Fans Flock to Carpenter
The largest crowd of fans I’ve seen for the first day of spring training since the 1980s enjoyed a two and one-half hour Phillies workout at Carpenter Field. The parking lot at Carpenter was filled at 11:15 a.m., forcing people to park nearly two blocks away.
It was a picture-perfect, Clearwater Chamber of Commerce day: 75 degrees, a pale blue cloudless sky and plenty of green grass.
Two and one-half hours doesn’t seem like a long time but with four fields plus the facilities at Bright House Networks Field, 60 players were occupied every minute.
Two groups of infielders fielded ground balls in a manner I had not seen before. Instead of having one coach/instructor hitting grounders to each of four infielders, there were four fungo hitters at one time. It meant that Chase Utley, for example, fielded grounders non-stop for 30 minutes.
Ryan Howard took batting practice on the Mike Schmidt Field at 11:30 a.m. Fans have the opportunity to watch the action on all four fields. They can roam and see everything. When Ryan hit, most of them migrated to Schmidt.
Pat Gillick feels there is talent on this team, but more importantly, “we have players with character. That’s not so important when things are going good and the team is winning. There are times when a team will struggle and that’s when character really shows up.”
Only Danny Sandoval, who is having visa problems in Venezuela, was missing. Of the 60 players in camp, 27 weren’t here a year ago.