Results tagged ‘ Spring Training ’
Yesterday I posed a question about Chase Utley and his health. Today, the Phillies finally spilled the beans and admitted that Utley has tendinitis in his right knee. An MRI revealed the issue which requires rest in order to heal.
While Utley has agreed to take things slow, the injury is still worrisome. According to the Mayo Clinic, knee tendinitis can involve a grocery list of complications including weakened leg muscles due to overcompensation, tendon tears and chronic pain. The recovery time is anywhere from weeks to months.
In my own personal experience, tendinitis can be chronic and linger for years. Utley has already stated that this is a condition he has dealt with in the past, so it appears to be an ongoing issue. How much it will hamper his future performance remains to be seen. But for now, it is not good news.
On to another sore subject, Jayson Werth made a very bad error in judgment this week when he trash-talked his former team. The Washington Post reported that Werth stated, “I hate the Phillies, too,” during a conversation with his new GM, Mike Rizzo.
I wonder which parts he hated. Could it be his 2008 World Series ring? Or maybe it was all the attention from fans who routinely professed their admiration of him? No, I’ll bet it was that the Phillies signed him when every other team in baseball assumed he was a washed-up, injury prone discard.
Then again, Werth is a National now. And I suppose all Nationals hate Philly for winning four straight division titles while they have done nothing but suck since moving to DC in 2005. Sounds like sour grapes from an underperforming club that has to beg fans of opponents to come to their ballpark just to sell tickets.
In another interview about Phillies fans outnumbering Nats fans in DC, Werth also said, “The reason why those people come over here is they don’t have a chance to watch their team in Philadelphia and as soon as we fill the seats with Nats fans those people are going to go away and we are going to regain homefield advantage and I am looking forward to that day too.”
News flash Werth – We see our team in Philly all the time. The reason most of us go to DC is because Nats tickets are super easy to get. And we do not mind the drive because we love and support our team, unlike most Nats fans who cannot be bothered to show up.
I will be honest; Werth has never been a favorite of mine. I have seen him treat fans badly and even watched him make rude, ignorant comments to small children who were politely asking for an autograph during a previous spring training. So frankly, the “hate” comment does not shock me.
But if Werth thinks his $126 million paycheck is going to fill seats in DC, he is in for a rude awakening. And if he is expecting a Pat Burrell-like greeting upon his return to Philadelphia, I am not sure that “rude awakening” would even begin to cover what Philly has in store for him.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
Baseball is finally back! After an 8-0 win in an exhibition game against Florida State on Thursday, the Phillies took on the Yankees today in the first official spring training game. Cole Hamels started in the 5-4 victory and went 2 innings allowing an unearned run.
Notably absent from the game were short stop Jimmy Rollins and second baseman Chase Utley. Rollins was said to be a healthy scratch after missing a few days of camp for a Motown event at the White House. The absences were excused.
The Motown Tribute was held for President Obama in celebration of Black History Month lead by musicians Stevie Wonder and Smokey Robinson. And while that sounds like lots of fun, it also does not appear that Rollins was required to be there for any reason.
J-Roll is in the music business and has his own label, but his job right now is baseball. Leaving his team for two days to schmooze with famous musicians seems irresponsible. Outside interests should be left for the off-season. Of course, that is just my humble opinion.
As for Utley, rumors have been flying about his physical condition. Mentions of “soreness” in his knees and legs are raising eyebrows. Utley missed both the exhibition game and the first official game this week after “intense workouts” during the first week of camp. He may not play tomorrow either.
Utley has been developing a pattern of injuries over the past several years which are becoming alarming. Rumors of a hip injury followed him throughout the second half of 2008. After winning the World Series, he did finally undergo surgery.
His health was questioned after that for much of the 2009 season, although he did not miss signifigant time. In 2010, Utley sprained his thumb and was put on the DL in June. The injury was more serious than initially disclosed and Utley had to undergo surgery on the thumb. He missed 47 games that year.
Not only have the injuries become a pattern, but so has disguising them. A war of words ensued in 2008 when then GM Pat Gillick slipped and told a reporter that Utley was experiencing hip problems. Utley vehemently denied the statement, yet in the offseason, it became apparent that Gillick was telling the truth as Utley had hip surgery.
