April 2006

Minor League Notes

Players of the week:
Pitcher: RHP Kyle Kendrick, Lakewood: 1-0 for 1 start, 2 hits, 8 IP, 1 BB, club-high 12 SO.  For the season, Kendrick is 1-0 with a 1.93 ERA for 3 starts, 23 SO in 18.2 IP.  A 21-year-old from Mount Vernon, WA, Kendrick was a 7th round selection in 2003.
Player: C Carlos Ruiz, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre: .462 in 7 games, 12 hits, 2 doubles, 1 HR and 4 RBI.  For the season, Ruiz is hitting .377, 5 HR, 13 RBI. A right-handed hitter, the 27-year-old Ruiz was signed as an amateur free agent in 1998 out of Panama. 

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons
Climbed from fourth to second place with an undefeated week (7 wins) stretching their winning streak to 9 in a row . . . RHP Yoel Hernandez picked up 3 saves during the week and shares the International League lead with 6 . . . C Carlos Ruiz had 3 3-hit games . . . LF Shawn Garrett had a pair of triples, 3 RBI on Monday . . . 2B Joe Thurston, 2 homers the next day . . . LHP Eude Brito allowed 1 hit in 6 innings on Wednesday but didn’t get a decision . . . LHP Cole Hamels (Florida State League-leading 29 strikeouts in 20.1 innings) and RHP Chris Booker (0-0, 5.40 ERA also at Clearwater) will join the Red Barons tonight in Norfolk.  Hamels will make his AAA debut at Norfolk on Thursday.

Reading Phillies
Won 3 out of 5 games and had 2 postponements . . . LHP Daniel Haigwood picked up 1st win, one of four Reading hurlers to combine on a 3-0 shutout on Tuesday; Haigwood’s line: 6 IP, 3 H, 5 BB, 6 SO. “Fast ball was sneaky quick, downward plane; curve was more consistent,” reported pitching coach Tom Filer . . . Reading pulled out an 8-7 win at New Britain on Thursday by scoring 7 runs over the final 2 innings.

Clearwater Threshers
Had a 4-3 week . . . LHP Cole Hamels had a pair of no-decisions, allowing 8 runs (4 earned) in 9.1 innings . . . DH Brian Sellier had a 2-homer game . . . 3B Mike Costanzo hit homers in back-to-back games for the first time in his pro career . . . RHP Zack Segovia won 2 games, boosting his season record to 3-1.  His 27.2 innings lead the Florida State League . . . RHP Joe Bisenius hasn’t allowed an earned run in his first 6 relief appearances.

Lakewood BlueClaws
After starting the season 0-9 and being guaranteed a win by the club’s front office, the BlueClaws ran off a 5-game winning streak . . . For the week they were 4-1 . . . RHP Kyle Kendrick, in working 8 IP of a shutout on Tuesday, retired the first 13 batters and fanned the first 6.  He was named the South Atlantic League Pitcher of the Week . . . LHP Matt Maloney (6 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 6 SO) and 3 others combined for a shutout the next day . . . Greensboro scored in the first inning on Thursday to break Lakewood’s consecutive scoreless streak at 22.0 innings . . . On Friday, LHP Joshua Outman (6 IP, 1 H, 2 BB, 6 SO) and two others combined for Lakewood’s third shutout of the week.

Weighing weather factors

Game called.

During the days at Connie Mack Stadium, a blue flag would be hung near the main entrance to the ballpark when a game was called because of weather.  Today, phone calls and the internet have replaced the old blue flag.

What goes into a decision regarding whether a game is called or played because of weather?

Our ultimate goal, and that of Major League Baseball, is to play the game as scheduled. 

However, whenever a weather forecast could impact the playing of a game at Citizens Bank Park, a group of Phillies personnel meets to review the situation.  That group includes upper management, baseball administration, head groundskeeper, ticket office, ballpark operations, media relations, broadcasting and events.

The Phillies subscribe to a computerized weather radar program as one resource.  In addition, the club consults with several weather bureau services to gather as much information as possible.  On occasion, the Phillies will also check with meteorologists at the Philadelphia TV stations.

