March 2014

2 Road Days

Greg Luzinski is in uniform as a guest instructor . . . Today is Brad Lidge’s last day in a similar capacity . . . MLB.com carries today’s (Braves) and tomorrow’s (Orioles) road games live . . . Games at Carpenter Complex tomorrow feature two Class A clubs of the Phillies against the Pirates; 1 p.m. for both games . . . Phillies are hitting .194, lowest among NL clubs in spring training . . . Yankees lead all Florida teams in attendance; Phillies are second . . . Phillies home to the Yankees on Thursday . . . Phillies Insider ranked 20th among MLB Pro blogs cetegory last month, a move up from 23rd. Thanks.

Opening Day Countdown
20 days until the Phillies and Rangers open the season in Texas.

No secret who wore this number longer than anyone in Phillies history, Mike Schmidt, 17 seasons. When he came up in 1972, he was #22 as Roger Freed was wearing #20. Freed was traded after that season and Schmidt switched to #20. The number was retired on May 26, 1990. Prior to Schmidt, Ruben Amaro Sr. had the longest streak, five seasons. First ever to wear #20 was LHP Stew Bolen in 1932.

Spring Training Memories
Chuck Essegian (OF, 1958)
“My first big league camp was 1958 in Clearwater. Believe we stayed at the Clearwater Hotel, but not sure. Tommy Qualters, a bonus-baby, was my roommate. He was always chewing tobacco and I tried to talk him out of it. My number was 37. I had played four years of minor league baseball so I wasn’t really nervous about being in a big league camp for the first time.”

Spring Training Fun Fact
March 11, 1947–Phillies lose, 13-1, to Detroit Tigers in their first ever Clearwater game. Attendance was 1,766 at Athletic Field. Phillies manager Ben Chapman bristled after the loss, “I don’t intend to take any more 13-1 lickings. We’re playing every game as if it counted in the standings.”

Alumni Videos
http://www.phillies.com/alumni has added a pair of video features, one the tribute to the late Jim Fregosi and the other, a recap of Alumni Day. Check ‘em out.

Photo Gallery on phillies.com page also features a lot of still images from Alumni Day by Miles Kennedy.

Alumni Day Recap

Daulton8923First ever Alumni Day in spring training went well Saturday, except Larry Andersen’s golf cart. LA was driving a golf cart to the parking lot and carting fans to the main gate at Bright House Field. He made one trip and the gear shift jammed. “It only worked in reverse,” laughed LA. “I’m not a good driver going backwards so we had to call it a day.”

Phillie Phanatic’s 4-wheeler did work and Darren Daulton got to ride on it during the introductions.

The line for autographs was a long one but we got almost everyone through by going 65 minutes. Dick Allen, Greg Luzinski, Shane Rawley, Jack Baldschun, Kent Tekulve, Billy DeMars and Sixto Lezcano were behind the tables.

John Denny, Gary Matthews, Tomas Perez and Dick Noles greeted fans at the four gates, distributing an Alumni Newsletter. Inside the Diamond Outfitters story cashier area, Darren Daulton and Dave Cash served as bag stuffers. Cash also announced the starting lineups before 35 Alumni were introduced on the field.

The Bull teamed with Phillie Phanatic and the hot dog shooter.

Camp Notes
Braves in Clearwater this afternoon in another game feeaturing instant replay testing . . . Busses leave at 8 a.m. tomorrow for Orlando where the same two teams meet . . . The Phillies AAA and AA clubs will face their respective teams from Toronto’s minor league camp tomorrow afternoon (1 o’clock) at Carpenter Complex. Parking is free with the Phillies out of town . . . MLB’s drug program will be presented to the minor leagues early in the morning.

Happy Birthday to……
Today: OF Johnny Briggs (70), LHP Tom Hilgendorf (72), RHP Mike Timlin (48) . . . Tomorrow: OF Bobby Abreu (40), OF Phil Bradley (55), LHP Jack Spring (81) . . . Wednesday: OF Dale Murphy (58) . . . Thursday: INF Mariano Duncan (51), INF Luis Aguayo (55) . . . Friday: C Jerry Willard (54) . . . Saturday: INF Kim Batiste (46), C Dave Watkins (70) . . . Sunday: Abraham Nunez (38), RHP Charles Hudson (55).

