March 2013

Spring Training Review

Back on February 5 we looked ahead to spring training and what you could expect. Now it is time to look back…..the annual spring training review. Drum roll please……………

**Chase Utley showed more mobility at second base and on the bases and picked it up with the bat the last week.

**Weather summary: wore more socks than shorts. March was 6 degrees colder than January.

**Experts are overlooking the Phillies but that’s OK. We were on the other end a year ago and ended out of the playoffs. Games are played on grass and dirt and not paper and iPads.

**Domonic Brown was the most improved hitter with a slimmer Ryan Howard a close second.

**Catcher Tommy Joseph and third baseman Cody Asche were the most impressive young position players; left-handed pitcher Adam Morgan, best looking young pitcher.

**Extreme week: Phillies pitchers allowed one hit at the Pirates on March 4 and 28 the next day (vs. Dominican Republic). On March 9, they allowed 16 hits against the Rays and one the next day at the Astros.

**Worst advertisement goes to a motorcycle business that opened in Tampa with a special deal, buy a motorcycle and receive a free gun.

**Strawberry shortcake won my favorite Bright House Field food award for the third straight spring. Sorry, hot dogs.

**Best looking pitcher: hands down, Hamels.

**Best restaurant award: Heilman’s Beachcomber on Clearwater Beach for the 50th straight year.

**For first time ever, Bright House Field topped 11,000 for a game, doing it three times.

**Goosebumps replaced sun tans.

**Dallas writer Gerry Fraley: “Michael Young is in same class as Dale Murphy as outstanding human beings.”

**Best sign: “If you want breakfast in bed, sleep in the kitchen,” Village Inn restaurant.

**Annual traffic headache: Clearwater Beach during spring break.

**Most impressive newcomer: Ben Revere. He may turn into the most popular Ben in Philadelphia since Franklin.

**Most impressive bullpen arms: Michael Adams and Phillippe Aumont.

One Final Spring Training Memory
Larry Andersen (RHP, 1983-86; 1993-94)
“Let’s see, that was 1972 which means it was 41 years ago. And you want me to remember what? Heck, I can’t remember where I left my shoes when I get up every morning.

“Well, it was in Tucson, Arizona and I was one of many minor leaguers with the Indians. We stayed at the Flamingo Hotel. At least I think so. I don’t remember my roommate. But I do remember my number, 112…I think.

“I was nervous and scared and, after one day, fighting blisters from the Kangaroo spikes. What did I like? Absolutely nothing. I grew up in Washington (State) so the warm weather was nice. But I couldn’t handle the Arizona heat. I really struggled, especially all that running. I hated mornings. Getting up early and riding a bus for a few hours, that wasn’t fun. I slept through most of the bus rides; matter of fact, I slept through most of my spring trainings which was rather apparent if you saw me pitch.

“I do remember being in the Mariners big league camp in 1981. Maury Wills was the manager. There was another pitcher in camp who looked like me, or so they say. Brian Allard. He was five years younger so I don’t know how we looked alike. I guess it was because we both had hair. Anyway, Maury got us mixed up. He’d call me Brian, and him, Larry. I was having a great spring, which was unusual. Brian was having a terrible spring. I was stressed out that Maury would pick him because he called him Larry. Happy ending, though, I made the club.”

Meaningful Milestone?

The MLB.com blog counting machine proclaims today’s blog is #1,350. So, in honor or in mourning of this meaningful/meaningless milestone, here’s the very first blog that was posted on March 20, 2006.

The Grapefruit League calendar says it is Sunday, March 19. The Phillies have a 56-mile trip south to play the Reds in Sarasota.The offices at Bright House Networks Field are quiet. Folks back in the Philly office won’t be calling because it is Sunday. Emails even seem to take a holiday on Sundays.

Carpenter Field is a different story. Phillies minor leaguers are spread on four different fields this afternoon. There’s a triple-A game on the Richie Ashburn Field, a Double-A game on the Mike Schmidt Field, a game against a college team on the Robin Roberts Field and a group of young minor leaguers working on fundamentals on the Steve Carlton Field.

