Strange Friday; Alumni Day Saturday

Strange day at the ballpark yesterday. During a morning meeting of club executives, John Timberlake, Clearwater GM, poked his head in the door to let everyone know there is a chance that the rainy weather will begin clearing about 2 p.m., one hour after the normal game time.

A split squad with Ryne as the manager boarded the bus for the 1 hour, 20-minute trip east to Lakeland to play the Tigers. A little later, Ruben, Dallas and Gillick hopped in a car. Same destination.

Meanwhile, a windy, rainy storm came blowing through Bright House Field. You could barely see at one point because of the driving rain. The half-field tent, still in place from the previous night’s Fregosi party, held its ground. The dirt infield under the tent still got muddy. People’s cell phones received an alert that Pinellas County was under a tornado warning.

Gates normally open at 10:35 a.m. They did and a hand-full of fans began filing in even though it was raining. The visiting Yankees were called and briefed on the conditions. They wanted to play and so did the Phillies. So, the NY buses headed west on Route 60 out of Tampa.

Finally, at 2:30 p.m. the game began as the rain stopped and the skies in the west began to get brighter. The Lakeland game was canceled. Ruben, Dallas and Gillick returned in time for the game. Then, the Lakeland bus returned and a few players were dispatched to the dugout.

MLB’s new reply system was being tested for the first time for a Phillies game. But, a power surge wiped out the system in the TV truck, something Ryne learned when he challenged call in the seventh inning.

Having two games, more players were needed, primarily as back-ups. Normally 3-5 minor leaguers are dispatched from Carpenter Complex for a game. Well, eight minor leaguers got to ride the bus to and from Lakeland. Seven others got to sit on the bench or in the bullpen at Bright House Field. One of the seven got into the game, pinch runner Albert Cartwright.

A strange day indeed.

Tweets of the Day
**The Oak Ridge Boys (performing at the Strawberry Festival in Plant City, located about mid-way between Clearwater and Lakeland): “The @Phillies beat writer @ToddZolecki says game in Clearwater will go at 2:30. We go @FLStrawberryFst at 3:30 so rain MAY be moving out.”

**Justin Verlander (scheduled to start in Lakeland against the Phillies): “Rain rain go away so that I may pitch today.”

**Colorado Rockies scout, Will George: “What a great celebration the Phillies hosted yesterday and a fitting tribute to Jim Fregosi.”

Camp Notes
9:00 a.m. buses today for Sarasota to take on the Orioles (live on MLB.com) . . . Evening meeting involving Rube an Ryne and their respective staffs to review the 58 players in camp . . . Back home Saturday to face a Houston split squad. MLB replay system will be in play . . . Latino minor league players at Carpenter Complex will undergo English lessons the next two days after the workout . . . Sunday: long road trip south to play the Twins.

Alumni Day
35 former players will be on hand for the first Phillies Alumni Day in spring training tomorrow.

Selected Alumni will participate in pre-game autograph stations while other interaction with fans will be a surprise. All Alumni will be introduced on the field pre-game.
Dallas Green will sell and autograph his book, The Mouth That Roared, prior to the game.

Among the Alumni scheduled to attend, in addition to Green, are Dick Allen, Jack Baldschun, Dave Cash, Darren Daulton, Billy DeMars, John Denny, Brandon Duckworth, Dave LaPoint, Sixto Lezcano, Brad Lidge, Greg Luzinski, Gary Matthews, Denis Menke, Dickie Noles, Tomas Perez, Robert Person, Shane Rawley, Gene Schall and Kent Tekulve plus former Phillies in the team’s major and minor league camps. The list subject to change.

Countdown To Opening Day
24, down to two dozen days before the Phillies and Rangers begin the season in Texas.

Let’s see Andy Seminick, Bill Robinson, Keith Moreland, Tony Perez and Milt Thompson have worn the number, including many others. For longevity, Mike Lieberthal is the hands down leader, 13 straight years. Managers wore #24 from 1949 to opening day in 1960: Eddie Sawyer, Steve O’Neill, Mayo Smith and Sawyer again. Sawyer wore the number for six-plus seasons. Clete Thomas, a non-roster outfielder in camp, is currently #24.

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