Countdown to Opening Day
21 days until the Phillies begin the season at the Texas Rangers.

This is a tricky one. Greg Gross wore #21 for seven seasons which makes him the leader, if you limit it to players only. Andy Seminick is second with six but if you add coaching years, he moves ahead of GG. Here’s a bizarre sequence for #21: Andy wore it in 1949-50-51, was traded to Reds in a big deal for catcher Smokey Burgess who wore #21 in 1952-53-54-55 before being traded back to the Reds in a big deal for Seminick, who resumed wearing the number in 1955-56 and as a coach, 1957-58. Hope you could follow that. Now, another catcher, Will Nieves, is #21.

Spring Training Fun Fact
March 10, 1955–Phillies defeat Detroit Tigers, 4-2, in first game played at Jack Russell Stadium before a Clearwater record crowd of 4,209. RHP Robin Roberts started and 3B Willie Jones won it with a two-run double. Total attendance for the entire spring was 16,832.

Opening Day, 22 Days Away

Managers0245During Alumni Day yesterday, Ryne was joined at home plate in presenting the lineup by two former Phillies managers, Larry Bowa and Dallas Green. More on Alumni Day tomorrow. Photo: Miles Kennedy.

Manager Wants to See YouThose words were delivered to six players before yesterday’s game: RHP Luis Garcia, RHP Michael Stutes, OF Aaron Altherr, OF Leandro Castro, OF Kelly Dugan and C Sebastian Valle. The message: you are being assigned to the minor league camp next door a Carpenter Complex.

Then, after the game, LHP Jesse Biddle got the same message.

Camp now totals 51 players. Have to get to the 25-man opening day limit by March 30.

Dirty Job?
Frank Coppenbarger is the Director of Team Travel and Clubhouse Services. Team travel today meant having two busses for Ft. Myers and a game with the Twins. Departure was 7:45 a.m.

He didn’t ride the bus, instead drove his mini-van, a 2-hour, 45-minute journey, which meant he beat the busses. First order of business will be to pick up tickets to fill the orders of the players and executives. He’ll stay around for BP and then take that sweaty gear back to Clearwater. A couple of clubhouse personnel will take care of the unpacking, the game and packing in Ft. Myers. When Frank returns to Bright House Field, more personnel will wash the sweaty gear from Ft. Myers. Otherwise, all that would take place after the busses return, which will be sometime between 6 and 7 p.m. There’s more washing to be done (uniforms) then.

Three minor league pitchers, Jordan Guth, Ryan O’Sullivan and Austin Wright, got to take the trip to Ft. Myers.

Camp Notes
Back home tomorrow to host the Braves. Same teams meet the following day in Orlando . . . Starting Tuesday afternoon, two minor league games will be held at Carpenter Complex. That’ll be the same schedule through March 28. So, while the Phillies are out of town on Tuesday, fans can see two minor league games. Free parking and free admission. Players from the major league camp will also make appearances in minor league games from time to time . . . WXTU will broadcast live tomorrow morning (8-10) from the Tiki Bar . . . After the game, the Phillies staff and Clearwater Threshers staff will salute two 25-year employees, scout Roy Tanner and Opie Cheek, head groundskeeper in Clearwater. Each will receive a 25-year ring.

Countdown to Opening Day
22 more days until the Phillies begin the season in Texas.

Well, 33 different players have worn the number for one season. You’ll never guess who are the co-leaders with five years each….OF Mike Anderson and OF Jason Michaels. Three-year club includes Bobby Dernier, Karl Drews, Woodie Fryman, Ruben Gomez, Tony Gonzalez, Jim Hearn, John Herrnstein and Herm Wehmeier. That group spans several decades. But, there are more oddities: Cecil (Turkey) Tyson had one hitless AB as a pinch-hitter in 1944, Mike Schmidt was #22 when he made his big league debut in 1972 and a pitcher, Snipe Hansen, was the first to wear it in 1932. Currently, pitching coach Bob McClure has the number.