The weather for the day is typical of the entire spring: sunshine, blue skies and a rare cloud or two.

The Triple-A game has a different flavor today because lefty Cole Hamels is going to throw three innings. He’s been slowed by back problems and the program of getting him back on the field in a regular rotation is a methodical process.

GM Pat Gillick chose a walk to Carpenter Field rather than a car ride with Dallas Green to Sarasota. Nothing personal, Dallas. Pat wanted to see Hamels pitch. He was perched behind home plate on the rooftop level. In three innings, Hamels allowed 3 hits, 1 run, 1 earned run, 0 walks and 2 strikeouts.

After a 1-2-3 second inning, Dickie Noles walked by: “You can see why this guy is special. He stands out.” Someone responded, “Just like you when you were younger?” “I wasn’t even close,” laughed Dickie.

Assistant GM Mike Arbuckle was also on the roof standing at the top of stairway that is midway between two fields. On his right, Hamels was pitching and on his left, Geo Gonzalez, the prospect acquired in the Jim Thome deal with the White Sox, was hurling in a Double-A game. Hamels’ performance: “Most impressive was his command. For someone who hasn’t pitched in a while, he was around the plate and worked his pitches to spots,” said Arbuckle.

Also playing in the same game for five innings was Alex Gonzalez. The free agent infielder signed by Gillick this offseason was spending his third minor league game in left field. The Phillies are in need of a fifth outfielder and the brass wants to see if Gonzalez can play out there. He had a run-scoring double in two at-bats and caught the only fly ball hit his way.

“It is a different feel out there,” said Gonzalez. “Getting a read on the balls is the biggest adjustment from playing the infield.” Gonzalez will continue to shag fly balls during batting practice. More minor league games or the outfield in a Grapefruit League game or two will be pondered.

Meanwhile next door at Bright House Networks Field, one Major Leaguer was still at work following a short morning workout. Veteran Mike Lieberthal took extra batting practice in the enclosed left field batting cage hitting off a tee under the watchful eyes of Scranton/Wilkes-Barre coach Sal Rende. Later, “Lieby” donned catching gear and spent time catching bullets from a pitching machine. The guy’s caught 1,079 games and he’s still polishing his skills.

Fans Select 5 WOF Finalists

Fan voting has ended for the Toyota Wall of Fame 2013. Five consensus finalists as selected by the fans have been submitted to a special Wall of Fame Selection Committee who will select the inductee. The 15-person committee exists of writers, broadcasters and club executives.

In alphabetical order, the five finalists are Larry Christenson, Von Hayes, Jim Konstanty, Danny Ozark and Curt Schilling.

The winner will be inducted prior to the Friday night, August 2, game against the Atlanta Braves, an event that is part of a four-day Alumni weekend.

Camp Notes
Final Florida road game today in Lakeland against the Tigers (ESPN TV) . . . Spring training ends tomorrow afternoon against the Blue Jays. Both teams will fly to Philadelphia after that game, separately, of course . . . Both teams will take extra players for the two-game On-Deck Series Friday and Saturday at Citizens Bank Park . . . Bicycles, suite cases, duffle bags and golf clubs were loaded on a large Allied Van Lines trailer this morning for a trip north . . . Phillies must submit their 25-man opening day roster by 3 p.m. March 31.

Complex Notes
Annual spring training awards were announced on Tuesday: Bill Giles Award to LHP Jesse Biddle; Larry Rojas, SS Edgar Duran and John Vukovich, Manny Amador, Dominican Academy Camp Coordinator and Summer League manager in that country
. . . Four minor league teams break camp on Saturday. Clearwater has the shortest trip, the complex to Bright House Field.

Alumni Notes
Former head Athletic Trainer, Jeff Cooper, will be inducted into the Delaware Sports Hall of Fame on May 15.

