March 2009

Jenkins, Equipment Truck….Gone

Well, as you’ve heard the big news out of camp is the release of Geoff Jenkins.  Todd Zolecki has all the details. 

To some, the news is welcome.  But, players are human and to see him in the clubhouse in civilian clothing gives a different perspective.  He was surrounded by five of his teammates, or, in this case, ex-teammates.

Clubhouse chemistry is so important over a 162-game season and one of the big reasons the Phillies have been so successful.  Jenkins added to that chemistry.   When looking at players, more than skills are taken into consideration.

Awards
Prior to tonight’s game, the Phillies will present awards in honor of the late John Vukovich, Phillies chairman Bill Giles and the late Larry Rojas.

The Vukovich Award is presented to a member of the organization’s instructional staff who embodies the characteristics of a man who wore a Phillies uniform for 30 years–loyalty, dedication, competitiveness, knowledge and an endless work ethic.  This year’s winner is Roly de Armas, who has been a player, minor league coach and manager, catching coordinator and interim bullpen coach on the major league level during his 29 years with the Phillies. 

For the Giles and Rojas awards, the winners are chosen on the following criteria: love and respect for the game of baseball, an outstanding work ethic and pride in being a member of the Phillies. 

Winning the Giles award is a 21-year-old right-handed pitcher who was drafted in the third round last year out of Long Beach State University, Vance Worley.

The Larry Rojas award is presented to the Hispanic player in the Phillies organization who exemplifies the same criteria. Arlon Quiroz, a 22-year-old outfielder who was signed as an amateur free agent four years ago out of Venezuela, is the 2009 winner.

The Phillies’ rookie level team received their 2008 Gulf Coast League championship rings following the presentation of the three awards. Can’t wait for the April 8 World Series ring ceremony.

Camp Notes
An Atlas Allied Van backed up to the Bright House Field clubhouse around 7:50 this morning.  The clubhouse crew was here then and will be here well after tonight’s game is over.  Boxes of equipment, trunks, all kinds of luggage, bicycles, fishing rods, toddler’s jump seats were among the 22,000 pounds loaded for a trip to Citizens Bank Park . . . Phillies are at the Yankees tomorrow afternoon, host the Nationals on Thursday and then fly to Philly . . . Final roster decisions will take place Thursday afternoon at the minor league camp.  Look for a few more cuts.

 

4 More Days

More roster moves were made this morning.  Check out the Zo Zone for details.

Four more days left in Florida.  Gray, tub-like containers are scattered around the clubhouse as players pack their extra gear.  The equipment truck leaves tomorrow morning. 

Five auto transport trucks left Clearwater this afternoon packed with 28 vehicles from the staff and players.   When everyone arrives in Philadelphia on Thursday night, the vehicles will be there.

Jamie Moyer, J. A. Happ and Mike Zagurski threw off the mound at the half field early this morning.  Happ was first at 8 a.m.  One of the catchers looked familiar, Eric Bruntlett.  Yes, Eric was wearing the tools of ignorance.  “This isn’t too thick,” Eric said to Mick Billmeyer while adjusting the chest protector.  “Foul balls may sting a little,” replied Mick.

With four more Grapefruit League games remaining after today, the Phillies will finish with a losing record for the ninth time in the last 10 springs.  Only winning spring in that span: 19-11 in 2006.

Remember, there are no championship trophies in the Grapefruit League.

Camp Notes
Clearwater total attendance record of 121,519 set in 2007 was broken today.  Phillies are also going to set new standards for road attendance and total attendance in Florida . . . World Series trophy will be on display before tomorrow’s and Thursday’s games . . . Jim Fregosi and Bobby Wine, scouts for the Braves, are following the Phillies . . . Lone night game at Bright House Field is tomorrow, 7:05 against the Blue Jays.  Pre-game festivities include the presentation of the John Vukovich, Bill Giles and Larry Rojas awards and rings to the Phillies rookie-level team that won the Gulf Coast League championship.

 

Opening Night, #57, Cuts, Blogs

A week from tonight, Citizens Bank Park will again be jumping.  Modell’s Sporting Goods Opening Night against the Braves, an 8:05 national telecast on EPSN2.  Fans have had their post-season emotions pent up all winter.  They’ll be ready to unleash those emotions big time.

Pre-game festivities begin at 7:25 p.m. Details will come later.  So get there early. 

If don’t have a ticket, most of the pre-game ceremonies will be covered on the W. B. Mason Behind the Pinstripes show on WPHL TV, Channel 17, the Phillies new TV rightsholder.  Scott Palmer will again host the show which begins at 7:30 p.m.

