March 2013

Half-way Point

Spring training is half over. Second half starts this afternoon with the Tigers visiting Bright House Field. Tomorrow, it’s the Yankees in Tampa, the first of two night games on the schedule.

Phillies are 7-8-1 with 16 games left. The game against the Dominican Republic World Baseball Classic team was considered an exhibition and not included in the won-loss record. Only St. Louis has a winning record in spring training among NL teams, 8-7. Kansas City is running away with the best record, 13-1. Come April 1, all teams are 0-0. No foolin’.

Extreme Week
Last week, including the DR game, Phillies pitchers had games in which they gave up 1, 28, 9, 12, 7, 16 and 1 hits. They started the week with a Monday 1-hitter at the Pirates and ended on Sunday with a 1-hitter at the Astros.

Don’t believe that’s ever happened in a Phillies spring training season.

Camp Notes
Pitchers Brendan Lafferty and Ryan O’Sullivan came over from the minor league camp to be in uniform for today’s game . . . In case you missed it over the weekend, the Phillies cut a bunch of players and today Cloyd, Rosenberg, Robles, Gillies and Valle were sent to Carpenter Complex. That leaves 42 players, including 11 non-roster players . . . With the first round of the WBC out of the way, Phillies have two representatives left, J-Roll (USA) and Samuel (DR) . . . WPHT’s Chris Stigall will be broadcasting live from Bright House Field again tomorrow, 5:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. . . . Minor league games at the complex on Wednesday are Phillies-Pirates AAA and AA rosters. Game time is 1 p.m. No admission charge.

Spring Training Memories
Terry Harmon (INF, 1967; 1969-77)
“It was1967 in Clearwater. I wore No. 54. We stayed at the Fort Harrison Hotel with all the players and staff. One of the neatest things was going to Clearwater and the drive from the airport, all the beautiful palm trees and the water and then going to work and trying to save a position every year. All the preparation for spring training every year always led to aches and pains the first day. No matter how hard you worked at home, it was the same every spring.

“I loved spring training. It was a time to bring your family to Clearwater for six weeks or more, spend time on the beach and spend time with other families. I loved every minute of it. Every year I was on the ledge because I was a utility player and someone was always trying to get my job. I was lucky enough to hang on for a few years and have a great mediocre career.”

Weekend Schedule

Back-to-back with Tampa Bay Rays. 8:45 a.m. buses left for Port Charlotte this morning. Tomorrow, the Rays and Phillies are at Bright House Field. PHL17 will televise the game in the Philadelphia market.

Sunday, buses depart at 8 a.m. for Kississmee and a game with the Astros. That game will taped and played on MLB Network at 10 a.m. Monday.

Monday is a day off for the entire squad, including this blog.

Players not on today’s trip worked out at Bright House Field and were done by 11 a.m. Next door at Carpenter Complex, minor league players continued their workouts. They have five groups of pitches and five groups of position players. Because of the large number of players (164) more than four fields are needed. One group walked up Old Coachman’s Road to the Joe DiMaggio Complex of three baseball fields and worked out there.

Minor league games against other teams will begin on Tuesday at Carpenter Complex. Two games will be played there and two teams will go on the road. Admission is free although the Phillies are home on Tuesday.

Camp Notes
Group of Phillies sponsors arrive today for the weekend, an annual ritual . . . A group of fans on the Spring Training USA Tour will have brunch Saturday morning at Bright House Field . . . Phillies Alumni Sixto Lezcano will throw out the first ball tomorrow and Larry Christenson will attempt to catch it.

Phillies Phlashback
March 8, 1941–RHP Hugh Mulcahy is the first big league player drafted into the military in World War II.

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.

More Phlashbacks can be found on http://www.phillies.com/alumni.

Stocker Recalls ST Brawl

Twins come to town with a split squad today, meaning they have another squad playing elsewhere in Florida (home in Ft. Myers vs. Boston). With an uneven number of teams in both Florida and Arizona, split squads are a must during spring training.

Major League Baseball rules say teams must have four starters, including the starting pitcher, in their lineups. With the World Baseball Classic underway, it makes it more difficult to follow that mandate. The Twins have 13 players in the WBC, the Phillies 11.

Tomorrow, the Phillies journey 97 miles south to Port Charlotte to play the Rays. It is the only game this spring that isn’t on TV. Same two teams meet at Bright House on Saturday.

Sunday, an 87-mile trip east to play the Astros in Kissimmee. Monday is a day off.

TV Schedule
The Phillies television schedule was announced yesterday. All 162 games during the season will be televised: Comcast SportsNet (101), PHL17 (45), The Comcast Network (9), FOX (6) and so far ESPN Sunday Night (1). ESPN has the right to add additional Sunday night national telecasts.

