Results tagged ‘ Davey Lopes ’

Samuel Returns To Philly

The Phillies have hired ex-Phillie Juan Samuel to fill the void left when first base coach Davey Lopes walked after failed contract negotiations.  Samuel started his 16-year big league career with the Phillies, playing second base from 1983 to part of 1989. 
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Later in his career, Samuel played both second base and outfield positions and was known as an extremely versatile player.  More recently, he  coached third base for the Orioles and also served as interim manager when Dave Trembley was fired in June.

Samuel will take over as third base coach and outfield instructor for the Phillies while Sam Perlozzo moves to first base.  When asked about returning the Philadelphia, Samuel told reporters, “I couldn’t be happier.  I’m ecstatic going back and joining an elite group of players and manager.  It’s a dream come true.”  Samuel was inducted into the Phillies Wall of Fame in 2008 and has always been a fan favorite.  It will be nice to have him back.

In other news, the Phillies have made a small flurry of insignifigant moves in the past week or so.  They have signed Pete Orr, 31, to a minor league deal.  The infielder has spent much of his baseball career lingering in the minors where he hit .264.

In the catcher category, the Phils re-signed Dane Sardinha who hit .205 in his time with the Phils last year and .207 in the minors.  They also picked up Erik Kratz, 30, who hit .274 in the Pirates AAA system.


Bonine-Adult.jpgContinuing to add minor-league pitching, Eddie Bonine, 29, was added as well after spending time in the Tigers bullpen last year.  Bonine had a record of 4-1 with a 4.63 ERA in 47 appearances and one start in 2010.  His name indicates that he is good at preventing nausea, however, his stats indicate otherwise.  Yuck.  Well, at least they picked up one guy under 30….barely.

As for Jayson Werth, there is still little news.  He and his super-agent Scott Boras are out and about trying to see who is willing to get serious about overpaying the outfielder.  The odds of Werth returning to the Phillies lessen as each day passes.  But truthfully, the odds may have been close to 1% to begin with.  Don’t hold out hope…it is very unlikely that Werth will be back in red pinstripes.

 

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Lopes Moves On; Giants Are Champs

In their first major blunder of the off-season, the Phillies allowed 1st base coach and base running guru Davey Lopes walk.  Lopes was happy in Philadelphia, but with the additional responsibilities he has handled in his 4 years with the club, he felt he should be properly compensated.  Lopes told reporters, “I just felt it was time to make a stand.”

Normally first base coaches are low man on the totem pole as far as salary goes.  But Lopes did much more for the Phillies than point runners in the right direction. 
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He taught them how and when to steal bases and was the sole person in charge of the running game, something that is the manager’s job on most teams.   Since 2007, Lopes ensured that the Phillies led all of baseball with an 84.3% stolen base success rate.

Lopes is right; with the added responsibilities, he deserved a larger pay check.  He said the money they offered was good, but it did not reflect his true value to the team.  Lopes stated, “I wanted to get paid what I felt I was worth…Believe me, I wasn’t trying to break the bank.”  So, why not pay the man?

I spoke with Lopes during an event in 2009 about base stealing and also about player discipline.  I asked him why a particular player (who shall remain nameless ;o) continually seemed to be in the wrong field position during certain situations.  Lopes told me that he had personally spoken to that player about that exact issue on numerous occasions, but the player felt he knew better and would not follow instructions.  I then expressed that I did not think discipline should be part of his job, to which he agreed.  But Lopes is the kind of man that always does the right thing, whether it is his job or not.  So after four years of doing many tasks that he was not getting paid for, I can see why he felt the need to make a stand.

The real shame here is that when Lopes expressed this to the management team, it fell on deaf ears.  He should not have been allowed to walk.  Will the Phillies suffer as a result of this loss?  Only time will tell, but I can assure you that either way, he will be greatly missed by both the team and the fans.  I wish Mr. Lopes all the best in his future and hope he lands in a city that appreciates his talents.

And The New Champs Are…

…the San Francisco Giants!  Ok Phils fans, you can now officially feel better about the Giants whooping us in the NLCS; they did the same thing to the Rangers in the World Series, taking the title by 4 games to 1.  The Giants pitching totally shut down the Rangers powerful offense, just as they did to the Phillies.