Then, on Thursday before the 3:05 afternoon game, the World Series championship rings will be presented on the field.  Arrive early for the emotional ceremonies.  Hopefully, those ceremonies will be seen live on phillies.com.   More on that later.

New Phillie
Jack Taschner, the 30-year-old lefty reliever acquired from the Giants for Ronny Paulino over the weekend, joined the Phillies this morning.  He’s wearing #57.

He had a hot/cold season a year ago against left-handed hitters.  From opening day through August 10, lefties hit .187 against him.  From August 12, lefties got him at a .517 clip.  One other note about him, he has one option left.

His arrival puts the camp at 34 players. Opening night’s limit is 25.  Included in the 34 players, are five non-roster players.  Ruben Amaro Jr. will conduct a meeting after the game today with his staff and Charlie Manuel’s staff to discuss the roster.

With the April 3-4 On-Deck Series games at Citizens Bank Park against the Rays, chances are the final decisions won’t be made until then.  As always, we’ll be looking to improve the roster.  Options are other clubs cutting players and trades. 

Sunday Cuts
27 players were cut at the minor league camp, 10 a week ago and 17 more this morning.  More are on the horizon.  Four rosters need to be finalized next Friday.  Lehigh Valley, Reading and Lakewood clubs break camp next Sunday.  Others remain in Clearwater, either on the Threshers roster or extended spring training.

The cuts:
Pitchers: Moises Melendez, Jorge Crespo, Ben Pfinsgraff, Dustin Cameron, Sean Thompson, Yorman Bazardo, Reymond Cruz, Berman Espinoza, Yoel Hernandez, Yen Feng Lin (Taiwan native), Cristobal Mata, Andrew Cruse, Shaun Ellis, Steve Shepard and Justin Pope.

Catchers: Josh Arhart, Alan Robbins, Scott Thomas (Lee Thomas’ son) and Caleb Mangum.

Infielders: Herman Demmink, Daniel Hargrave, Tim Binkoski, Kyle Haines and John Urick (Whitey Herzog’s grandson).

Outfielders: Bryan Frew, Chris Walker, Damon Hollins.

Blog Notes
Latest ratings on MLB.com blogs has Todd Lolecki’s Zo Zone blog first in his category.  Phillies Insider is 13th among those in a different category. 

Thanks to Phillies fans for their passion.

Busses left for Kissimmee at 8 this morning.  For some reason, I missed the bus….again.  That keeps my number of road trips in Florida at zero.

Minor league games at Carpenter Complex today were played at 10 this morning.  Staff then held a long meeting reviewing personnel.  Mentioned yesterday that more cuts are coming today.  Actually, the news may not be delivered to the players until tomorrow or Sunday.

Some readers have asked for a list of the cuts.  I’ll wait until the full list is in. 

As Todd Zolecki reported in his Zo Zone blog, Cole is feeling fine and scheduled to pitch Sunday against the Red Sox at Bright House Field.  Game will be on TV in Philly, myphl17.  Thundershowers are in the forecast.

Tomorrow’s game against the Pirates in Bradenton will be on ComcastSportsNet TV.

Both games will also be on WPHT 1210 AM in Philly as well as phillies.com and MLB TV. 

Number 600

This is blog #600 for Phillies Insider.  Not even close to Cal Ripken’s streak!

Comforting to know that what I’ve written helped people fall asleep 600 times.  Not even close to Jay Leno.

How much longer will Phillies Insider exist?  I have no idea.  I’ll keep posting as often as possible, but not seven days a week.  Response to Phillies Insider has been terrific (ranked 12th in the last MLB blog ratings).  A huge thank you.

Todd Zolecki’s Zo Zone blog is the best thing to happen to phillies.com.  He’s able to provide what’s happening daily, including the starting lineup for each game.  If you aren’t a regular Zo Zone visitor, get with it.

Correction
I mentioned we will be paying tribute to Pat Burrell on Friday, April 4.  Thanks to a posted comment, Friday is April 3.  So, is the tribute Friday (April 3) or Saturday (April 4)?

The answer: Friday, the 3rd.  Pat will also be on hand for the World Series ring ceremony on April 8.

Wish the mistake was the only one in the 600 blogs.  Not even close.  But, it is great to be corrected because that means you care and I appreciate it.