As a kid growing up &# years ago, only Sunday games were televised. There was nothing more depressing than turning on the TV on Sunday afternoon only to see Rainout Theater. Don’t like movies. Guess where that all started.

Yesterday
Utley was hit by a Strasburg pitch yesterday and Doc threw behind a Washington batter. The incident got a lot of media exposure and will add fuel the Phillies-Nationals rivalry during the season.

Brushbacks are part of baseball. Generally not in spring training. Do remember an incident in 1993, a Phillies game against the Cardinals in St. Petersburg that erupted into a fight. The Cardinals had hit a Phillies batter or two earlier in the spring and when Dave Hoillins got drilled in St. Pete, he charged the mound.

Spring Training Memories
Kevin Stocker (SS, 1993-97)
“I remember being so excited and nervous in spring training. Strangers became good teammates and friends. Once I was cut but brought back to the big club for a game in St. Petersburg. Hollins got hit by a pitch, charged the mound and before I knew what was going on, I was the only person on the bench. It was the first of four brawls that year. Needless to say, that was a tough team.

“I’m from the Northwest where we were stuck inside all winter working out. Getting to Clearwater with the warm weather and grass and finally getting to work out outside was the best part. For me, it was a treat. I know it is big business but the length of spring training was ridiculous. It would be nice if it could be shortened a little. That’s my opinion. At the same time, I can see both sides.”

28 Hits Didn’t Count

Best thing about yesterday’s bashing by the Dominican Republic WBC team againts the Phillies is that it doesn’t count. Then again, any of the stats in spring training really don’t count.

28 hits against the Phillies in a spring training game? Have no idea. We really don’t track that kind of stuff in the Grapefruit League.

Since 1900, the most hits the Phillies have allowed is 28: at the Reds, 1902; vs. the Cardinals at Baker Bowl, 1929 and vs. the Giants, also at Baker Bowl, 1931.

Camp Notes
Nationals in town this afternoon. Since they train on the other Florida coast, they don’t visit the west side often . . . Twins split squad is here tomorrow . . . Defensive drills took place prior to batting practice . . . Hall of Famer Jim Bunning will be visiting camp for three dates in a couple of weeks. He was elected to the Hall of Fame on this date in 1996.

Spring Training Memories
Mitch Williams (LHP, 1991-93)
“I was 19 years old and had been taken by the Rangers in the Rule 5 draft. It was my first big league camp. I was walking out early in the morning and I remember the Rangers had just gotten Cliff Johnson. Cliff was standing in right field and Mickey Rivers was sitting on the ground. I walked toward them and Mickey said, ‘Clifford, look at the head on this critter.’ I later learned that Mickey was one of the many real characters during my career.

“It was always great to reunite with your teammates every spring. I also remember all the aches and pains that came every year no matter how much winter ball you had played or how hard you had worked. The best part of spring training, though, was the end.”

WBC Warm-up

Today’s game against the Dominican Republic is a warm-up for World Baseball Classic.

The DR club is considered a strong one.The USA, Japan, Cuba, Venezuela and DR are the power houses, although the DR was eliminated in the first round during the last Classic, 2009. DR’s first game is Thursday vs. Venezuela in Puerto Rico. The USA plays Mexico on Friday in Chase Field, Phoenix. Game time is 7 p.m.

The Phillies don’t have any players on the DR team. USA, only J-Roll. Several players, including Aumont, are on the Canadian team. The Phillies will scout that team to keep tabs on Aumont’s progress.

MLB Network will be televising a lot of the games.

Camp Notes
Nationals tomorrow afternoon and Twins on Thursday in home games . . . Dave Cash will be throwing out the first ball tomorrow . . . Mike Missanelli of 97.5 in Philly is broadcasting live from Bright House Field the next two days . . . WVSR, Selinsgrove, PA, is also here those two days.

Anniversary
On this date in 1967, Carpenter Complex opened. The spring training complex was a vision of Paul Owens, then the director of minor leagues and scouting.

Consistent, centralized instruction and evaluation was impossible up until the complex opened. For example, in 1966, the Phillies big club was in Clearwater, AAA and AA clubs trained in Dade City, FL, and Class A players in Leesburg, FL.

The complex is named after the Carpenter family who owned the Phillies form 1943 through 1981. A year ago, a bronze bust of Owens was added to the clubhouse entrance of the complex. That clubhouse was named the Paul Owens Training Facility.

By building the complex, Owens was able to start a Florida Instructional League program that is an annual post-season tradition.

Happy Birthday
Al Monchak turns 96 today, thus becoming the oldest living Phillies Alumnus. His career was a brief one, 19 games with the Phillies in 1940. He was a shortstop/second baseman.