SI’s Extra Mustard.com has a unique story relating to the 68 schools in the NCAA basketball tournament. They recognized a cool person who attended one of the 68 schools. FGCU, the Cinderella team, has Don Carmon among its famous Alumni. Von Hayes was listed for St. Mary’s College.

Sarge on the move? No, but during his playing career this time of spring training resulted in two trades. In 1981, the Phillies acquired him from Atlanta for Bob Walk on March 25. Three years later on March 26, the Phillies traded him to the Cubs in a five-player deal.

Newest feature on http://www.phillies.com/alumni is a listing of memorable Opening Day moments starting with the very first one in 1883. Included is a vintage photo of the 1938 opener, the last one at Baker Bowl. Check it out.

2 More Clearwater Games

While it snowed in Philadelphia, the sun shined brightly in Clearwater today, although chilly (61 degrees) for this time of spring training. Then, again, snow in Philly at this time of the year also isn’t normal.

Does this mean we are in global chilling?

Batting practice at Bright House Field and then a couple of busses left for nearby Dunedin as the final days of spring training wind down. Two more Clearwater games, tomorrow and Thursday and then the team takes a Delta charter flight home.

Another sign that spring training is winding down was seeing four automobile carriers lined up outside Carpenter Complex. Those who had their personal cars in Florida had them loaded for a journey north.

Camp Notes
Yesterday’s 11,076 crowd was second largest in the history of Bright House Field. Game on March 17 against Baltimore is the record, 1,100 . . . After today’s game, Ben Rivere is having a photo shoot for ESPN The Magazine . . . WPHT’s Dom Giordano is doing his show live today and tomorrow; 9 a.m. to 12 noon.

Complex Notes
Yankees AAA and AA clubs are playing at the complex today . . . Kendrick is pitching in one of those games . . . Tomorrow, Class A teams from the Yankees and Phillies will be playing at the complex . . . Releases over the weekend include Ryan Bass, Brendan Lafferty, Jorge Lorenzo, Marek Minarik and Troy Marks.

Alumni NoteBelated 95th birthday wishes to Lou Lucier (March 23). A 5-foot-8 right-hander, Lou pitched for the Phillies in 1944-45. He’s the second oldest Phillies alumnus to 96-year-old Al Monchak.

Spring Training Memories
John Kruk (1b, 1989-94)
“My first big league spring training was with the San Diego Padres in beautiful Yuma, Arizona in 1986. I was given No. 44. What I liked about spring training was getting together with the boys and having a great time on and off the field! What I disliked was everything else. Meaningless games, it was way too long and boredom!!! My most memorable moment in my first spring was sitting in the clubhouse, but manager Dick Williams didn’t show up. He decided to retire and forgot to tell the Padres.”

Morgan on the mound

Because of Thursday’s night game in Ft. Myers, three hours away, today’s schedule was adjusted.

Stretching began at 11:15 a.m. with hitters taking batting practice in the cages starting 15 minutes later. Pitchers did their warm-ups on the half field and infielders worked out there following the pitchers.

Tomorrow is a game in Sarasota against the Orioles. Busses leave at 9 a.m.

Camp Notes
Adam Morgan was brought over from the minor league camp today and started against the Orioles. With the Phillies opening the season in Atlanta on April 1, Phillies didn’t want any of their current starters to face the Braves . . . Mitch Williams is in camp today as part of the MLB Network’s 30 Camps in 30 Days. The show will air tonight on the network . . . Phillies are home on Sunday (Red Sox) and in Dunedin on Monday (Blue Jays). Phillies will hit at Bright House Field and bus to Dunedin at 11:30 a.m.

Complex NotesD
oc will pitch in one of the minor league games tomorrow. Phillies AAA and AA clubs are hosting the Blue Jays. Game times are 11 a.m. . . . Later in the day, a roster meeting will take place. Minor league clubs break camp on March 30 . . . Other minor leagues assigned to this afternoon’s game against the Orioles include four pitchers, Ryan O’Sullivan, Colby Shreve and Steve Inch.

