pierre can hit a homer here, then so shall I!

Ruben Amaro Jr. – No matter how tempted I am to save money, I will not sign former Phillies relief pitcher Ugueth Urbina.  Yes, he paid his debt to society.  However, he did attempt to murder 5 ranch hands by setting them on fire and chopping at them with a machete.  Perhaps we should pass on this one.

Domonic Brown – I resolve to reach my full potential this year and prove I belong in the big leagues, preferably by May.

Mike Adams – I resolve to be fully recovered from surgery and return to my All-Star relief-pitcher form in order to be deemed worthy of my giant $12 million contract.

Charlie Manuel – I will go out on top this year!  World Series or bust…

I wish you all a safe and happy New Year!

“LIKE” us on Facebook for more updates & photos!

2012 Phillies Photo Tribute

Drum roll please….

Here is my annual Phillies Photo Slideshow!  The slideshow includes all original photos that I took during the 2012 season; it includes players, coaches, fans, the Phanatic, and more.  Enjoy!

Sign of the Apocalypse? Ruiz Suspended for Stimulant Use

Well, at least it was not steroids.  Still, the news that the Phillies’ beloved catcher Carlos Ruiz has been suspended 25 games for violating the league’s drug policy does sort of feel like the end of the world may be upon us.  Is the Phillies 2013 season already going down in flames?  Oh Chooch, say it ain’t so!  I am so depressed…

The stimulant Ruiz took was Adderall, which is an amphetamine used to treat ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).  College students use it to improve focus and stamina.  For ADHD, it helps alleviate symptoms and allows patients to behave “normally” (if there is such a thing as normal).

Many major league baseball players are prescribed this type to drug for ADHD and they are granted an exception from MLB.  A good example would be our old pal Shane Victorino, who has struggled with ADHD since childhood.  He even wrote about it in his book that was released last year, “Shane Victorino: The Flyin’ Hawaiian.” 

Another Phillie, Kevin Frandsen, was suspended in 2011 for a different amphetamine, Ritalin, while in the minors.  These pills have become more common over the years among athletes looking for a “mental” boost instead of a physical one, like steroids.  There is much debate over whether or not amphetamines really offer any serious edge, but Ruiz’s numbers this past year do seem suspicious.  He had career highs in many categories including batting average, home runs and slugging percentage.

Know what else is a stimulant? Caffeine.  So can players just drink jugs of coffee before games to get a similar effect?  And how about energy drinks, like 5-Hour Energy or Monster?  While these are not nearly as strong as Adderall, it does raise some interesting questions.  Does feeling more “awake” enhance baseball performance?  And if so, how much?

There have been a number of studies which can be found in scientific journals, but the results are varied and, therefore, inconclusive.  An article at reviews a journal entry by six scientists from top universities who advocate the use of amphetamines by healthy people.  But the review serves to show an opposing view, noting the dangers of drug dependency and side effects.  So even scientists cannot seem to agree on the subject.

Whatever the individual opinion on the subject, the end result is the same.  There will be no Chooch for the first month of the season.  Worse, players are only given a suspension for use of amphetamines after their second failed test.  This means Ruiz knew he was to be retested, and still did not stop taking the drug.  Chooch, you are killing me, man!  What the *%*^@!!??

This is a crippling blow to the Phillies, who are already in a tenuous situation as this team continues to age.  The window of opportunity for wins with this core group of players is closing fast.  Of course, Erik Kratz will be there to fill in, but with so many questions going into the 2013 season, this is a huge setback.  Will Chase Utley be healthy?  How about Roy Halladay?  Can the team sign a solid outfielder?  And the list goes on…

I need a stiff drink right about now.  Spring training has not even begun, and I already feel the weight of impending doom upon us.  Hey, isn’t the end of the world nearly upon us?  December 21, 2012 is less than a month away and, according to the Mayan calendar, we are all as good as gone.  Is Chooch the first sign of the apocalypse or do the Phillies just have a black cloud over them in 2012?  And could the Angels signing of Ryan Madson, who the Phillies should have gone after this offseason, be apocalypse sign #2?  I officially hate the Mayans for prompting this silly discussion.