He then entered the military for World War II and never played in the big leagues again. He did have a lengthy career as a coach in the majors, 1971-1988.

Who’ll Be Backup Infielders?

With J-Roll away for the World Baseball Classic, Galvis and Betancourt will get the most playing time at shortstop. They will also be battling for a spot on the 25-man roster as a reserve infielder.

Both have versatility as does Fransden, who is on the 40-man roster as is Galvis. Betancourt is a non-roster invitee. Michael Young can also play more than one infield postion but the “true” shortstops ae Galvis and Betancourt.

Camp Notes
Phillies are south in Bradenton to face the Pirates and then home the next three days . . . Tuesday, they will play the Dominican Republic team from the WBC. Coaching for the DR club is Juan Samuel . . . Minor league camp is in full swing daily, 10 a.m. starts for the workouts. Free parking and admission for fans except on days when the Phillies play next door at Bright House Field . . . The minor leaguers’ day began at 6 a.m. with concussion testing, followed by a two-hour photo session. Their day will end in early afternoon. 164 players are currently in camp.

Hard to Believe, Harry
Nine years ago today, the first game was played at Bright House Field. Marlon Byrd, Phillies centerfielder, got the first hit.

The Phlashback plus many others can be found on http://www.phillies.com/alumni.

The Alumni page will also contain a story about Ford (Moon) Mullen, who died last week at age 96. He was the oldest living Phillie. Condolences are extended to his widow, Jessie, and his family.

Spring Training Memories
Kevin Gross (RHP, 1983-88)
“It was 1981 with the Phillies in Clearwater. I don’t recall my uniform number other than it was a high number. We stayed at the Days Inn. I don’t remember my roomie, maybe Darren Daulton or Ed Wojna.

“I remember initially looking around at all the talent and saying to myself, ‘I have no chance of making it to the majors, let alone the minors.’ After several days I fit in pretty good and did well. The knowledge of the coaches and instructors was impressive and appreciated. I had never been around anything like that before. Waking up each morning to compete for a spot on a team was what I liked the most. I really didn’t have many things I didn’t like about it. I guess one thing would have been a little more time to go fishing.”

WBC Players Leaving Camp

Some players are leaving camp. No, there have been no trades or releases. The World Baseball Classic stars next week and some of those in the Phillies camp are heading for their respective teams.

Eleven players and two coaches from the Phillies are involved with the WBC. Only the Brewers and Twins, 13 each, have more players.

Players include SS Jimmy Rollins (USA), RHP Phillippe Aumont (Canada), INF Pete Orr (Canada), OF Tyson Gillies (Canada), LHP Jay Johnson (Canada), RHP Rodrigo Lopez (Mexico), C John Suomi (Canada),  C Sebastian Valle (Mexico), LHP Cesar Jimenez (Venezuela), INF Lucas Rojo (Brazil) and C Tim Kennelly (Australia).

First-base coach Juan Samuel will be coaching for the Dominican Republic, and Ernie Whitt, the Phillies’ minor league catching coordinator, will manage Team Canada.

On Tuesday, the Phillies will play the Dominican Republic team at Bright House Field.

Camp Notes
Phillies play the Blue Jays in Dunedin on Saturday, a three-mile trip. Bus leaves at 11:30 a.m. which means batting practice will take place at Bright House Field. MLB Network will tape the game and air it at 4 p.m. on Saturday . . . Sunday is a split squad day for the Phillies, one team at home against the Blue Jays and one team in Sarasota against the Orioles . . . Rob Ducey, an outfielder who played for the Blue Jays and Phillies, will throw out the ceremonial first pitch on Sunday. In late June, Duceywill be inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame . . . Citizens Bank Park suite holders are in town for the weekend, which is expected to be on the chilly side. One Tampa TV station is calling for snow flurries during the wee hours of Sunday.

Carpenter Complex Notes
First full squad workout for 170 minor leaguers will take place on Sunday. Workouts are open to the public free of charge. Parking is limited when the Phillies are playing at Bright House Field.

Photo day for the minor leaguers is 6 a.m. on Monday.

Did You Know?
Randy Lerch was traded on this date a long time ago.

The 1893 Phillies dominated the National League offensively.

The distance from the pitching mound to home plate was changed 120 years ago.

You can find all this at http://www.phillies.com/alumni.

Voting for the 2013 Wall of Fame can also be found on this page.

Spring Training Memories
Ozzie Virgil (C, 1980-85)“I was in the Phillies minor league camp in 1977. I remember that I wore No. 44 but I didn’t have a roommate. Lucky me. What impressed me was how good every player was in camp. I enjoyed being in Florida and working to become a better player. The hardest part was seeing your friends get released and sent home.”

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