The thumb injury was underplayed as well in 2010. Now, when rumors of Utley’s health arise, most are inclined to think there is truth to the rumor. Then when Utley drops coy comments to reporters like, “If there’s cause for concern you’ll be the first to know,” it leads people to wonder if they should be worried.
Utley is not a big guy. His weight has been generously listed as 190 pounds on his MLB bio page. His smaller than average baseball player frame has led to questions about his endurance for years. When the previous injuries and previous denials about injuries are all mixed in, it is a recipe for trouble.
The current issue may just be a simple matter of Utley being over-zealous and working himself too hard in camp. But until he gets into a regular spring routine, the questions will linger.
In Other News
- It appears that the Phillies have lost out on relief pitcher Chad Durbin. Offered a minor league deal, Durbin decided instead to sign with the Cleveland Indians on a one-year contract. Durbin is a great guy and he will be missed. I wish him all the best!
- Another relief pitcher, Danys Baez, was a huge disappointment last year. But after signing a two-year deal, the Phillies are stuck with him and hope he can rebound. However, in a B-game today, Baez allowed five hits, five runs and one walk in just two-thirds of an inning. Not good. Even sadder, the $2.75 million he will be paid this year could have been put to better use, like signing Durbin.
The Phillies next spring action is tomorrow and they will again face the Yankees, this time at home in Clearwater. Game time is 1:00pm.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
Spring Training is the best time to add to your autograph collection. The atmosphere is laid back, everyone is relaxed and enjoying themselves and you can find many unique, up-close opportunities with the players.
If you are lucky enough to be in Clearwater, Florida from mid February to late March, chances are good that you will get some autographs. But to make it easier, you will need to know a few autograph-hunting secrets specific to the Clearwater area.
From specific locations to proven methods, the following is a list of the top 10 ways to get Phillies’ autographs at Spring Training.
#1: Be Prepared
Before heading off to Clearwater, think about what you would like signed and by whom. Also consider the size, weight and practicality of these items before stuffing your suitcase. Bats and other large items are heavy and difficult to pack, especially if you are flying. Balls, photos and small figurines are fairly simple.
Once you have a plan, be ready to execute that plan in a matter of seconds. Players will not stand around and wait for you to find what you want signed or to search for a pen. Try to carry all items on your person in a convenient place.
For example, I hand sewed the bag in the photo and designed it specifically for 5×7 photos and Sharpies. Inside the bag are hard, plastic photo holders that are open at the top to easily remove a photo. Each photo is labeled with a name tag for easy identification and removal from the bag.
I also sewed in pockets to hold pens and markers. The long shoulder strap I added keeps it close to me at all times and my hands are free to do other things while I wait for an autograph opportunity.
While not everyone is super crafty or good with a sewing machine, this just gives you an idea of what to think about when getting prepared for autographs.
#2: Practice, Practice, Practice
Get to Clearwater early, before the games begin, and attend as many practice sessions as you can. Practice is held at the Carpenter Complex next door to Bright House Field and usually starts around 9:00am and ends somewhere between 12:00pm and 1:00pm, weather permitting.
Practices are free and open to the public. There are four outdoor baseball fields arranged in a box pattern and the bleachers in between are for fans to sit and watch. Usually, all fields are in use at once and players may hop between fields to work on different skills or with different staff and players.
Place yourself in one of the areas in between two of the fields where the players will pass by. If they are not busy, they may stop and sign. There is usually a short fence to keep you out of their area, but the players can walk right up to the fence and sign.
There are food vendors and restrooms for fans to use at this facility, so stay as long as you like. Sometimes, right as practice ends and the team heads inside, a player will walk over to the fans who still remain and sign for a few minutes. So staying late can pay off as well.
#3: The Early Bird Gets The Worm
At this same Carpenter Complex, there are opportunities to get autographs outside of scheduled practice and game times. If you are an early bird, this lesser-known secret is the one for you.
There is a tall, black metal fence that surrounds the complex and secures the player parking area. Many players walk right past this fence after parking to head inside and prepare for the day.
Stand right up against this fence and wait. You can stand on either the side nearest the practice fields by the fan parking lot or on the other side, nearer to Bright House Field. If a player walks by, ask for an autograph.
The photo to the left shows former Phillie Lou Marson signing at the fence.
#4: Persistence Pays
This same method as in the previous slide works after practice or games as well. Although, this requires a lot of patience. Most players do not leave to go home right away and some stay very late to either eat, receive injury treatments or get extra practice time. Most have gone home by 4:00pm.