Let us all hope that 2013 has better luck in store for all of us.

“LIKE” us on Facebook for more updates & photos!

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

The 2012 Phillies: A Season to Forget

The torture that was the 2012 Phillies season is finally over.  And sadly, it ended just as I predicted before the season even began; without a playoff bid.  I was hoping to be wrong about that.

Since the Phillies won the World Series in 2008, each year they have taken exactly one step backwards.  So this year, missing the playoffs seemed like their destiny.  They lost the World Series in 2009; lost the NL Championship Series in 2010; lost the NL Division Series in 2011; and now, the next logical step has arrived.  The Phillies will go home early without even a sniff at a post-season run.

Remember happy days like these?:

For now, they are gone :O(

The first casualties of the 2012 disaster are already accounted for.  Bench coach Pete Mackanin, hitting coach Greg Gross and first base coach Sam Perlozzo have all been given their walking papers.  More fallout is probably on the horizon, but it will probably involve players, not coaches.

So who else should stay and who should go?  Here are some thoughts, starting with the offense:

In 195 at-bats, Kevin Frandsen hit .338, which led the team.  And for an entire month, he played with a stress fracture in his leg, yet he still kept hitting.  I say put him at 3rd base and get a back-up in case of injuries.

If the Phillies do not re-sign Juan Pierre, they are insane.  He hit .307 in 394 at-bats, led the team in stolen bases with 37 and he is the best bunter you can find anywhere.

Bring Shane Victorino back!  After a depressing second half with the Dodgers, his price will go down, possibly to the point where the Phillies can afford to resign him.  John Mayberry Jr. and Domonic Brown can platoon and then the Phils need another outfielder or two.

Needs to Go:  Nate Schierholtz, Ty Wigginton, Michael Martinez.  Martinez is good defensively, but hit only .174 in 115 at-bats.  They can find a better utility guy.  And we are stuck with Laynce Nix for one more year unless someone is willing to trade for him…not likely.

Back-up Catcher:  In – Erik Kratz; Out – Brian Schneider.

Relief Pitching:  Jonathan Papelbon stays and probably Antonio Bastardo.  I will also put in votes for Jeremy Horst and Phillipe Aumont.  The maybes are Jake Diekman and Justin DeFratus, although DeFratus needs to be 100% healthy, which I feel is still in question.  Michael Stutes may return, but no one is sure in what condition.

Please Go Away:  Josh Lindblom – trade him (if anyone wants him).  He has been awful.  This team needs some veteran help in the pen.

Please Come Back: Ryan Madson!

As for starters, unless someone’s arm falls off, stick with the usual 5: Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay (pray he gets healthy), Vance Worley and Kyle Kendrick.

And of course, all the usual suspects, like Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Carlos Ruiz, etc… will be back.  But will they be healthy?  That is the looming question.

To give an idea of how badly the injuries hurt the team this year, consider this: I may be missing some, but by looking at the team stats, at least 49 different players made an appearance for the Phillies this year, rotating in and out of the 25-man roster.  Also, only 2 players of those 49 reached 400 or more at-bats; Rollins (632) and Mayberry (441).  That is scary.

So the season is over and the healing (quite literally) shall begin.  Do you have any thoughts you would like to share about this season?  Feel free to leave comments below. 

“LIKE” us on Facebook for more updates & photos!

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

A Ruf Day for the Nats in Philly

The fact that Nationals came into last night’s game with the best record in baseball was simply fuel for the Phillies fire who were determined to give their Division rival a tough time.  Nats pitching got Ruf’d up by the Phillies who homered 3 times in the game and won by a score of 6-3.

Carlos Ruiz smashed a 2-run shot in the 3rd and Domonic Brown added another homer in the 6th.  But the biggest bang of the evening came off the bat of rookie Darin Ruf in the 2nd inning.  His first major league hit wound up being a home run to left center field.  That was a fitting start to his major league career as Ruf had already hit 38 homers this year in Double-A ball.