Paint The Town Red
Annual week-long activities get underway tomorrow with a Phillies Charities 5K run that starts and ends on Phillies drive at Citizens Bank Park. Tommy Greene, broadcaster Jim Jackson, the Phanatic and Phillies Ballgirls will be there . . . Sunday, Phillies “Pup Rally”, 1-3 p.m. at the Schuylkill River Park. Fans are asked to dress their dogs in their Phillies finest. Special apkimpearances include the Red Phanatic and Ballgirls. The event is hosted in conjunction with Comcast SportsNet. CNS’s Amy Fadool will be there . . . Monday, Phillies College Trolley Tour will visit area campuses.

Alumni Section
Paul Hagen’s Where Are They Now featuring Mickey Morandini is now available on http://www.phillies.com/alumni.

Also on the site is a list of Phillies who have had the most consecutive opening day assignments. Some surprising names are on the position-by-position list. Check it out.

Quote of the Week
When Mary and Jim Bunning left Bright House Field following a Thursday noon ESPN interview, they exited through the Diamond Outfitters Store. Mary paused, “Look Jim. Aren’t these Phanatic dolls cute?” Jim responded, “Careful Mary. You’ll have to buy 44.” Jim was referencing their 35 grandchildren and nine great grandchildren.

Kruk in Camp

Another big crowd for today’s Yankees game, an ESPN telecast. John Kruk is now part of the network’s Sunday Nigh crew. Just think, ex-Phillies on national TV include Tim McCarver, Mitch Williams, Larry Bowa, Dan Plesac and Jim Kaat.

MLB Network’s 30 camps in 30 days show will be in Clearwater on Friday, including Mitch.

Tomorrow is a day off. With a 7:05 p.m. game in Ft. Myers (Red Sox) on Thursday, the day off stretches somewhat into Thursday. Bus leaves at 1 p.m. on Thursday. Back to Clearwater for the Braves on Friday afternoon.

Once BP ended this morning, Billmeyer took Kratz to the half field to work on throwing to second base. Some hitters went to the cages for extra work.

Camp Notes
WIP’s 1-6 p.m. show featuring Anthony Gargano and Glenn Macnow will be live from Bright House Thursday and Friday . . . WXTU will be live from 5:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Friday . . . ESPN TV is doing a special on pitchers who have tossed perfect games. Jim Bunning is being interviewed tomorrow at Bright House Field . . . Steve Wulf of ESPN.com is in camp today to interview Bunning and Dallas Green about Johnny Callison. Story is about Callison’s dramatic game-winning homer in the 1964 All-Star Game in Shea Stadium, the last time the ASG was in a New York National League park. This year’s game is in Citi Field.

Complex News
Fans can catcher Phillies minor leaguers in games tomorrow afternoon (Yankees AAA and AA clubs) and again on Thursday afternoon (Yankees A clubs) . . . Game times are 1 p.m. No admission charge for fans . . . Lannan and some of the relievers will throw in the minor league games tomorrow.

This Date
March 21, 2004–Veterans Stadium is imploded in 62 seconds. Very emotional moment for fans and Phillies employees to see the place crumble. Dust from the implosion drifted east over Citizens Bank Park creating an eerie scene.

Next blog: Friday.

ESPN TV Next 2 Games

After today, down to nine more games in Florida before the On-Deck Series with the Blue Jays at Citizens Bank Park (March 29-30) and the season opener in Atlanta on April 1. Modell’s Sporting Goods Home Opener is 17 days away.

Another sign that spring training is winding down came from an e-mail from Frank Coppenbarger, Director of Team Travel and Clubhouse Services….”.equipment truck leaves Clearwater on March 27 for Citizens Bank Park. Bring your belongings to BHF on the 26th”

Today’s game is the first of three to be televised by ESPN. Other two: Yankees tomorrow and at Detroit on March 27.