Also keep in mind that the bigger name players usually park in the back of the building. You can see them drive by, but they are not likely to stop at the fence.
If you are at the fence early in the morning, make note of which players park on which side. Then when you stay after practice, you have a better idea of who will be walking past you and on which side of the fence.
#5: Get Them While They’re Young
Just because a player is not a super star yet, does not mean he will not be someday down the road. Getting autographs from lesser known and younger players can pay off in the long run.
Plus, most minor league players are actually excited to sign for you. Because not many people ask for their autographs, not only will most of them sign, many will hang around and chat with you as well.
Minor league players, many of whom are star-struck at playing with the big boys, are full of fun and interesting information. You never know what you might find out. I will let you use your imagination on that one.
#6: Do Your Homework
While the younger players are easier to get autographs from, some can be shy and slightly more reclusive. In those cases, it pays to do your homework and figure out who is who so you can call them by name.
I once had a minor league player tell me, “I will sign that ball and give you my practice bat if you can tell me what my name is.” I did tell him his name and he did sign the ball. Sadly, I could not coax the bat out of his hand. I assume he thought there was no way I knew who he was.
Another time, I called a player by name and he literally came running over, telling me how excited he was that I knew his name. He then spent the next fifteen minutes talking my ear off about his day at practice.
While he chatted, other players came over to see what was happening and I got three more autographs. It was a chain reaction.
So do yourself a favor and look up names and photos of players who will be at Spring Training before you go. Carry their photos with you if necessary and go get some autographs.
#7: Game Time
Regular practices in Clearwater end when the games begin. If you do not arrive in time to attend a practice, you can still get autographs at the games.
The first thing you need to know is that the “home” side of the ballpark in Clearwater is the third base side. This is the opposite of the ballpark in Philly.
When purchasing game tickets, the best seats for getting autographs are sections 120, 119 and 118. These are along the left field wall where the players enter the field to head for the dugout. You can get autographs as they walk past.
You can also stand in these sections before the game starts and try your luck. However, about an hour before the games starts, the ushers will check tickets and toss you out off that section unless you have a ticket for the area.
If you get tossed out before the players walk by, you are out of luck. The best way to ensure a shot at an autograph here is to buy a ticket for one of those sections.
#8: Keep Your Eyes Peeled
While in Clearwater, you may run into players in odd places like the local mall, bars or restaurants. Carry supplies with you everywhere you go, just in case.
The same is true while the team is on road trips in the regular season. I once ran smack into Jayson Werth on the street in San Francisco in a shopping district.
Wherever you go, keep your eyes peeled for wandering players. Just remember to be courteous and not interrupt them while they have a mouthful of food or appear to be otherwise engaged.
#9: Sugar and Spice Isn’t All That’s Nice
The following is a rule I see people break all the time. Do not be rude and obnoxious when attempting to get an autograph.
This does not only include being courteous to the players, but to fellow fans as well. If someone got to the front of the line or fence ahead of you, do not try to push your way to the front. Wait your turn and be respectful.
Once at the Blue Jays stadium in Dunedin, Florida, I stood up against the left field fence for two hours waiting for the team to come out and warm up. When they finally did, a few players came to the fence to sign.
Some woman behind me who had just arrived was literally trying to climb up my back to get at the player. As he was signing my item, the same woman bashed me in the head trying to thrust a baseball at the player.
The player saw what happened and asked me if I was alright. He then shook his head disapprovingly at the rude woman and walked away without signing anything for her.
You can be sure that player will remember that and avoid her again in the future. Do not be that person.
Help your fellow fans instead. Had the woman been respectful, I would gladly have helped her get the autograph by either stepping aside or handing the ball over for her if she could not reach. As a general rule, just be kind.
#10: Make New Friends
You never know who might help you get your next autograph. Talk to other fans, make friends with the ushers at the ballpark and chat with the locals.
One of those people may have information you do not. One of those people may be able to assist you if, for instance, you cannot get to the front of a line and they are willing to hand your item to a player to get signed.
Ushers especially are fun to talk to and they are usually bored as well. I have had ushers give me foul balls, tell me great stories and once, I even got a signed baseball card. He said it was an extra and wanted me to have it.
I have even had other fans hand me things for free as thanks for information I provided them with or just to be nice. One time, Charlie Manuel came over to a group of fans I was with but I had forgotten my pictures in the car that I was using for autographs. Another fan said he had plenty and gave me one of his photos to use.