Weather factors that are monitored include the severity of the forecast, the speed at which the storm/rain is moving and the projection by the hour for that particular day/evening.  Forecasts for the next day often enter the picture.

Other factors include the opponent’s schedule and potential future dates when a game can be rescheduled.  The rescheduling of games is cleared through Major League Baseball’s central office in New York.

The impact on the fans is also taken into consideration.

Once a game is called, both teams, umpires, fans, Phillies game day employees, ARAMARK staffers, ticket office personnel, both team’s broadcasters, the media and the Philadelphia Police Traffic Department are notified all at the same time by different department heads.  An e-mail is also sent to every Phillies employee.  Priority in the media goes to this website and key radio stations.

Generally, the state-of-the art playing field at Citizens Bank Park can absorb a good amount of rain which permits the playing of the game.  But, Mother Nature sometimes can be overwhelming.  Tonight was such a case.

Minor League Notes

Players of the week (April 6-16)
Player: Bobby Scales, a switch-hitter who has played 2B, 3B and the OF for Scranton-Wilkes-Barre, hit .424 in 10 games with 14 hits, including 3 doubles, 2 homers and 7 RBI. Scales, 29, was signed as a minor league free agent by the Phillies last December.
Pitcher: LHP Gio Gonzalez of the Reading Phillies.  In 2 starts, 0-0 record, 0.00 ERA, 12 innings, 7 hits, 4 walks, 13 strikeouts.  The 20-year-old was acquired last November from the White Sox in the Jim Thome trade.

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons
C Carlos Ruiz homered and drove in 2 runs on Wednesday, followed with 2 homers and 3 RBI the next day and capped his week with his fourth HR on Sunday . . . RHP Yoel Hernandez was 3-for-3 in saves . . . LHP Matt White pitched 2-hit shutout ball for 7 innings in a 6-0 win over Norfolk on Saturday; 52 of his 79 pitches were strikes . . . SS Danny Sandoval has been placed on the 7-day disabled list with a left hamstring strain.  SS Angel Chavez has been promoted from Reading.

Reading Phillies
LHP Gio Gonzalez combined on a 1-0 shutout in Reading’s Bournhome opener on Thursday; Gonzalez allowed 5 hits and 2 walks in 7 innings while fanning 6 . . . 2B Tim Moss ended a season-long hitless streak of 25 at-bats with a first-inning single on Friday night.  Moss last year at Clearwater had 52 extra-base hits (30 doubles, 5 triples, 17 homers), second-highest total in the Phillies minor league system.  His first extra-base hit at Reading was a triple on Saturday . . . CF Michael Bourn made the play of the game on Friday with a leaping catch high off the fence in left-center to take extra bases away from Altoona’s Craig Stansberry in the first inning.  Offensively, Bourn is 8-for-8 in stolen base attempts for the season. 

Clearwater Threshers
LHP Cole Hamels had a second straight strong start on Tuesday, 5 innings, 2 hits, 0 runs, 2 walks, 9 strikeouts . . . Then, there was a 4-3, 20-inning marathon win in Ft. Myers on Thursday night, a game that lasted 5 hours and 2 minutes.  LHP James Happ gave up 3 first-inning runs.  The Miracle was held scoreless for the next 19 innings by Happ (5.1 IP) and 7 relievers.  3B Mike Costanzo delivered the game-winning single in the 20th inning, his only hit of the game in 9 at-bats.  Combined totals: 130 at-bats, 19 hits (16 singles), 11 walks, 30 strikeouts . . . LHP Derek Griffith allowed 1 run on 2 hits in 6 innings in going 2-0 and lowering his ERA to 0.75 on Friday.

Lakewood BlueClaws
While the BlueClaws were in the midst of losing their ninth straight game to start the season Friday night, GM Geoff Brown and some of his staff decided they would guarantee a win in their next game (Saturday afternoon).  “We decided on the spur of the moment during Friday’s game to guarantee a win on Saturday and give every fan a free ticket when that happened.  It was difficult to get the word out because Saturday was a 1:05 afternoon game but the people who came Saturday seemed to be aware,” explained Brown.  Attendance on Friday was 4,737.  Saturday’s was 4,990.  Every fan got a free ticket because the BlueClaws won, 8-7, in 13 innings.  A 4-run ninth inning sent the game into extra innings.  RHP Andrew Barb picked up the win with 4 scoreless relief innings.
To promote Lakewood’s May 15 game at Citizens Bank Park against the Delmarva Shorebirds, the BlueClaws abandoned their normal uniforms and wore Phillies uniforms on Saturday.  Any chance they would continue wearing the Phillies uniforms? “No, they are washed and ready to be sent back to extended spring training in Clearwater,” stated Brown.