Camp Notes
10 players have been told at the minor league camp they are no longer a member of the Phillies organization.  A larger number will receive the sad news tomorrow as the Lehigh Valley, Reading, Clearwater, Lakewood and extended spring training rosters get finalized . . . Another sellout today with the Yankees at Bright House Field . . . Tomorrow, the Phillies head east to Kissimmee to play the Astros.  It is the only pre-season game that will not be broadcast by us.  However, the game will be on KBME radio in Houston which means you can hear it on phillies.com.

 

J-Roll, Shane, Pat, Cole, Curt

J-Roll and Shane are back in camp and wasted no time in getting back in the lineup.  Todd Zolecki wasted no time in posting the lineup this morning in the Zo Zone. 

It has seemed strange without them around here.  And, it certainly changes the appearance of the lineup. 

After today, eight more games in Florida for Jimmy and Shane to sharpen their batting strokes.

On-Deck Series
Once the Grapefruit League season ends April 2, the Phillies will be home April 3 (7:05) and April 4 (1:05) for games against the American League Champion Tampa Bay Rays.  Tickets for each game at Citizens Bank Park are available.

Pat Burrell will make his first appearance in a different uniform.  The Phillies are planning a little salute to him prior to the Friday, April 4, game.

Carpenter Complex
Cole, Blanton and JC are each pitching at Carpenter Complex this afternoon.  Hamels is starting for one of the Class A clubs against the Pirates.  Joe will be on a different field in a similar situation.

Big club is in Dunedin for a 1 o’clock game (Park is pitching).  Guess where the media will be camped?  If you guessed Dunedin, you are incorrect.

Curt Retires
Curt Schilling announced his retirement yesterday.  The record book will show he last pitched in 2007 and that he put up some impressive numbers, especially the postseason.  He will be eligible for the Hall of Fame in 2013.

Had lunch yesterday with veteran scribes Bill Conlin (Daily News) and Hal Bodley (MLB.com) later chatted with Jayson Stark (ESPN.com).  Subject: is Curt a HOF pitcher.  General consensus: there was none.  On one hand, yes.  On the other hand, no.

One thing that is certain, Curt will be a member of the Phillies Wall of Fame some day.  According to our guidelines (“retired for three years”), he will be eligible in 2011, the same year that Mike Lieberthal is eligible. 

Curt won 101 games in nine seasons in a Phillies uniform.  Only Phillies with more wins: Steve Carlton (241), Robin Roberts (234), Grover Cleveland Alexander (190), Chris Short (132) and Curt Simmons (115).  All are in the Toyota Wall of Fame in Ashburn Alley.

Another Sellout

Fans continue to pack Bright House Field.  Going into this afternoon’s game with the Yankees, the Phillies have sold out eight of their first 10 home games. 

Sell out number 9 will be today, 10 on Thursday (Yankees again) and 11 on Sunday (Boston Red Sox).  Game next Monday with the Astros may break the string.

Clearwater attendance record is 121,519 set in 2007.  Last year fell short because of a rained out game.  Weather would be the only factor which would prohibit a new record this spring.

Back north, sales are going well for season tickets, groups, individual games.

Camp Notes
HBO crew is back putting the finishing touches on a documentary about Charlie Manuel.  It will be aired next month . . . As Todd Zolecki reported, Cole will pitch in a minor league games (1 p.m.) tomorrow at the Carpenter Complex . . . Pedro Feliz played there yesterday, getting six at-bats while the team was in Ft. Myers . . . Phillies are in Tampa (Yankees) tomorrow and have a day off on Wednesday.  Minor league games are scheduled at Carpenter Complex each day, Class A games tomorrow and AA and AAA teams on Wednesday. 

Here and There
Phillie Phanatic is in ESPN TV’s studio today taping a skit with their on-the-air announcers . . . The Perfect Season, our 2009 video yearbook, will be shown at the Prince Theater in Philadelphia on Friday (5 p.m.) as part of the Philadelphia Film Festival . . . World Series Trophy spent last week at the Tiffany headquarters getting engraved.  It is back in action this week.  Fans on March 31 and April 2 can see the trophy at Bright House Field . . . New carpeting has been installed in the Phillies clubhouse at Citizens Bank Park.  Too much champagne last fall . . . Numerous touch ups are taking place at Citizens Bank Park with the season rapidly approaching.  One of the projects is re-painting the two foul poles.  A 120-foot lift is being brought in for that effort.

Gold Phillies?

Spring is here!  Great time of the year.  Grey, cloudy days are behind and sunny, bright baseball days are ahead.