I have made friends and kept in contact with many people I met at Spring Training. So while the autographs are nice, making new friends that share your love for baseball is even better.
Good luck and have fun!
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
February and March are ideal months to visit Clearwater, Florida. It is not too hot, not too cold and even better, the Phillies are there for spring training.
The list to follow is an excellent guide to both Phillies spring training and the Clearwater area in general. Whether or not you have ever been to Clearwater before, you should find this information very useful or at the very least, entertaining.
However, be forewarned. Spring training in Clearwater can be addictive and may turn into a lifelong habit. There is currently no support group for spring training addicts so, managing this addiction will be up to you. Just remember to bring friends to share the fun.
Everybody loves free and Phillies practices in Clearwater are just that. Once the whole team has reported and before games begin, daily practices are held at the Carpenter Complex next door to Bright House Field. Practice usually starts around 9:00am and runs until about 1:00pm, weather permitting.
There are four outdoor baseball fields at the Carpenter Complex arranged in a box pattern and the bleachers in between are for fans to sit and watch. Usually, all fields are in use at once and players may hop between fields to work on different skills or with different staff and players.
You will be able to wander around to see what is going on at all four fields. Some activities you can watch include pop fly drills, pitching practice, run-down drills, fielding practice and of course, batting. The sliding drills are especially fun to see as the players put on special “sliding pants” to reduce resistance and risk of injury.
There are public facilities on the grounds as well which include bathrooms and food vendors. The staff even sell some souvenirs. Parking is free as well so stay as long as you like.
Also keep in mind that practices can be a good time to get autographs from players.
Attend Games At Bright House Field
Unlike practices, games at Bright House Field are not free. But they are fairly cheap. Prices run from $13 to $34 per ticket.
In previous years, getting a ticket to a spring training game was relatively easy and could be done at the last minute. However, since the Phillies won the World Championship in 2008, spring training games are now much hotter items. Plan ahead and order tickets early.
Keep in mind when getting tickets that the home side at this ballpark is the third base side. So if it matters to you, you will know which side you prefer to sit on before buying.
Other games, called “B” games, mean the Phillies will be split into groups for the day. Some play in the regular game and others play the “B” game instead. Many of the “B” game players are those needing extra batting practice or players recovering from an injury and on some sort of physical restriction.
If you see a “B” game listed on a schedule, those are sometimes played before regular scheduled games at Bright House Field and are usually included with your ticket for that day. Other “B” games are played at the Carpenter Complex and are usually free and open to the public.
Visit Other Grapefruit League Ballparks
There are some really nice and interesting ballparks in Florida. When the Phillies have an away game, try going to see them at another park. Tickets are available through the home team’s web site or in person at their box office.
Here are the other Florida ballparks with the approximate driving distances from Clearwater:
- 5 miles, Toronto Blue Jays, Florida Auto Exchange Stadium, Dunedin, FL
- 22 miles, New York Yankees, Steinbrenner Field, Tampa, FL
- 42 miles, Pittsburgh Pirates, McKechnie Field, Bradenton, FL
- 54 miles, Baltimore Orioles, Ed Smith Stadium , Sarasota, FL
- 59 miles, Detroit Tigers, Joker Marchant Stadium, Lakeland, FL
- 94 miles, Atlanta Braves, Champion Stadium, Lake Buena Vista, FL
- 97 miles, Tampa Bay Rays, Charlotte County Sports Park, Port Charlotte, FL
- 98 miles, Houston Astros, Osceola County Stadium, Kissimmee, FL
- 128 miles, Boston Red Sox, City of Palms Park, Ft. Myers, FL
- 128 miles, Minnesota Twins, Hammond Stadium, Ft. Myers, FL
- 152 miles, Washington Nationals, Space Coast Stadium, Viera, FL
- 178 miles, New York Mets, Digital Domain Park, Port St. Lucie, FL
- 208 miles, St. Louis Cardinals, Roger Dean Stadium, Jupiter, FL
- 208 miles, Florida Marlins, Roger Dean Stadium, Jupiter, FL
Of the closest ballparks, the Blue Jays in Dunedin is the easiest to get to. The Yankees in Tampa would be second. Steinbrenner Field is one of the nicer stadiums and has nice scenery with fountains, trees and a view of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers stadium across the street.