But the best part of Ruf’s homer was watching him get the silent treatment in the dugout for the entire inning.  Not even the bat boy would acknowledge the rookie.  Ruf tried to give him a fist bump and was totally denied.  Finally, after a lot of muffled giggling and players attempting to maintain their composure, he was mobbed by his teammates.  That had to be some kind of record for blowing off a rookie after his first home run.

After the game, Ruf told reporters, “That was very loving of them…The longest silent treatment of all time, I guess.”  Welcome to the Bigs, kid.

Game 2 with the Nationals starts tonight at 7:05pm.

“LIKE” us on Facebook for more updates & photos!

Photo by

Doubleheader, Double Wins as Phillies Sweep Rockies

After a ridiculous 3 hour rain delay on Saturday, the Phillies finally settled on a Sunday doubleheader to finish off the Rockies series.  Cole Hamels started the Day Game and allowed only 2 runs in 7 innings.

Chase Utley had his hands in a number of plays, including a hit, a walk and a very entertaining run scored:

The defense was solid, but the highlight was watching Ryan Howard hold onto the ball for an out after getting bowled over at 1st base by a Rockies player.  He also had 2 key RBI in the game.

The bullpen did not allow a run, setting up a 2-2 tie game going into the bottom of the 9th.

With the bases loaded and 1 out, John Mayberry Jr. connected for a game-winning, walk-off single.

The excitement continued in the Night Game, which turned out to be a comedy of errors for the Rockies.  They fumbled, dropped and just plain missed a lot of balls hit their way.  5 errors helped keep the Phillies alive after rookie starter Tyler Cloyd gave up 4 runs in 4 inning.

With the early exit, the Phillies wound up using 7 pitchers, none of whom allowed a run except Cloyd:

As it turns out, all the Phillies needed for the win besides pitching was Carlos Ruiz.  Fresh off the DL, Chooch got  a standing ovation when he stepped in to pinch hit.  And he promptly added to the Phillies fever with a single in the 6th that led to 2 runs and a Phillies lead.

Chooch stayed in the game to catch.  Ruiz was 2-for-2 with an RBI in his return, coming in cold off the DL, not having played a single inning in over a month.  No rehab start…nothing.  Just pure Chooch.  This guy is incredible.  Chooooooooooooooch!!!

The Phillies went on to win by a score of 7-4 to complete a 3-game sweep of the Rockies.

I have photos of both Game 1 and Game 2; just click the links.  Yes, it was a long day, but worth it!

The Marlins are up next….and a run at the postseason???  Hmmmm…..

“LIKE” us on Facebook for more updates & photos!

Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Howard Turns Boos to Cheers in Walk-Off Win

Since returning after spending half the season on the DL, Ryan Howard has not had much luck getting his bat going.  He struck out 3 times in today’s Phillies Diamondbacks game and each time, the boos got louder.  But in the 9th, Howard would redeem himself with a walk-off single to hand the Phillies a 5-4 victory and the series win.

Prior to that, Howard was not the only one hearing the boo birds.  Cliff Lee had a rough 2nd inning where he gave up back-to back homers to guys at the bottom of the D-Backs line-up.  His battery mate, Erik Kratz, tried to help him out with 2 hits and an RBI in the game, but Lee is becoming notorious for these odd ups and downs.

In case you missed it, catcher Carlos Ruiz is on the DL with a partial tear due to plantar fasciitis in his left foot.  So we will be seeing a lot of Kratz in the next 4-6 weeks.

The rest of the team sprinkled some offense here and there.  Chase Utley smashed a solo homer in the 5th.  And Domonic Brown went 2-for-4, which is a very good sign.

Brown also took flight on his way to 2nd base for a double.  It is not a bird or a plane, it is Super-Dom:

The Phillies also took advantage of D-Backs errors while managing to avoid most of their own recent blunders.

A run scored in the 8th to tie the game, which was the result of a D-Backs throwing error.  That set up the walk-off from Howard in the 9th.  Here is the full Photo Album from the game.

Tomorrow the Braves come to town, and although the Phillies have little to play for right now, a little revenge from the sweep last week may be in order.  Vance Worley will pitch; game time is 7:05pm.

“LIKE” us on Facebook for more updates & photos!

Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography