March 2008

Rookie Stands Out

Gloomy day with rain showers that delayed the start of the game for 30 minutes.  Scoreboard also became gloomy when the Braves put up a six-spot in the second inning against Francisco Rosario, who had a 7.2 scoreless spring training streak going into that inning.

There are spots to be earned on the pitching staff and so far no one is really stepping up.  With 13 Florida games remaining, time is getting short.

Rookie Carlos Carrasco did step up with three scoreless relief innings this afternoon.  He’ll turn 21 a week from today and more minor league innings are probably in the picture for him.  He’s our top pitching prospect and shouldn’t sit in the bullpen in the big leagues right now.  Command is the key and he had great command today.  Consistency in that area will be the thing that gets him to the majors.

Phillies got in some morning fundamentals work on the field and half-field before the rain started around 11:50 a.m.

The rain did wash out Kyle Kendrick’s outing in a minor league game this afternoon at Carpenter Field.  Idea was for Kyle to go over there and work on his mechanics and location. 

Tomorrow
Hall of Famer Ferguson Jenkins, originally signed by the Phillies, will sign autographs pre-game with proceeds going to the US Military All-Star baseball team and the All-Children’s Hospital down here. 

Jenkins and other Legends will have an annual event at Bright House Field on Sunday afternoon.  Gates open at 3:30 so fans can watch batting practice. A home run derby will be held at 5 with a game an hour later.  The annual event is hosted by the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association.  All proceeds will go to charities in the Tampa Bay area.  Tickets are available at Bright House Field ticket windows.

Spring Training USA will have over 120 Phillies fans for the 1:05 game against the Twins.   They will be treated to a pre-game brunch on the half-field.

Survey Says
Favorite TV show growing up?  “The Jeffersons”, Tom (Flash) Gordon.

Tripleheaders

Charlie Manuel and **** Dubee have tripleheaders today, so to speak.

Both were on the Bright House Field at 9:30 this morning for extra hitting for Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Geoff Jenkins and Jayson Werth.  Dubee threw BP for 20 minutes.  Manuel is always stationed behind the batting cage, offering observations.

This afternoon, they went next door to see Cole Hamels and Kris Benson pitch in minor league games.   Shane Victorino will get some at-bats at the complex and play tonight.

Then, a bus at 2:45 p.m. leaves for Sarasota where the Phillies and Reds play in a 7:05 night game.

After hitting on the field, Utley and Greg Gross (Lehigh Valley hitting coach) spent time in the batting cages. 

WOF Primary
Fan voting online for the 2008 Wall of Fame inductee ends tomorrow on phillies.com.

The five highest vote getters from the fan balloting will then be presented to a Special Wall of Fame Selection Committee who will choose the Alumni member to be inducted on Friday, August 8.

To vote:http://philadelphia.phillies.mlb.com/phi/fan_forum/wof_ballot.jsp.

Tomorrow
Team is back at Bright House Field for a 1:05 game against the Braves.  Game can be heard on this website.

WXTU’s Scott Evans will be broadcasting live from the Tiki Barr from 5:30 a.m. until 9 a.m.  Scott will get to see the sun rise over the ballpark….rather him than me!

MLB Productions will be here for a special taping with Rollins and Howard.

Survey Says
Favorite TV show growing up?  “Price is Right”, Kris Benson.

What's Happening?

Well, life is normal as in normal during the season since we are playing night games tonight and tomorrow.  The lifestyle of a player is geared to night games during the regular season.  The pattern is late to bed and late to rise.  The day games come quickly, especially after night games. 

Elsewhere
Clearwater Threshers, champions of the Florida State League last summer, will receive their rings in a pre-game ceremony tonight . . . From here on out, every game is on radio (phillies.com) except March 27 . . . Cole Hamels was scheduled to pitch in a minor league game this afternoon at Carpenter Field but he was ill and unable to make it . . . MSNBC’s Keith Olberman is here tonight and Friday.  He’s a big baseball fan and a big fan of Bright House Field . . . Phillies media guide is hot off the presses, thanks to publications manager Christine Negley and creative services director Tina Urban . . . Phillies Magazine, April edition, and the Yearbook are next on the publications calendar.  Yearbook will be ready April 18 for the big Mets weekend . . . Phillies will wear great jerseys and hats on St. Patrick’s Day on Monday . . . While the Phillies are on the road tomorrow night, there are two minor league games at Carpenter Field at 1 in the afternoon . . . Offense is struggling but take into account the big boys in the every day lineup are not getting their at-bats.  As we head down the home stretch, they will get more playing time.  So relax.