Countdown at 23

Houston split squad today at Bright House Field and a 130-mile trip south to Ft. Myers tomorrow to face the Twins. Busses leave at 7:45 a.m. tomorrow. With daylight savings time now in effect tomorrow, wonder if anyone will be late because they didn’t change their clock. It has happened.

With Tom McCarthy and Matt Stairs away on other assignments, Greg Murphy and Jamie Moyer will be on the Phillies telecast today.

Tomorrow afternoon (2 o’clock) at Al Lang Field in St. Petersburg a team of Phillies minor leaguers will face the Canadian Junior National Team in the Prospect Series. Rest of Phillies minor leaguers will work out at Carpenter Complex. Free admission and parking.

Countdown to Opening Day
23 more days and baseball for real begins for the Phillies. This year, an interleague game in Texas against the Rangers.

A bundle have worn the number a minimum of three years. Four wore it four seasons, Ollie Brown, Greg Gross and Randy Ready. But the all-time leader with seven years is Kevin Jordan. But, let’s not forget Leroy Reams who had one at-bat in his major league career, striking out as a pinch hitter in 1969. Currently, Ryne Sandberg wears it, the number he wore with the Cubs for 13 years. For the record, Ryne is the first Phillies manager to wear #23.

This Date
1941—RHP Hugh Mulcahy becomes first major league player drafted into the Armed Forces during World War II

More historic moments can be found on http://www.phillies.com/alumni, including a video recap of Wednesday’s Jim Fregosi’s pre-game tribute.

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.

Celebrating Mr. Fregosi’s Life

They came from all parts of the country to celebrate the life of the late Jim Fregosi yesterday at Bright House Field. “They” were former players, former teammates and fellow scouts.

Mr. Fregosi’s widow, five children and four grandchildren were on hand for a pre-game tribute and a post-game, invitation-only party for the baseball community. That party, held under a large tent on the half-field, totaled over 300.

Among Mr. Fregosi’s teammates were Buck Rodgers (California), Bobby Knoop (Arizona), Clyde Wright (California) and Lee Thomas (Orioles scout). Close to 40 scouts also came to Clearwater, more than a normal game.

Phillies Alumni included Darren Daulton, Kent Tekulve, John Kruk, Randy Ready, Milt Thompson, Dave Cash, Robert Person, Lee Elia, Mike Lavalliere, Don Robinson, Dave Hollins, Darold Knowles, John Morris, Dave LaPoint and Greg Luzinski. Ready traveled came from California.

Camp Notes
Brad Lidge is in uniform as a guest instructor for eight days, working with the relievers . . . Split squad headed for Lakeland to play the Tigers today; Ryno was on the 8:45 a.m. bus . . . Bowa is managing the Phillies against the Yankees at Bright House Field . . . Weather forecast is calling for 90% change of rain and thunderstorms . . . Trip to Sarasota to play the Orioles on Friday and back home Sunday to face the Astros split squad . . . 58 players still in camp with the first cut coming soon . . . Saturday is the first-ever Alumni Day in spring training.

Spring Training Memories
Chris Coste (C, 2006-2009)
“1999, Pirates minor league spring training camp in Bradenton, FL. Don’t remember my uniform number. I’m sure it was a high number. Pirate City had dormitories and that’s where we lived. My roommate was from the Dominican and he spoke no English. I was constantly nervous because I didn’t know the daily routine. A first I was unsure if I was good enough to be at that level but after throwing to bases and taking batting practice, I quickly realized that I belonged. For the first time baseball felt like a way of life and for me, that was a good thing. I didn’t like being treated like a child. With so many players in camp, they ran it like a boot camp and it was odd for me because I was much older than most of the players who were at my level.”

Opening Day Countdown
25 is the magic number as we count down the days to the season opener in Texas.

OF Tony Gonzalez and OF Del Unser share for the most years wearing that number, 10. Remember Jerry Martin and more recently, David Bell and Jim Thome? Cody Asche currently is #25.

Special Birthday

A very special birthday today to former Phillies infielder Alex (Al) Monchak who is celebrating #97.

Monchak is the oldest of eight nonagenarian Phillies Alumni. Among all former players, only catcher Mike Sandlock (98) and pitcher Connie Marrero (102) are older.