The Pirates’ McKechnie Field in Bradenton is one of the oldest parks in the area, built in 1923. Although it was renovated in the early 90’s, the park still boasts the original 1920’s Spanish-mission style architecture including the masonry, stucco and structural steel materials. The seats are super tiny and very close together for a “get to know your neighbor” feel.
There are also several stadiums in the Orlando-Disney area including the Atlanta Braves’ Champion Stadium and the Houston Astros, Osceola County Stadium. You could make this a combination trip if you would like to visit any Orlando-area attractions.
Some stadiums are very far away and should be considered only for overnight trips or by extremely adventurous fans.
Spring training is a great time to get autographs from players. The atmosphere is very relaxed and most players are in a good mood. Depending on your level of dedication to this task, autographs can be obtained at practices, before and after games and even around town if you happen to bump into a player in public.
My next article will include a detailed list of the best ways and locations to get player autographs. Check back for that soon.
Have a Drink At Frenchy’s Tiki Pavilion
Inside Bright House Field at the corner of left field is Frenchy’s Tiki Pavilion. This full-service bar is open for every home game and is a great place to mingle with other fans, watch the game and have a cocktail.
You can even buy a game ticket in the “Tiki Terrace” section to guarantee a spot close to the bar. The stools which are directly at the bar are first come, first serve.
The bar service continues to run after the game as well. Some Phillies players have been known to stop by there to chat with fans or have a drink. Brett Myers, now with the Astros, was commonly found at the Tiki bar after games in years past. I also saw Ryan Howard pass by there after a game one time.
Shop At The Diamond Outfitter’s Clubhouse Store
The souvenir store at Bright House Field is called Diamond Outfitters and is located next to the ballpark’s west entry. You can enter the store both from inside and outside the ballpark, depending on game schedules.
Diamond Outfitters is a great place to shop for Phillies gear. They carry almost anything you can imagine such as tee-shirts, hats, raincoats, umbrellas, pens, trinkets, pins, souvenir bats and balls and more.
And if you ever wanted a Phillies hat with a palm tree on it, this is the place. The store is open on non-game days as well which is the perfect time to avoid large crowds as well.
Go To The Legends Game
This year, Bright House Field will host the Legends Game on March 13, 2011 at 5:30pm to benefit the Children’s Cancer Center. The event is presented by the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association and will be attended by both former MLB players and national celebrities.
Some of the guests scheduled to appear this year are Hall of Famer Jim Bunning, Bob Boone, Darren Daulton, Von Hayes, Mickey Morandini, Steve Bedrosian, Jeff Kent, comedian Larry “The Cable Guy,” and meteorologist Dave Osterberg.
You can order tickets online through the Phillies web site.
Hang At The Beach
Unfortunately, at some point during your trip to Florida, there will come a time when there are no baseball-related activities going on. Take advantage of this opportunity and see what else Florida has to offer.
At Clearwater Beach, there is a nightly festival at Pier 60. The four-hour festival runs from two hours before to two hours after sundown. Jugglers, magicians, and a variety of entertainers perform for the crowd that gathers each evening. There are also local vendors selling jewelry, art work and souvenirs at very good prices.
And of course, there is the beach itself. Take a swim or simply relax on the white, powdery sand and soak up the warm sun rays.
See The Sights
The Clearwater are has much more to offer than just a beach. There are boat tours, dolphin watching, the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, spas, an art center and lots of great places to shop.
Just outside of Clearwater, take a drive to Tampa. You can visit Busch Gardens or take in the nightlife at Ybor City.
About 15 miles north of Clearwater, check out Tarpon Springs and the Sponge Docks for shopping, eco-tours, authentic Greek cuisine. You can also take Greek Cultural Classes and Workshops to learn about the areas fascinating history and customs.
For a longer road trip, head north east to Orlando. The two-hour drive is worth it if you are interested in Disney attractions, Sea World, Universal Studios and other fun family adventures.
Florida is a state rich in history. There are a wide range of options here to broaden your horizons.
Florida Holocaust Memorial Museum and Educational Center in St. Petersburg is the third largest of its kind in America. Check out the photography and documentary exhibits collected from all over the world.
If your childhood dream was to be an astronaut, you will not want to miss the Kennedy Space Center located 45 miles east of Orlando. It is a long drive, but if you have the time, the history here is amazing.