Another thing to feel good about?  Cliff Lee lost both games he pitched in the series.  I will always appreciate Lee for what he did for the Phillies in 2009, but losing him stings a little bit less now.  It will be interesting to see where Lee lands in 2011.

So congratulations to the World Champion Giants and their fans…they deserve the title!  See you next year :O)

 

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

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More Good Pitching; Another Win

Very little happened in today’s Phillies – Padres match-up until the 5th inning.  Both pitchers were dealing and hits were few and far between.  Then Padres starter Jon Garland started the 5th off by hitting Jayson Werth with a pitch.  Raul Ibanez moved him over with a grounder and a single from Shane Victorino allowed Werth to score.

With a run finally on the board, Phillies starter Joe Blanton got into trouble later that same inning.  A walk and a couple of singles allowed tied the game.  But Victorino showed his defensive skills, throwing Nick Hundley out at the plate trying to score.

The Flyin’ Hawaiian was all over this game; Victorino smacked a triple in the 7th to score Werth again, who had walked earlier.  Then after an intentional walk to Carlos Ruiz, Mike Sweeney was put in to pinch hit for Blanton.  Sweeney hit a ground ball that was almost a double play.  Instead, he legged it out and Ruiz barreled into 2nd with a take-out slide; Sweeney was safe and Victorino scored. 

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The Padres paid little attention to Sweeney on first as he is not known for speed.  As a result, with a little prodding from first base coach Davey Lopes, Sweeney swiped his first bag in 4 years.  Sweeney’s enthusiasm and hustle are just what this team needs.  He fits in very well with the Phillies club.

Blanton ended his outing with just one run allowed in 6 innings; it was a great effort from Blanton.  After Blanton was pulled in the 7th, the 3-1 game was turned over to the Phillies bullpen.  Jose Contreras pitched a perfect 7th and Ryan Madson followed suit in the 8th.  You know what that means, right?  You guessed it….Brad Lidge time. (Gulp!)

After a horrible outing yesterday where Lidge balked in the tying run with 2 outs in the 9th, tonight was a different story.  With a strike-out, a pop-up and a fly ball, Lidge closed the game successfully, handing the Phillies a 3-1 win.

Game 3 with the Padres begins at 4:05pm tomorrow afternoon.  Cole Hamels will pitch and hopefully, put a 3-game sweep of the Padres in the bag.

 

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

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Utley: You Won’t Like Him When He’s Angry

Chase Utley got angry tonight and the Minnesota Twins paid the price.  After all the talk about Utley being injured after a comment made in an interview by first base coach, Davey Lopes, Utley came out tonight to prove everyone wrong.  Utley hulk.jpgHe swears he is not injured and based on his play tonight, who could argue?  Trust me Twins, you won’t like him when he’s angry.

Utley nailed an RBI single in the first inning and smashed a 3-run homer in the second.  He was a monster in the field as well.  Utley dove for a hard hit ground ball in the 3rd inning that would have been out of the reach of any normal human.  He snagged the ball while on the ground, got up and made the throw to first to end the inning.

Then in the 5th inning, Jason Kubel hit what looked like an inside-the-park home run.  Utley took the relay throw from Shane Victorino and threw Kubel out at the plate with a little help from catcher Carlos Ruiz.  Utley made a statement tonight.  Do not make him angry.  Or perhaps Lopes’ slip of the tongue was a huge favor; it lit a fire under Utley.  Clue for the Phils: Next time Utley is slumping, piss him off.

Ryan Howard must have taken the rumor about Utley to heart as well; he went 4 for 5 with TWO home runs, a triple and 3 RBI.  He and Utley went back-to-back with those homers.  But they were not alone in their offensive outburst.  The Phillies put 9 runs on the board all together with additional hits from Placido Polanco, Jayson Werth and others.

Joe Blanton bounced back after some very bad outings previous to tonight.  He did well through 6 innings, allowing just one run.  But the same mistake that has been made with Blanton all year long was made again; he was left in too long.  In the top of the 7th, he gave up a single and then a 2-run homer before he was replaced by Chad Durbin.  The shame of it is, Blanton could have left the game with only 1 run allowed, but the Phils continue to push him even when he looks tired.  The Phils had a huge lead, but the confidence boost Blanton should have left with may have been erased.