His big league career as a player was a short one, 19 games (.143) with the Phillies in 1940. During World War II, Al served in the army for three years, 1943-45. While his playing career was short, he coached in the majors for 17 seasons with the White Sox, A’s, Pirates and Braves. He owns a World Series ring (Pirates in 1979).

Speaking of birthday cakes order one for Kent Tekulve today, 67. “Teke” is a former teammate of the late Jim Fregosi with the Pirates and is part of today’s pre-game tribute to Jim. Teke will also be at Bright House Field on Saturday for the first ever Phillies Alumni Day in spring training. He’s spending time in the Pirates camp in Bradenton this spring.

Camp Notes
Offense certainly has been off to a sputtering start, .194 team average . . . Tomorrow, regular game and split squad. The Yankees come to Clearwater with Tanaka starting. A Phillies split squad will leave for Lakeland at 8:45 to play the Tigers who will start Verlander . . . Phillies minor leaguers continue daily drills at Carpenter Complex. They will begin playing games against other minor leaguers on March 11.

Opening Day Countdown
26 more days until the first pitch of the regular season, this year in Texas against the Rangers.

There’s little doubt which player is most identified with #26, Chase Utley who is in his 12th straight season of wearing the number. Gene Garber held the longevity mark before Chase, five seasons starting in 1974 with Jeff Stone one season behind. It should be noted that Hall of Famer Chuck Klein wore #26 when he came back to the Phillies in 1939 and again in 1944 when he was a player-coach, .143 in his last four games.

Spring Training Fun Fact
Rheal Cormier was the pitcher of record when the Phillies won their final game at Jack Russell Memorial Stadium (3/26/2003). He held the same distinction with the last Phillies win at Veterans Stadium (9/27/2003) and the first at Citizens Bank Park (4/15/2004)

Lone Home Night Game

With a night game today, players got a chance to sleep in. Reporting time is 3 o’clock for the game against Toronto. Game can be seen on Comcast SportsNet and mlb.com. It was also taped and will be shown on the Baseball Network at midnight.

Tomorrow, the Braves visit Clearwater with a tribute to the late Jim Fregosi taking place at 1 and the game to follow. Comcast SportsNet will carry the tribute live. Players need to be dressed by 8 a.m. for a meeting with the Baseball Assistance Team. They take the field at 10 for the usual pre-game routine.

Lots of radio for the day starting with WIP at 5:30 a.m. (live from Lenny’s Restaurant), St. Petersburg’s WDAE at 9 a.m., WUSL from Selinsgrove, PA, doing a game broadcast and ESPN Deportes on the air from 10 a.m. till 4 p.m.

Alumni Note
Belated congratulations to Rice University baseball coach Wayne Graham who posted his 1,000 win on Valentine’s Day.

Graham, 77, was an infielder originally signed by the Phillies in 1957. He played briefly in 1963, was traded to the Mets in a deal for Frank Thomas and then came back to the Phillies organization in a deal involving Dick Stuart going to New York. His career included part of one season for both the Phillies and Mets and 11 in the minors.

Dallas Green was a teammate in 1963. He sent a letter of congrats, noting they have several things in common, including white hair.

Spring Training Memories
Bob Boone (C, 1972-81)
“First spring training was a big league camp at Jack Russell Stadium in 1970. I don’t have a clue as to my uniform number but I do know it wasn’t 8. Stayed at the Jack Tar Hotel. Barry Lersch was my roommate but I roomed with his clothing more often than with him. I’ll never forget that first day. Frank Lucchesi (manager) said every job in camp is wide open. I came from Class A ball but really thought I had a chance after hearing Frank. Rookies get to play in a lot of the early games and I crushed the ball, hit .400. When he first cut was made, I was on the list, headed for the complex. I was crushed.”

Opening Day Countdown
27. Yep, that many days until the Phillies begin their 131st season, this time on the road against the Texas Rangers.

The leader board: Placido Polanco and Ken Heintzelman, six seasons each; Jack Baldschun and Willie Montanez, five; tied with four, Lonnie Smith, Kent Tekulve, Bobby Estalella and Chris Coste. Currently, Roberto Hernandez.

Remebering Mr. Fregosi

FregosiTable12071
The late Jim Fregosi always sat in the same seat in the Media Room at Bright House Field when he was scouting for the Braves. In memory of Mr. Fregosi, the Phillies are keeping the table and one chair empty until Thursday.