Closer to Clearwater, you can visit the Museum of Science and Industry in Tampa, the Dunedin Historical Museum or Heritage Village in Largo which is an open-air living history museum featuring 23 turn-of-the-century structures.
Now, pack your bags, grab some friends and prepare to have an amazing time in Florida!
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
In honor of spring training and Valentine’s Day, I composed a short poem:
Pinstripes are red,
BP jersey’s are blue,
The Phillies are in camp,
Time to bid winter adieu!
Happy Valentine’s Day! Happy Spring Training!
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
In mid-November, the Phillies invited 12 players to Spring Training as non-roster invitees. Today they announced seven more NRI’s will join the group for a total of 19.
The previous 12 announced are as follows:
Josh Barfield, INF
Eddie Bonine, RHP
Tagg Bozied, INF/OF
Ryan Feierabend, LHP
Erik Kratz, C
Jeff Larish, INF
Dan Meyer, LHP
Matt Miller, OF
Brandon Moss, OF
Pete Orr, INF
Juan Perez, LHP
Dane Sardinha, C
The additional seven will be:
Brian Bass, RHP
Tuffy Gosewisch, C
Joel Naughton, C
Robb Quinlan, INF
Michael Schwimer, RHP
Michael Stutes, RHP
Delwyn Young, INF/OF
Of these seven, Bass, Young and Quinlan had some time in the majors in 2010. None of the three had much success, although Young finished third in the majors with 16 pinch hits.
As for the minor leaguers, Gosewisch is invited every year to help with catching duties and then sent back to the minors. The other three have much in common. Naughton, Schwimer and Stutes, are all 24-years old and they all have great potential.
Naughton hit .308 with five homers and 31 RBI in 51 games for single-A Clearwater in 2010. He is good with runners in scoring position, hitting .426 in that situation. But he is also injury-prone, having been on the DL twice in 2010.
Schwimer pitched for both between double-A Reading and triple-A Lehigh Valley in 2010. His combined ERA was 2.85 in 48 games and of those, 36 were scoreless appearances.
As for Stutes, between Reading and Lehigh Valley in 2010, he collected three saves, a record of 7-1 and a 3.42 ERA in 53 games. His career ERA is 3.36 over 93 games with a 22-11 record.
Naughton photo by lakelandlocal on Flickr
The Phillies added one more alumni back to the organization this week. Former Phils All-Star 2nd baseman, Mickey Morandini has been assigned to manage Class A Williamsport next season. He had been coaching High School baseball and also helped out the Phillies during Spring Training over the past several years as well. Morandini joins other former teammates hired this offseason in coaching roles including Juan Samuel and Ryne Sandberg.
Earlier this week as well, the Phillies picked out 5 young players to add to the 40-man roster in order to protect them from being selected in the Rule-5 draft. This is the current roster below with those 5 players highlighted in blue and I added their fielding positions as well:
In addition to these players, 12 non-roster players have been invited to Spring Training:
- Josh Barfield, INF
- Eddie Bonine, RHP
- Tagg Bozied, INF/OF
- Ryan Feierabend, LHP
- Erik Kratz, C
- Jeff Larish, INF
- Dan Meyer, LHP
- Matt Miller, OF
- Brandon Moss, OF
- Pete Orr, INF
- Juan Perez, LHP
- Dane Sardinha, C
Most of these players have a good amount of major league experience and if they do not make the team, they will probably help fill up the AAA roster. It is thought that if southern Jersey native Dan Meyer is healthy, he may have a shot at a bullpen spot. And Pete Orr could end up as a utility man since he plays multiple positions. The rest are long shots.
This list of players also means we have likely seen the last of Mike Sweeney, which is very sad. Many had hoped he would at least get an invitation to spring training as he was a powerful positive force in the clubhouse since arriving in Philly. He may choose to retire; whatever he does, we wish him the best! Sweeney’s team spirit and upbeat attitude will be missed.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
The first inning of today’s Phillies – Padres match-up was a microcosm of the issues that have been plaguing the Phils since the middle of May. The offense started off with two hits, then they loaded the bases with one out and Jayson Werth hit a weak grounder into a double play to end the inning. Two batters before that, Chase Utley had popped out with 2 men on base.