Survey Says
Favorite TV Show growing up?   “Three’s Company”…Chase Utley.

3 Weeks From Today

Another road game this afternoon but plenty of Clearwater action for the media (eight writers, two TV crews, one radio reporter).

This morning, the half-field was media central.  Kris Benson, Brad Lidge and Adam Eaton each took turns in a bullpen session from 9:30 for the next 30-35 minutes.  One-by-one as they came off the mound, the media herd zeroed in for an interview.  Once the last hurler was finished with the interview process (Eaton), pitching coach Rich Dubee became the subject of questions.

“This was great. Can we do this every morning …three player interviews in succession?,” kidded phillies.com beat reporter Ken Mandel.

In the afternoon, Brett Myers started in a minor league camp game at Carpenter Field.  Media coverage included Leslie Gudel of Comcast SportsNet as three writers.  Rest of the writers went to Bradenton to report on J. D. Durbin’s start.

First time
Non-roster catcher Tim Gradoville asked media relations manager Greg Casterioto for some guest passes for Busch Garden tomorrow, which is a day off.  (The Phillies provide passes for the players and their families through our Community Relations Department).

Gradoville said it would be his first visit to the tourist attraction in Tampa.  “This is the first time I haven’t been cut before the day off,” he laughed.

Tomorrow
Yes, a day off…well for most people. Perhaps getting away from it tomorrow will be the best for the team.

RHP Chad Durbin will get a start tomorrow as exhibition games involving the Phillies minor league camp start.  Durbin will be facing the Reds’ triple-A squad in Sarasota.  Our AAA and AA clubs will both be in Sarasota; our two Class A clubs will play the Orioles at Carpenter Field at 1 p.m.  There is no admission charge for the minor league games.

Jimmy Rollins will be taping a TV commercial at Bright House Field for AnythingForSaleByOwner.com.  Jimmy’s agent arranged for the taping.

Phillies Insider?  Sorry, a day off tomorrow.  Everyone can handle withdrawal for one day.

WMMR’s Matt Cord will be broadcasting live from the Palm Pavilion on Clearwater Beach throughout the day.

Night Games
Wednesday and Thursday are 7:05 night games against the Reds (Clearwater and Sarasota respectively).

Both will be broadcast on WPHT 1210 AM.  That means the games can also be heard on phillies.com.

Cole Hamels will start in a minor league game at Carpenter Field on Wednesday afternoon.

More Philly airwaves on Wednesday . . . WPEN’s Jody McDonald will be live from the Diamond Dugout from 3 to 7 p.m. 

WOW
Modell’s Sporting Goods Opening Day is three weeks from this afternoon.  Myers will be the starting pitcher, facing big league bats that day.

We'll be alright

Chilly, but sunny and bright day.  Scoreboard didn’t reflect the sunshine as the Phillies dropped their fourth straight.  Crowd was 9,402, fourth largest in Bright House Field history.

Morning began with an annual meeting by Major League Baseball’s security department.  Once that was out of the way, Steve Smith and Rich Dubee became the “grim reapers.”   

Fourteen different players were asked by either Smith (position players) or Dubee (pitchers) to visit Charlie Manuel in his office.  There, the players got the news….pack your bags and report to Carpenter Field.  (Check Ken Mandel’s news story on this site).

Golf pro John Daly was an on-field guest of Pat Burrell’s during batting practice.   Daly was playing in a tournament nearby.  He was given a red Phillies uniform jersey with # 3 and his name on the back.  Harry Kalas took one look at Daly and barked, “There’s a long drive……”

Fifth road game in the last seven is on tap for tomorrow.  J. D. Durbin will start at Bradenton (Pirates, no radio).  Bus: 9 a.m. 