Camp Notes
J-Roll is back in camp after the WBC. He was among the group that worked out at Bright House Field this morning, the players who didn’t go to Disney World for the Braves game . . . Cliff is pitching in a minor league game at Carpenter Complex this afternoon and J-Roll is playing in that game . . . Hall of Famer Jim Bunning is in camp for three days . . . Mike Schmidt’s stay in camp ends today . . . ESPN 97.3 out of Atlantic City (Mike Gill) is live form the Tiki Bar this afternoon and tomorrow afternoon, 2 p.m.-6 p.m.

Complex Notes
Phillies host Pirates AA and AAA teams today at Carpenter Complex . Remember the 1 p.m. games are open to the public at no charge . . . Tomorrow, the two Class A clubs from the Pirates are at the complex while the Phillies AA and AAA teams go to Bradenton . . . LHP David Newman was released this morning. Over the weekend, the following were released: Chris Duffy, Luis Gonzalez, Guantlett Eldemire, Stefan Jarrin, Moises Rivas and Tim Kennelly.

Wall of Fame Voting
5 p.m. Wednesday is the deadline to vote for the 2013 Wall of Fame inductee.

Alumni weekend includes the annual luncheon for Seniors on August 1, Wall of Fame induction on August 2, Toyota Alumni Night on August 3 and a salute to the 1993 NL champions on August 4.

Spring Training Memories
Jim Kaat (LHP, 1976-79)
“I wore No. 21 with the original Washington Senators training in Orlando, Florida. I was nervous but proud to wear a big league ‘uni’. Coming out of Michigan, I loved the warm weather. There was only one field in those days and I didn’t like the amount of time they made us stand around in the outfield doing nothing.”

Tug’s Legacy Lives On

Of the next four games, only one is at Bright House Field, Sunday, St. Patrick’s Day.

Today, Rays in Port Charlotte (8:15 a.m. buses), Saturday, Yankees in Tampa (8:45 a.m.) and Monday, Braves in Disney World (8:00). Just think, touring Florida by bus is in order.

MLB Network will tape the Yankees game on Saturday and air it at 3 a.m. Sunday. Seriously.

Following a tradition started by Tug McGraw back in the late 1970s, the Phillies will wear green jerseys on Sunday against the Orioles. Two games ago, a fan was seen wondering through the Bright House Field stands wearing a green #45 McGraw jersey. Tug’s legacy lives on.

Camp Notes
Another Spring Training USA fan tour will have brunch on Sunday morning at Bright House Field. Scott Palmer is the host . . . Phillies midwest and international scouts come to Clearwater for a few days on Sunday.

Complex Notes
Phillies class A teams are playing the Blue Jays teams at Carpenter Complex on Friday and Sunday. Both teams AAA and AA teams will be playing in Dunedin on those days. Saturday, camp games followed by an evening roster meeting held by the minor league field staff and minor league office staff.

Over the last couple of days the following pitchers were released, Ryan Duke, Garett Claypool, Corey Young, Matt Sisto and Juan Morillo . More player moves will be forthcoming.

This Date
March 15, 1943–Phillies begin spring training in Hershey, PA, during World War II. Eleven players went through the first workout.

For a story about that bizarre spring training and a couple of awesome photos, be sure to check out http://www.phillies.com/alumni.

Spring Training Memories
Von Hayes (OF, 1983-1991)
“My first spring training was in Tucson, Arizona, with the Cleveland Indians. I wore No. 62 and my first roommate was Chris Bando.

“It was my first year out of college and I went directly to the major league camp. I was overwhelmed to say the least. The thing I remember most about my first day was how terrifying Cliff Johnson looked. While the rest of the team stretched, Cliff was on his own program smoking cigs and generally letting everyone know how miserable he was to be in Cleveland that year. Regardless of it all, that man could hit!

“The best part of spring training is at the beginning when you get a chance to see your teammates again before the games start. It’s a no-stress, fun time that always produces good memories. The worst part of spring training was always how long it was. I always felt that a week of practice and about 10 games was all I needed to be ready to play. I always thought the pitchers should still report in February and let the rest of the team report somewhere around the middle of March. Let them throw against a wall for a month until we got there. Just kidding, but a week less wouldn’t have hurt!”