(Phillies Minor League Notes will be posted every Tuesday).

ANOTHER VET HOME RUN

I just hit a home run and trotted around the bases at Veterans Stadium.

Before you call for a psychological investigation, I really did.  Believe me.

You see the location of home plate, the pitcher’s mound and the bases are now permanently marked in Parking Lot U where the Vet once stood.  For you football buffs, the east and west goal posts are also remembered.

White granite markers with a solid bronze inlay are embedded into the macadam parking lot at the exact location where the bases once stood.  The Vet logo that was designed for the final year at the stadium is included in each baseball location.  The Eagles logo is incorporated into the goal post markers.

If you want to check it out the next time you are in the Sports Complex, look for the U 3 parking lot light standard.  Everything is near that.

Unfortunately, no one saw my dramatic home run.  The parking lot, you see, was empty.

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Minor League Report

Minor League Update

(Four Phillies minor league teams began their seasons last Thursday (April 6).  An report on the minor leagues will be posted here every Tuesday).

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre
The Red Barons are in the midst of an 8-game Ohio road trip to start the season, Columbus and Toledo . . . Through the first 4 games, they were 1-3 . . . CF Chris Roberson got off to a tough start, .143; 2-for-2 in stolen bases . . . C Carlos Ruiz hit .273 with 2 RBI in 3 games . . . 3B Bobby Scales, .375, HR, 2 RBI . . . LF Ryan Fleming, .286, HR, 4 RBI.

Reading
The Phillies (1-3) are also road warriors to start the season playing 7 games away from home, first 4 in Bowie and now in Binghamton where Juan Samuel is the manager . . . CF Michael Bourn had only 4 hits in 4 games, but he scored 4 runs and was a perfect 6-for-6 in stolen bases . . . RHP Scott Mathieson pitched effectively in losing his AA debut, 3-1, on April 6 (5 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 5 SO); he ranged between 88 and 96 mph on radar gun . . . LHP Gio Gonzalez had a no-decision on Saturday, 5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 7 SO; the hits were an infield single and a bunt single.

Clearwater
3B Mike Costanzo hit in the first 5 games, .333, with a double and homer, 4 RBI . . . RHP Zack Segovia fanned 11 in 7 innings vs. Dunedin . . . LHP Cole Hamels made an impressive debut in their opener, 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 7 SO (also vs. Dunedin) . . . Dallas Green was there to see Hamels pitch.  “For the first outing, he stayed consistent with all his pitches,” reported Green.  “As with any young pitcher, he couldn’t get the feel of his curve ball early in the game.  His change-up was as advertised, outstanding.  Fast ball had good life.” . . .  Another LHP, Derek Griffith, made an impressive debut on Sunday in beating Dunedin, 6 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 4 SO.   Griffith used four pitches, fastball, curve, slider and change . . . The Threshers got off to a 3-1 start.

Lakewood
BlueClaws, also starting the season with a 7-game road trip, were winless in four games . . . The team batting average of .156 with 2 runs scored, told it all . . . Staff ERA was a respectful 3.12 . . . Twice the BlueClaws were blanked 1-0 on Saturday at Lexington . . . RHP Carlos Carrasco absorbed one of the losses, 6 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 7 SO . . . LHP Matt Maloney, lost the other, 6 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 5 SO.

Home openers
Reading’s first home game is Thursday night (7:05) against Altoona . . . Lakewood hosts Delmarva the same night (6:35) and the SWB Red Barons play Norfolk on Friday (7:00) at Lackawanna County Stadium.

Gorilla Gone

As Ken Mandel wrote in his notes on this website today, the Phillies got a “gorilla” off their backs by winning game one yesterday in dramatic fashion, Bobby Abreu’s walk-off, three-run homer in the last of the ninth.