Werth and Utley, previously two of the teams’ best hitters, are quickly becoming the poster-children for killing rallies. Phillies fans everywhere are losing patience waiting for the two sluggers to find their swings again. Fans used to look forward to seeing them bat. Now, all you can do is cringe when they step to the plate and begin counting the different ways they might kill an inning; will it be a double play? A pop-up? A strike-out? Or maybe the bat will spontaneously combust due to lack of use, rendering him helpless at the plate…the possibilities are endless.
Once again, the real victim of this disgusting and seemingly unending offensive slump is the starting pitcher.
Cole Hamels had a no-hitter working through 6 innings. He finally surrendered back-to-back homers in the 7th to end the streak, but with just those two runs allowed, Hamels more than did his job. It is just one more outstanding pitching performance gone to waste by the Phils offensive offense.
Eight full innings and just 3 hits later, Hamels found himself still without any assistance from his teammates. The pinch hitters failed again in the bottom of the 8th with both Greg Dobbs and Ross Gload going down in flames. Danys Baez pitched the 9th and put the Phillies in a deeper hole by giving up a homer to Adrian Gonzalez, his second of the night.
The Phillies tried to battle back in the bottom of the 9th; Placido Polanco singled, followed by another Utley out. Ryan Howard drove Polanco in but then Werth stepped to the plate and, as has been the trend, he struck out. The Phillies lose 1-3, but I suppose the good news is that at least it was not another shut-out.
Besides the huge disappointment today in the Phillies majors, the minor leagues reported one more bit if depressing news. The “big” prospect the Phillies got in the Cliff Lee trade, pitcher Phillipe Aumont, was demoted to single-A ball after sporting a 10.61 ERA in AA-ball. Remember back in Spring Training when the same guy gave up 5 runs in 2/3 of an inning in an exhibition game against a college team in his first Phillies action? And afterwards, he blamed it on the pressure of being traded for Cliff Lee? Oh yeah, that guy.
So, we get our first peek at how beneficial that trade really was. If Aumont cannot handle pressure, what good is he? And do you really think the Mariners were unaware of this when they sent him packing? I doubt it. Talent and potential are great, but I am pretty sure in the life-game of rock, paper, scissors, that mental toughness trumps both. But hey, Lee will be available again at the trade deadline this year; think the Mariners will take Aumont back? Ha, ha…I crack myself up ;o)
The draft took place tonight and the Phillies have selected a local; Jesse Biddle, a left-handed pitcher, from Philly. Best of luck to the young pitcher!
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography; Happy Bunny by Jim Benton
Kyle Kendrick is going to need to find his happy place after today’s outing against the Nationals. Having done well in Spring Training, Kendrick’s first official start of 2010 was a big disappointment. Lasting only 4 innings, Kendrick allowed 5 runs on 9 hits against a team that sometimes resembles a minor league team. But in the first inning, the Nats looked like they were taking batting practice off the young pitcher.
A sinker ball pitcher, Kendrick left way too many pitches up in the zone and lacked control. He had a great opportunity here with the injury to Joe Blanton to show he could start in the majors again, but after today, it does not look good. Granted, it is only one start, but first impressions can be lasting ones.
The Phillies batters got him off the hook for the loss when they tied the game up in the 6th on a Jimmy Rollins sac fly. But in the 7th, the Nats took the lead again as a result of Nelson Figueroa walking the first batter of the inning who eventually scored. In his first appearance back with the Phillies, Figueroa did fairly well, but the 3 walks he gave up created problems.
Chase Utley led off the 9th with a double and Jayson Werth sacrificed him over to third, giving the Phillies hope. But then Raul Ibanez, who is hitting a meager .091 so far this year, hit a short pop-up to make the second out. It was not nearly far enough to score Utley. Shane Victorino followed suit with a short pop-up of his own to end the game, with the Phillies losing 5-6.
The story of the game was men left on base; the Phils left 11 of them stranded. The at-bats were not as patient as the first two games and the concentration seemed lacking. It was a bad flashback to last year where this teams’ biggest issue was the inability to play small ball and manufacture runs.
The shame of it is that great offensive performances were overshadowed by the lack of timely hitting. Werth hit 3 doubles in the game and the top 5 batters in the order had at least 2 hits each. The bottom of the line-up did not perform and many of the hits came at the wrong times.
But starting the year off with 2 out of 3 is not so bad. So Phillies fans, just for tonight, go find your happy place and hang there until we get to Houston tomorrow night.
Kendrick photo by Jenn