Braves and Phillies will pay tribute to Mr. Fregosi on Wednesday. Festivities begin at 1 with the game to start at 1:20 p.m. Comcast SportsNet will carry the emotional program live. Atlanta is playing at Bright House Field on Wednesday and suggested a tribute be held here with Mr. Fregosi’s widow Joni and their three children living in nearby Tarpon Springs. His other children, Jim Jr. and his family, and Jennifer Pickler and her daughter, are flying in from California.

Camp Notes
Phillies play their only night game in Clearwater tomorrow, 6:35 (Blue Jays) . . . Before the game, the communications department has set a photo shoot with the broadcasters . . . Tanaka is scheduled to pitch Thursday when the Yankees come to Clearwater. Phillies will have a split squad going to Lakeland the same day to face the Tigers.

Alumni Everywhere
Darren Daulton and Pedro Feliz attended Friday’s game . . . Sarge is back in uniform as a guest instructor . . . Bob Walk and Nick Levya came with the Pirates on Sunday . . . Quite a few Alumni will attend Wednesday’s tribute to Mr. Fregosi.

First-ever Alumni Day is scheduled for this Saturday. More on that in a day or two. Tickets are available.

Birthday Week
Today: RHP Bobby Locke (80), RHP Bobby Munoz (46) . . . Tomorrow: OF Lee Tinsley (45) . . . Wednesday: RHP Steve Ontiveros (53), RHP Doug Bird (64), RHP Kent Tekulve (67), INF Al Monchak (97) . . . Thursday: RHP Terry Adams (41), INF Cookie Rojas (75) . . . Friday: CH Galen Cisco (78) . . . Saturday: 1B Dick Allen (72) . . . Sunday: C Benito Santiago (49), LHP Terry Mulholland (51).

Opening Day Countdown
28 days until the Phillies and Rangers open the season in Texas.

This number was worn by Curt Simmons for 12 seasons (1948-50; 52-60). He was followed by Art Mahaffey, six seasons (1960-65). Two have worn it for four seasons, Tyler Green and Jayson Werth. Not to be overlooked are INF Roy Hughes (1939-40) and P Tommy Hughes (1941; 1946-47. They are not related. Wearing it since 2012 is Kevin Fransden.

10 Years Ago
Tomorrow, Phillies defeated New York Yankees, 5-1, in first game played at Bright House Network Field before 8,205, a Clearwater record. CF Marlon Byrd got 1st hit; SS Jimmy Rollins, 1st home run.

You’ll find other March moments in Phillies history by visiting http://www.phillies.com/alumni

A. J. Today

First of four games this spring against the Pirates on tap this afternoon at Bright House Field. A. J. makes first start today

Tomorrow, 8:15 a.m. bus for trip south to Port Charlotte and the only spring match-up against the Tampa Bay Rays. Hard to believe the Rays don’t visit Clearwater this year.

8:15 a.m. may appear to be early but pity the minor leaguers. Photo day is tomorrow morning, 6:30 start. Flash bulbs would be needed to get my eyes to open at that hour. Even earlier is the WIP morning show that will be live from the dark Tiki Bar starting at 5:30 a.m. this week.

With the Phillies out of town tomorrow, the minor leaguers will continue their daily 10 a.m. drills at Carpenter Field. Parking is free at the complex when the Phillies aren’t home.

Opening Day Countdown
We’re down to 29 more days for the Phillies first game at the Texas Rangers.

The longest-tenured player to wear this number was Stan Lopata, 10 years (1949-58). Others with multiple years, Grant Jackson, six (1965-70) and four each, John Kruk (1991-94), Wendell Magee (1996-99) and Marlon Byrd (2002-5). Hall of Famer Chuck Klein wore seven different numbers with the Phillies including #29 for three seasons (1940-42). When Jimmy Rollins came up in 2000, he was #29. Currently, Cameron Rupp.

Spring Training Fun Fact
Courtesy broadandpattison.com:
1946–The Phillies open spring training in Miami beach with a scrimmage in Flamingo Park. It will be the last year they train somewhere other than Clearwater.

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