Pitching, Defense Not Jiving

Pitching and defense. That combination can produce winning seasons.

Through 18 spring training games, pitching and defense are not jiving. Team ERA of 6.09 is highest among NL clubs. 25 errors is also high. Team .282 average is third. Domonic Brown leads all NL players with 15 hits and is second with 17 hits.

That’s why we have spring training. Defense miscues can be traced to windy conditions and fields that aren’t major league caliber. J-Roll’s glove is missing, too. Pitchers have given up 183 hits in 158 innings. The numbers are more staggering when you consider pitchers have twice combined on one-hitters.

Camp Notes
Minor league pitchers Colby Shreve, Kyle Simon and Jordan Whatcott and catcher John Suomi are in uniform for today’s game against the Pirates . . . Busses for Friday’s game in Port Charlotte (Rays) leave at 8:15 a.m. . . . Group of Phillies sponsors are in Clearwater for the weekend.

Wall of Fame
Voting online ends on March 20 so get your votes in.

Received an e-mail inquiry from a fan wanting to know by Bake McBride isn’t among the 15 Alumni on this year’s ballot. Bake was on the first online ballot in 2005 but received minimal votes and was removed from the ballot.

The eligible candidates, and Bake is eligible, are reviewed every January and Bake will be given consideration again in 2014.

Spring Training Memories
Ricky Jordan (1B, 1988-94)
“It was Clearwater, 1984, training with the Spartanburg Phillies. I wore No. 6. Carpenter Field was so impressive. I had no idea that many players would be there. I always enjoyed and appreciated the hands-on instruction from the staff. I didn’t like the long distance running they made us do every day. Or the food for lunch: Soup, soup, soup.”

Routine Twist

Spring training and regular season routines are totally different for the players.

During the spring, they arrive at Bright House Field early in the morning as most of the games are day games. Night games dominate the regular season. Players are required to be in the clubhouse three hours prior to a 7:05 p.m. game, for example, during the season.

The spring training routine takes on a different twist as there’s a night game in Tampa today against the Yankees. Busses leave Bright House Field at 3:15 p.m. Those not on the trip are required to be at Bright House Field for stretching and a short workout at 3:30 p.m. The game is being taped by the MLB Network and will be replayed at 8 a.m. tomorrow. Baseball and a late breakfast!

Tomorrow is back to a day game, the Pirates coming to Clearwater.

Camp Notes
Cole Hamels Foundation will host an event after Thursday’s game on the half-field at Bright House Field . . . No minor league games at Carpenter Complex on Thursday but they resume on Friday. Fans are welcome to those 1 p.m. games free of charge . . . . WIP’s morning show with Angelo Cataldi will be live from the Tiki Bar on Thursday and Fridays, 5:30 a.m. to 10 a.m.

Phillies History
**March 10, 1955–With RHP Robin Roberts on the mound, Phillies defeat Detroit, 4-2, before 4,209 crowd in the first game at Jack Russell Stadium in Clearwater.

**March 10, 1962–Because the hotel doesn’t allow black guests, the Phillies leave the Jack Tar Harrison Hotel and move to Rocky Point Hotel, 20 miles outside of Clearwater, FL.

March 12, 1980–OF Chuck Klein elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

March 13, 1987–Phillies sign free agent catcher Lance Parrish.

Check out http://www.phillies.com/alumni for more Alumni information, including a vintage photo of the 1943 Phillies about to board a train in Philadelphia for spring training.

Spring Training Memories
Del Unser (OF, 1979-82; 1979-82; CH 1985-88)
“It was Lake Wales, Florida in 1967, the minor league camp of the Washington Senators. I remember it well because I had an appendectomy after two days and missed the rest of spring. June Raines was my roomie and he helped me get to the hospital.
“My fondest memory was going to the local pub and getting to know some of my new minor league teammates. During my rookie big league camp, I was assigned No. 30. The best part of that camp was making the big club and getting to see my wife in Louisville, Kentucky, before the last spring exhibition game.”

Bake
This Date
Hershey

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