Overall, the game tonight was very intense, but not all of it was a good thing.  Both Werth and Victorino appeared to tweak a muscle running hard to first base.  They each stayed in the game, so that is a good sign.  Then in the 8th inning, Kubel shattered his bat which nailed Ruiz in the head and he lay motionless on the ground for a good amount of time.  Ruiz was taken out of the game and did walk off on his own so, hopefully, he will be okay.

The other excitement in tonight’s game was seeing Scott Mathieson pitch in the majors for the first time since 2006.  Two Tommy John surgeries later, and Mathieson was pumped up to make it back to the bigs.  A little too pumped up, because he gave up hit after hit in the 9th inning until the bases were loaded with one out.  After a wild pitch and two more runs scoring, Brad Lidge was brought in to finish the game which he did without issue.  Phils win, 9-5.

While Mathieson hit 99mph on the radar gun, the control was not there.  Lidge probably breathed a sigh of relief as his closing job is safe for now.  But this may have been a case of nerves and we will probably see Mathieson again soon.

Cole Hamels will pitch tomorrow; game time is 4:10pm.

 

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Lopes Spills The Beans About Utley

In an interview with Davey Lopes, the Phillies first base coach, published today by Baseball Prospectus, Lopes let it slip that Chase Utley is hurt.  When talking about the team’s lack of stealing bases, Lopes had several comments including this one:
Thumbnail image for P4190966 Utley.jpg “Chase [Utley] has been hampered by a little bit of a knee injury. That’s more than likely why our numbers are down, but it’s still confusing to me as to why they haven’t been as aggressive in attempting to steal.”

According to Lopes, this seems like a minor issue.  However, Utley has not been productive for a long time now.  In the entire month of June, Utley has just 9 hits in 49 at-bats with 2 RBI, no homers and only 2 extra-base hits, both doubles.  These numbers are not typical of a healthy Utley, but he constantly insists that he is healthy when questioned.

Hiding an injury is not new for Utley; his hip problem in 2008 which required off-season surgery was also not disclosed until then GM Pat Gillick let the cat out of the bag during an interview.  The same has happened again, only with Lopes as the loose-lipped culprit.

This begs the question, is Utley’s issue more serious than anyone knows and is he hurting the team by continuing to play?  If some time-off will help, he should take the time off and get himself straight.  While Utley’s tough-guy, play at all costs mentality is admirable, it is also not helping his team.  And the cloak and dagger technique used trying to hide the issue does nothing but prompt more questions and speculation.

According to CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said, “Davey Lopes is not a doctor,” and was quite upset about the comment.  Although, Amaro did admit to Utley having “soreness” in the knee, but not a full-fledged injury.  Yes, ball players get “sore” throughout the season.  So again, why all the cloak and dagger when this is a common occurrence among ball players? 

I am not a doctor either, but I am fairly certain that if a bear stops eating, something is wrong.  Bears like to eat; Utley likes to hit.  Right now, it is just not happening.

What are your thoughts on the subject?  Feel free to chime in below in the comments section.

 

Utley photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

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Wolf Devours Phils; Baseball 101 For Women

Since the game against our old pal Randy Wolf and the Dodgers was awful, let’s begin today with something fun!  Here is a recap of the Baseball 101 event for women held before the game yesterday:

P5133337 Werth.jpgThis now twice annual event included a behind the scenes tour, coaching from the Phillies staff, many guest speakers and an appearance by Jayson Werth.  Werth walked into the room and you would have thought it was Tom Cruise, judging from the reaction.  Women screamed and flash bulbs popped.  Werth talked openly to the group of 140 female fans and was surprisingly comical.  He talked about stealing home in Tuesday nights’ win over the Dodgers (turns out, it was all his idea and the 3rd base coach had no clue what was happening); Werth also gave us an overview of what it is like to travel as a Major League player, how he felt at the World Series parade, his baseball heritage and what it means to play as a team.  He was very impressive.

We also heard from Phillies broadcaster, Chris Wheeler, who walked us though his embarrassment of the strange dance he did behind Harry Kalas as he called the World Series win.  Wheels said he had no idea that he had actually looked that nuts until an hour and half later when he saw the replay.  Mitch Williams was also exceptionally informative, and very, very funny.  Williams should be a stand-up comic.  He had the room almost in tears as he discussed how we have not lived until we’ve seen John Kruk naked, how he (Williams) does not wear pants during his broadcasts and a variety of other topics.  And Larry Andersen, another former player and current broadcaster, was equally entertaining with his tales of Kalas and honest expressions of dislike for umpires.