We’ll be alright 

Dubee stopped by the office to use the copier for tomorrow’s schedule.  When asked about the pitching, he responded, "We’re gonna be alright, Baron." That’s good enough for me. 

Camera Time

After he came out of the game, Jimmy Rollins taped an RBI/Rookie Leagues commercial spot for Major League Baseball.  It was a huge league production of over 100 people, including 50 kids, and took place on the half field.

The crew arrived at 10 a.m. and was due to tear down at 6:30 p.m.  Jimmy’s involvement included an audio voice over recording and then on camera at home plate on the half field.  His commitment was 3 to 4:30 in the afternoon.

After the game, a crowd gathered outside the ticket office which overlooks the half-field.  The entire production was just that….a production.

Survey Says
Favorite TV show growing up?

“Cosby Show”, Eric Bruntlett.

Remembering Vuk

Vuk01

The Phillies traveled to Winter Haven today, leaving via buses at 9 this morning.

A year ago on the same date, we were also in the same Florida city playing the same Cleveland team. 

All that pales in comparison to what happened a year ago on this date….long-time coach John Vukovich succumbed to brain cancer.  We knew he was struggling but the news hit the camp like a ton of bricks.

Vuk wasn’t able to make Clearwater at all last year.   His presence was missed in so many ways.

Since last year, we lost two others who were regulars in spring training, Larry Rojas and Johnny Podres.  They were fixtures at the minor league camp at Carpenter Field, sitting on the south side of the big clubhouse watching activity on the Mike Schmidt field.

Spring training isn’t the same without them.  Fortunately, memories of them will last a lifetime.

So

Double meeting morning.

Don Fehr and his staff from the players association met with the players for nearly two hours this morning.  That is an occurrence that takes place in every major league spring training camp every year.

While that was going on, Pat Gillick and his staff, Charlie Manuel and his staff met in the coach’s conference room to start the process of reducing the number of players in camp.  There are 63 players here right now.  By opening day, the roster needs to be down to 25.

Davey Lopes paid a visit to Bright House Field this morning.  He spent time with Jerry Martin reviewing notes Davey keeps on each Phillies base runner.  In case you aren’t aware, Lopes will have surgery in about 10 days for prostate cancer and Martin will fill in until Davey is able to rejoin the club.  It is estimated Lopes will be sidelined for up to six weeks after surgery.

So
After yesterday’s game in Dunedin, a couple of players were needling Jimmy Rollins in the clubhouse with “J-Roll”, “J-Roll”, “J-Roll”.  The emphasis shifted to “So-what”, “So-what”, “So-what”, aimed at So Taguchi, the Japanese outfielder.

Taguchi jumped right in, “So!”  Taguchi has a great sense of humor and a quick smile.  Ken Mandel did a great story on this site about language in baseball, including some funny Taguchi stories.

A large contingent of Japanese media was here today.  After the rain-shortened game, Taguchi spent time in the in-door batting cages.   One of the TV crews presented Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins with given a couple T-shirts from the Hiroshima Toyo Carp baseball team.  Ryan asked, “For winning the MVP”?  The Japanese female reporter laughed and said, “For winning arbitration.” 

On The Road Again
Phillies are in St. Petersburg tomorrow (Rays) and Winter Haven on Saturday (Indians). 

Saturday’s game will on WPHT in Philadelphia which means the game can also be heard on this website.

Sign of the Day
“Our cook has a 1st place world cooking trophy….he won it in a poker game.”

Sign appears in JDs restaurant on Indian Rocks Beach.

1 W, 1 L

Split squad day today.  We ended up with one win and one loss.

Back home tomorrow afternoon in Bright House Field with the Tampa Bay Rays.  Game will be broadcast on this website starting at 1:05 in the afternoon.

While practice generally begins around 10 a.m. for the full squad, every morning includes extra work for a small group of players.  Today, Joe Savery, Joshua Outman and Mike Zagurski threw off the mounds by the half-field with Rich Dubee and Rod Nichols looking on.  The time was 8:20.  Two days ago, Mick Billmeyer, catching instructor, was working with the young catchers at that hour.