A four-game losing streak isn’t a pleasant thing anytime, but in the middle of June, it is a blip.  When it happens to start the season, it gets magnified.

Fortunately, the poorest start ever for the Phillies is still safe.  That record is 0-8 in 1883, the first year for the Phillies franchise.   The 1883 club and 1934 edition share the club record by starting out 0-5 at home.

Jimmy Rollins collected a hit in each game yesterday, giving him a streak of 41 of his last 42 games.  You can imagine the excitement that would be going on now if the consecutive streak had reached 42.

       Other numbers from yesterday:
        **The twinbill was a Sunday first at Citizens Bank Park.  When I was a kid, Sundays were always doubleheaders.  Mondays were days off.
        **The walk-up crowd of 8,300 was the largest since Citizens Bank Park opened two years ago.  I remember games at Connie Mack Stadium when attendance didn’t reach 8,300.
        **Over 52,500 hot dogs were sold on Hatfield Phillies Franks Dollar Dog Day.  My dollar is among that number.

The new left field wall got its first test during the homestand.  Three balls that would have been homers the first two years were turned into doubles.  For those of you who are not aware, the left field wall was moved back five feet and raised from 8’ to 10’6”.  The left field foul pole is still 329’.  The wall angles five feet back from there, then across to section 146.  The 369’ sign last year is now 374’.

One thing that was missing during the first homestand was Paul Richardson.  The Phillies organist since 1970 is battling cancer.  He informed the Phillies this winter that he would be unable to perform.  It was the first time Richardson has missed opening day.   

Paul is more than a musician.  He’s an entertainer and a character and often a bearer of bad jokes.   It was an empty feeling not seeing him opening day. 

Richardson is the answer to a tricky trivia question: Who is the only person to play at Connie Mack Stadium, Veterans Stadium and Citizens Bank Park?

Mr. Consistency

Jimmy Rollins came right back after his 38-game hitting streak was halted Thursday by getting three hits Friday night against the Dodgers.  “J-Roll” started a 36-game streak on August 23, 2005 and extended it during the first two games of this season.  So, going into Sunday’s doubleheader, he’s hit in 39 of his last 40 games.

Chuck Curiosity set in.  Time to research Chuck Klein’s 1930 season with the Phillies.  He’s in the Phillies record book for having two 26-game hitting streaks that year.  Our library contains box score books that date back as far as 1910.  Many box scores are brown in color, very brittle and a bit difficult to read thanks to Father Time.

Dusting off the 1930 box scores that were recorded in “The Wanamaker Diary,” I began delicately turning the pages and reading box scores.  As a side note, there’s an ad on page 30 for “The Wanamaker Fifty,” a custom-detailed, men’s wool suit priced at $50.00 and on sale at John Wanamaker.

Klein, a Hall of Fame outfielder, had an incredible run that season.  He was hitless in the first game of a doubleheader on May 18, ran off 26 straight games, hitless on June 20, chalked up 5 more, hitless in the first game on June 26, ran off a 14-game streak, hitless on July 11 and then topped it with his second 26-gamer through the first game of an August 3 doubleheader.

Using all my fingers and toes, that adds up to hitting safely in 71 of 74 games.  Chuck indeed was Mr. Consistency that season.

J-Roll’s Ride

Rollins_3As every baseball fan knows, Jimmy Rollins’ historic hitting streak ended at 38 games yesterday.  It was quite a ride.

It also was a ride filled with various emotions.  Such as this e-mail response from an unnamed person:

“It was a nice thing when Jimmy Rollins ended last year with a 36 game hitting streak, but no way it should be continued into the season.  The players with the longest streaks in history all accomplished this feat within the length of one season.  They did this while dealing with the wear and tear of the long season, they didn’t have the benefit of a 6 month layoff to heal injuries and to recharge their batteries.  The 36 game streak was fantastic but let’s use yesterday’s (April 3) hit to start a new streak not continue an old one.” 

There are arguments as to whether Jimmy had an advantage or a disadvantage with the six-month break.  He was in a groove when the 2005 season ended and after six months, it was going to be tough to get back in that groove again. 