Team returns to Clearwater around 8:45 tonight.  Clubhouse workers who didn’t make the trip, were in this morning, headed out in the afternoon and will return to unload and unpack and wash uniforms.  It will be a late night for them.

Pitchers who weren’t on the trip worked out again this morning at Bright House Field.  Joe Blanton, who pitched so well yesterday afternoon against the Marlins, was back and in uniform. Group spent time on the half-field working on pitchers fielding practice, affectionately known as PFP.

Twins come to Clearwater tomorrow afternoon.  Another sellout crowd of over 10,000 is expected.  Danny Ozark will throw out the first all.  Game is broadcast on WPHT Talk 1210 and televised by myphl17.  Audio and video also available on phillies.com.

Sunday, a 7:45 a.m. departure for Ft. Myers and a game with the Red Sox.  Somehow, I will miss that trip.  Game will be broadcast on WPHT and phillies.com.

“Gold” Phillies
If you haven’t done so, check out Todd Zolecki’s Zo Zone blog.  Phillies will wear special uniforms for the season opener.

Legends Game
Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association’s annual “Baseball For Kids” Legends Game will take place Sunday at Bright House.

Gates open at 3:30 p.m. with a Home Run Derby and Hitting Challenge at 5 and a game at 6:30.

Ozark will manage one team.  Hall of Famers Gaylord Perry and Wade Boggs will participate along with former Phillies Darold Knowles, Mike Proly, Mark Whitten and Jim Kaat.  Other major league Alumni include Bert Campaneris, Kevin Bass, Richie Schienblum, Jim Perry, Glenn Beckert, Dick Drago, Jeff Torborg and Tommy John.

 

Two More Weeks

Two weeks from this evening, the team will be flying home.  At times, spring training seems to move at a snail’s pace.  At this stage, the days fly by quickly.

Anxious to get home but not anxious to leave this sunny, warm weather.  Never seen a spring with such consistent weather, temperatures in the 70s every day. 

With the team on the other coast for a couple of days, it is rather quiet at Bright House Field. 

Don’t know if anyone has noticed, but the current issue of TIME Magazine includes a feature on Ryan Howard.  J-Roll will be appearing in Men’s Fitness, Ruben Amaro Jr., Philadelphia Magazine and Charlie Manuel, Sports Illustrated.

HBO Special on Charlie is in final production stages.  It should air next month.

Did You Know?
**The number one souvenir item sold at Citizens Bank Park last season was the Foam Finger #1.

**The leading player uniform jersey among fans, #26, Chase.

**This year’s team payroll has exceeded $130 million.

**The payroll 20 years ago was $9.9 million.

**70 years ago, the Phillies held spring training in New Braunfels, TX.

Road Trip

Ari Fleischer, former press secretary for the White House, spoke to the team this morning at 8 about dealing with the media. 

Those of us in the game of baseball believe a media question about the condition of Cole Hamels is a major issue.  It is in the world of Phillies baseball and our fans. Ari dealt with questions concerning 9/11 and world peace.  Quite a difference.

Once a player becomes a professional, they are schooled on how to play the game, nutrition, security issues, wellness, health insurance issues, etc.  It makes sense to include media training since a major league baseball player has to deal with the media every day for six-seven months. 

Road Trip
34 players are listed on the travel roster, leaving by buses after today’s game for West Palm Beach. 

The Phillies have games tomorrow and Friday in Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter.  Tomorrow, the Marlins; Friday, the Cardinals.  Both teams share the stadium.

Outta Here
New advance scout Craig (Dewey) Colbert begins his life with a suite case.  After spending 4 weeks watching the Phillies and talking with Charlie and his staff, he left Clearwater today.  He’ll follow the Atlanta Braves for 10 days and then head for Arizona to watch the Rockies for 10 days.
The Braves and Rockies are the first two clubs the Phillies face during the regular season. 

Next on his schedule will be the Nationals.  Colbert’s reports will be sent to Charlie and his staff the first day of a series.

Camp Notes
While there is no baseball at Bright House Field the next two days, there are minor league games next door at Carpenter Complex.  Tomorrow, the Phillies two Class A clubs play the Pirates.  The AAA and AA clubs go to Bradenton to play the Pirates.  Friday, the opposite takes place at Carpenter Complex.

Game times are 1 in the afternoon; no admission charge.  Fans can float around Carpenter Complex to check out the action on the four diamonds.  Bleacher seats are available.  Fans can bring their own lawn chairs.  Wheelchair accessibility is plentiful. 

There are something like 170 players in uniform.  Good news, names are on the back of the jerseys. 

 

 

 

 

 

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