Today was also the day for Pat Gillick’s weekly conference call, a one and a half-hour call that ended at 11:26 a.m.  Joining Pat in the third floor conference room were Ruben Amaro, Mike Arbuckle, Dallas Green, Charley Kerfeld, Chuck Lamar and Steve Noworyta.  Assistant Minor League Director, Mike Ondo, was back in the Philly office with one ear on his office phone and one ear on his cell.  Wife Colleen is about to deliver their first child.

On the phone were Marti Wolever (Director, Scouting) and eight pro scouts the Phillies have throughout spring training in Florida and Arizona. 

The Clearwater seven provided an update of how things are going in the Phillies camp and our shopping list.  Surprise, we are looking for more pitching.  Not much different for other clubs. 

The scouts, in turn, reported on their respective teams: injuries, impressive players, the needs of other clubs, which players may be available, etc.  If there is a particular player that interests Pat and his lieutenants, the scout covering that team then will make plans to follow that player.   Otherwise, scouts are watching and listening every day, picking up information for Pat.

Improving the ballclub is an ongoing effort by a lot of people.

On The Road Again

Most important note on the bulletin board in the clubhouse today and tomorrow: bus schedule. 

For the game today in Orlando, the buses left at 8 this morning.  Tomorrow, the Phillies have a split squad, one team in Lakeland against the Tigers (9:30 bus) and one in neighboring Dunedin against the Blue Jays (11:30 bus).  Jimy Williams will manage the Phillies in Dunedin; Charlie Manuel in Lakeland, which is near his winter home.

Back home on Thursday (Tampa Bay Rays) and then back-to-back road games on Friday and Saturday.

As Willie Nelson once sang, “On The Road Again.”

Pat Burrell and Pedro Feliz weren’t on the traveling roster today and worked out at Bright House Field this morning with others who didn’t visit Disney.

Elsewhere
Tommy Lasorda was among friends of Davey Lopes who called wanting to express their best wishes.  E-mails and cards have been arriving . . . This morning, 7:30 to be exact, was photo day at the minor league camp where 152 players begin workouts tomorrow.  First games there start Tuesday.  Between Carpenter Field and Bright House Field, there’s Phillies baseball going on for the rest of the month.

Airwaves
Harry and Jamie, WPEN’s mid-day sports talk show (12 noon to 3 p.m.) will be live from the Tiki Bar at Bright House Field on tomorrow through Thursday . . . No radio or TV tomorrow . . . Wednesday’s game will be broadcast on phillies.com.

Number 1?
Question: The number 1 souvenir sold at Citizens Bank Park last season?

Answer: The No. 1 foam finger…..14,341 of them.

No ESPN

Tough news on Davey Lopes today.  But, the prostate cancer was caught early and a full recovery is expected.  That’s great news.

Everyone in the camp has a physical exam at the beginning.  That’s how Lopes’ situation was detected.

Photo Op

After the game, Charlie Manuel took part in a one-hour photography session for Philadelphia Magazine.  Charlie is an April issue story, “The Great Communicator.”

When Greg Casterioto, the media relations manager, told Charlie the length of the photo shoot, Charlie responded, “That long with this mug?”

Even though we had photo day earlier and photographers pop in an out of camp, the Manuel session was one of three Greg supervised the last week.  The Camden Courier Post did a series of photos of Brett Myers and the Philadelphia Daily News wanted Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins together for the paper’s baseball supplement cover.

ESPN

The sports network is televising nine spring games, eight from Florida: 2 each: Dodgers, Braves, Yankees, Red Sox, Mets, Blue Jays . . . 1 each: Twins, Indians, Nationals, Tigers.

That means zero for the Phillies….defending NL East champs, reigning MVPs, the best players in the league at first, second and short, Florida’s best ball park that packs in passionate fans.

Perhaps ESPN stands for: Exactly Sure Phillies Never

Show Business

Caught part of ESPN’s Baseball Tonight last evening from Disney World: Karl Ravech, John Kruk, Goofy and Donald Duck were on for about 5 minutes. That’s entertainment!

Speaking of Disney, that’s where the Phillies play tomorrow afternoon against the Braves.

Shirt of the day

A gentleman walking on the main concourse at Bright House Field today: “I’m from Texas.  I’m drunk and I’ve lost my horse.”

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