True, the other hit streaks all came in one season and it could create wear and tear.  Joe DiMaggio (56 games), Willie Keeler (44), Bill Dahlen (45), George Sisler (41) and Ty Cobb (40) didn’t face the media explosion that hit Jimmy.  Pete Rose (44) and Paul Molitor (39) did face a little of the media mass.

Here’s what Jimmy faced since the start of spring training:  ESPN TV (SportsCenter, Cold Pizza, Classics Now, Baseball Tonight), ESPN Radio, ESPN.com, Jim Rome Show, This Week with George Stephanopoulos on ABC TV, USA Today, New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, ESPN The Magazine, Sports Illustrated  plus the Philadelphia media.  Rollins handled all of that very well.  It could have been a distraction.  Instead, he fed off it. 

Rollinsmic

ESPN TV was going to have a crew follow him daily once the streak reached 40.  As Catie DeVito, ESPN MLB Assignment Editor, e-mailed: “We jinxed him.”  Major League Baseball Productions was also prepared to become a daily media addition.  Probably tons of other media would have also joined the chase.

The ride also contained some confusion. 

Rollinstip_2According to Elias Sports Bureau, the official statisticians of Major League Baseball, the two-season streak is a bit unknown.  Rollins finished at 38.  Willie Keeler had a hit in his final game in 1896 and the first 44 games of 1897.  Is Rollins second with 38?  “We just don’t know if
there are any other players who may have hit in 20 games at the end of one season and 20 at the start of the next,” explained Ken Hirdt, one of the historians at Elias Sports Bureau.

Rollins will go down in the record book with having the eighth-longest streak.  That’s a fact.

Karol Silverstein, a Phillies fan in the Los Angeles area, summed up the ride in an e-mail earlier this week:

“On Monday, when Jimmy got his hit in the eighth inning, my household exploded with excitement, as did the fans who’d remained at Citizens Bank Park despite the weather and the score.  We all earned the right to share in Jimmy’s victory by virtue of our loyalty.”

One Down

ONE DOWN

            Opening day is out of the way.  Certainly the outcome wasn’t what everyone wanted, unless you were a St. Louis fan.

            Once again, the weather wasn’t the best for a Phillies opener. Plenty of sunshine on Saturday and Sunday was followed by a cloudy Monday.  Weather forecasters predicted rain around 3 o’clock, which was game time.  Steady rain followed by thunderstorms was in the mix thereafter.

            The forecasters batted .000 for the afternoon.  Drops did begin to fall shortly before 3:00 but they stopped and the afternoon was rain free.  Rain would have come in handy after the Cardinals scored eight times in the fourth to go up 10-0.  No such luck.

            Opening day typically means something special for the fans.  This year the Phillies paraded in from center field between two rows of fans.  It was the wrap-up for the “Paint the Town Red Week.”  The fans wore red, the players walked on red carpet and a red Phanatic led the parade. “That was pretty cool,” exclaimed Cory Lidle upon reaching the dugout.

            For those who suffered a psychological problem because the Phanatic was red, he returned to his normal green later that day.  Relax, all is well again.

            A tradition for Phillies openers is a group of military personnel parachuting into the ballpark.  This year it was the United States Falling Angels Skydiving Team.  While standing on the field, you see an airplane out of which men are jumping.  They appear to be so far away that they surely will never make it to the park. By golly, one by one, they land on the green grass.  There are many things in life I can’t do, and that is one of them.

            In introducing the starting lineup, we made a change.  Normally, you begin with the leadoff hitter and wind up with the pitcher and catcher, batting eighth and ninth, respectively, out in the bullpen.  This time, we started with the ninth place hitter and worked toward the leadoff hitter, Jimmy Rollins.  Idea was to build some momentum.

            Rollins, riding a historic 36-game hitting streak, managed to keep the streak alive in a dramatic way—doubling down the right field line in his last at-bat (eighth inning) and a 3-0 count.  It marked the eighth time that he extended the streak in his final at-bat.

            The game?  The good news is that it only counts as one loss.  The 13 runs were the most the Phillies allowed in a season opener dating back to April 12, 1927, when they lost to the New York Giants, 15-7, at Baker Bowl.   Wonder what color the Phanatic was on that date.

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