Below, you will see Williams, Andersen and a very surreal moment as well; Tom Burgoyne, friend of the Phanatic, with the Phanatic!  A true “out of body” experience :O)

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At one point, all the women broke into teams and travelled around the stadium, with stops in the bullpen, the batting cages and on the field to run the bases and work on throwing and fielding with the Phillies coaching staff.  Sam Perlozzo and Davey Lopes directed us on the field; Milt Thompson and Pete Mackanin let us swing away in the cages; and Rich Dubee and Mick Billmeyer let us throw pitches off the mound in the pen.  They gave us the inside scoop, just like we were real major leaguers.  My favorite coach comment of the day came when I asked what changes we could expect to see when JC Romero returns to the team.  Billmeyer chimed in immediately with, “We will get better!”  Well said :O)

And a first for Baseball 101 was the behind the scenes tour of the player areas:  the clubhouse, their kitchen and even the training room.  I can tell you several things from this experience.  First, Chad Durbin has a sweet tooth and likes crossword puzzles; some players seem to have a shoe fetish; Ryan Howard uses the same baby powder that I do; and doing laundry for the Phillies is a very interesting job!  Here are a few sights from the clubhouse:

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I took tons of photos and was surprised by a few things I saw just “hanging” around.  I heard myself mutter as I peered into lockers, “Is that…(you fill in the blank)???  Oh my, yes it is.”  Use your imagination.  Nothing out of the baseball realm, but still a bit weird to see up close ;O)

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So after the all-day event which began at 8:45am, we sat down to watch the game which started at 7:05pm.  Sleepy, but it was worth it.  We had a good 3 innings and Jamie Moyer looked like he may knock out every Dodger that faced him, but come the 4th inning, the bottom dropped out and it all went downhill from there.  7 runs allowed in only 4 1/3 innings and Moyer still cannot find his 250th win.  However, I think that was the least of his worries last night.  With the struggles in this starting rotation, I would not be surprised to see some changes very soon.  Charlie Manuel has announced that JA Happ will start one of the games of the double-header on Saturday against the Nats; no word on what will happen after that.  Happ may be pitching that day for his chance to win a spot in the rotation.

On again to more pleasant things:  Here is the Photo Album from my day in baseball-land which includes the photos in this post and more.  And don’t forget to tune in to the game this afternoon, which is an early start of 1:05pm to finish the Dodgers series.  Hoping the Phillies can pull out a winning series!

Photos by Jenn

Tales From The Strange Side…

Pajama Party

The highlight of today’s final Spring Training practice came when the players dressed in front of the crowd.  Each fielder donned a black or blue pair of Slip-N-Slide-type nylon pants and tossed their cleats aside, wandering about in only their red socks.  It looked like they were all wearing footy pajamas and having a sleep-over.  Here is a look featuring Eric Bruntlett pulling up his pants:

The outfits, as it turns out, were part of a base sliding drill.  Interesting as it was to see them sliding around, the socks and baggy pants were the real entertainment.

Utley’s Rehab

Prior to the sliding drill, players worked with Davey Lopes on base running techniques, running from home to 3rd, 1st to 2nd, 1st to 3rd, etc…  Chase Utley participated in the runs at full speed and looked very comfortable.  He is turning corners without hesitation, running through the bases and seems to have gotten most of his flexibility back.  Good news for Phillies fans!

Photo Highlights

Utley and the rest if the group were in high spirits again; here are a few highlights from the day during batting practice and fielding with Utley, Shane Victorino and Ryan Howard:

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And a few shots of the pitchers; Chan Ho Park, Chad Durbin and Brett Myers, who appears to be measuring something??  You decide:

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A Tall Tale?

Speaking of Utley, I received some information today from a fellow fan about the “World F*@ Champions” debacle after the World Series parade.  Keep in mind that this is third party information and not confirmed; according to fan accounts, Pat Burrell has been sharing his Parade tale while at Rays camp with anyone who cares to listen.  Rumor has it, Pat told fans that prior to the Parade speeches, Utley asked him if he thought he should let the F-Bomb fly or not.  Utley was under the impression that it would not be live TV and tried to confirm that through Burrell.  Burrell claimed ignorance, and the fun ensued.  If you watch the tape back, you will see that right before Utley blurted out the cuss word, it appears that he turned and looked directly at Pat Burrell.  True or not, I cannot be positive; but either way, an interesting story.  Utley is the only one who really knows what happened.  I do still think it was very funny, whether planned or not :O)  Anyway, this one will get filed with the myth of the Chupacabra for now – no one knows for sure if it really existed ;O)

 

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Baseball 101 Clinic for Women

Yesterday I attended the Phillies Baseball 101 for women which was an all-day clinic where we were given the opportunity to meet with and be coached by the entire Phillies staff. 125 women took the field in Pat Burrell’s territory to stretch out before beginning the day. Then, we split up into smaller groups to work with the coaches in each of four stations: hitting, base running, fielding and pitching.

Jimy Williams and Milt Thompson awaited us in the Phillies indoor batting cages where each lady received personal instruction and got to take 5 whacks at the ball off the same tee that Chase Utley uses every day. Steve Smith gave lessons on throwing and fielding and was also happy to answer any and all questions we had about any of the players, no matter how personal or ridiculous. Have to say, I could write an entire 5 pages on all I heard from Steve, but I feel almost impolite about spilling the beans on him… From the more specific reasons Shane got moved to right field to how badly he misses Aaron Rowand (as a friend…don’t worry he still loves our outfielders!)…Steve is a fun guy to talk to :o) So skipping the details, on to base running! Looking quite well for a man recovering from prostate cancer, Davey Lopes literally took us around the diamond and talked about the do’s and don’ts of base running and then we had free reign of the base path to go wild, if we so chose. And finally, in the bullpen, the always entertaining Rich Dubee showed everyone how to throw a pitch, explained the ever elusive balk rule and then each lady tossed a few pitches at Ramon Henderson and Mick Billmeyer, who were brave enough to go it without the face masks.

After all the on the field fun, we had tons of guest speakers! – Michael Barkann of Comcast Sportsnet, John Clark of NBC, Tom McCarthy (broadcaster), Susan Ingersoll Papaneri (Director, Baseball Administration), Jen Utley (yes, Chase’s wife!), one of the ball girls, Ruben Amaro Jr., and the BIG speaker of the day, Greg Dobbs who stood RIGHT in front of me! Whooo hooo! I took a lot of video and will be posting as much as I can on my You Tube page in the next few days and a few bits here. First, let’s begin with the NBC 10 special which I promised to post. Now, 5 ladies, myself included were chosen for the special and told we were to be interviewed and filmed hitting on the field. Well, we did hit, we were filmed, but they never did the interviews (except some other lady later on) and they cut all but one of the ladies out of the final special. Not sure what that was all about except that the guy doing the interviews was kind of a knucklehead. You’ll see in the film…he makes fun of Ryan Howard, Jamie Moyer and Mitch Williams all in the span of like 3 minutes. We were all booing him in the background but they managed to cut out that part too. Well, you do see me for like 2 seconds at the beginning standing in the dugout and for like 2 tenths of a second after the one girl bats she hands me the bat. But, that’s about it. Here’s the piece just for posterity:

Here is a slightly more interesting piece. You’ll hear me asking a question to Assistant GM Ruben Amaro Jr. about Chad Durbin. You can see the rest of the Q&A session on my You Tube page. Ruben was surprisingly open and candid and answered a lot of very good questions.

And here is the question I asked Greg Dobbs as I had the video camera practically shoved right up his adorable little nose. Which, of course, Scott Palmer just had to point out. :o) The rest of the Dobbs segment will also be on the You Tube page along with segments from the Jen Utley interview, Harry Kalas meet and greet and other bits from the days events as I slowly get them uploaded over the next day or so. Pictures should be done tomorrow and I will post an update when that is done. So, here is Greg…

And this just in, Cole Hamels pitches a COMPLETE GAME SHUT-OUT!!!!!! WHOOO HOOO!!!!!!!!! You gotta love that!!!!! That’s picking up your team when they SOOOOOOO need it! Go Phillies!!!!!!!!!!!

UPDATE 5/16:  Baseball 101 photos have been uploaded!  Check them out.  And keep checking the You Tube page….more videos have been added there as well.

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