Players were walking up and down the hallways of Bright House Field on a very busy Monday morning off the diamond.
The crew that televises Phillies games was set up in the media room where pitchers and hitters posed for the videos and interviews that you will see during the season on Comcast SportsNet and MYPHL 17.
At the same time Majestic, the official uniform supplier of the Phillies, had a crew in the equipment room. A steady stream of players stopped by to be fitted for their 2011 uniforms. Frank Coppenbarger, who runs the Phillies Clubhouse, says baseball fashion has changed over the years. Gone are tight fitting pants, replaced by much baggier ones. Also, the pants drop down over the tops of their cleats so no socks ever show.
The players also heard from nutritionist, Katie Cavuto. Katie always has the latest information on what to eat and how much so the players can fuel their bodies for peak performance. The Major League Baseball Players Association also had a presence here today. In the lunchroom the marquee players stopped by for head scans that will be used in baseballs newest video games.
The starting pitchers continue to be the subjects of photo ops. On Sunday, the five starters had a session in the Carpenter Complex batting cages for the Phillies Magazine cover in April. Today, New York Times Magazine photographed the four starters (no Joe). On Wednesday, the same four will be photographed for Sports Illustrated (2 p.m.) and USA TODAY (3 p.m.) All 59 players will go through photo day Tuesday morning for media and licensees. Generally 8-10 stations are set up in the indoor batting cages and outside starting at 7 a.m.
Media opportunities should slow down as the Phillies look ahead to their first game, Thursday afternoon, against Florida State University.
Mike Schmidt’s arrival was delayed until Tuesday . . . First Grapefruit League game is Saturday afternoon, the Yankees in Tampa . . . Same teams meet Sunday at Bright House Field. Both games will be broadcast on 1210 AM, the Big Talker and the Phillies radio network.
(Scott Palmer contributed to today’s blog).
This was the last day before Saturday’s full squad reporting day, even though the lineup has already been here for most of the week. Saturday morning is also the annual spring training clubhouse meeting. The doors will be closed to the media as the players hear from Ruben and Charlie. Expect the skipper to once again challenge his players to work hard and never stop learning about the game. He will also motivate the younger guys who weren’t with the club last year to play well enough that they force him to make some tough roster decisions.
Then, 59 players will head out the back door of Bright House Field for the four fields at the Carpenter Complex. They’ll work out from about 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. each day this weekend. Live batting practice may enter the picture on Sunday.
On the schedule for next week is Photo Day on Tuesday morning. That’s when photographers from Philadelphia area newspapers, wire services and licensees will set up stations in the indoor batting cages at Bright House Field.
Among the licensees will be the baseball card companies. You know, those are the cards we older fans put on the spokes of our bike wheels. Now they’re safely secured in sealed notebooks and appraised for their value. On that subject what do you think a Dominick Brown rookie card will sell for twenty years from now? Probably a lot.
Raul Ibanez will have a new look on his card. Raul now has a full black beard to go with his shaved head. Ryan Howard told him this morning that it looks like he’s escaped from prison. He said, “Hey Raul, even your whiskers look mean!”
After today’s workout, the starting pitchers headed for the golf course where they met up with John Smoltz. The former Braves ace is still an excellent golfer, and their day on the course was taped for a future airing on MLB Network. Bragging rights were on the line so you can expect some serious trash talking tomorrow when the full squad officially reports for spring training..
Mike Schmidt begins a two-week stint as a guest instructor on Saturday . . . Larry Bowa will be signing autographs from 12 noon to 1 p.m. Saturday in the Majestic Clubhouse Store at Citizens Bank Park . . . 3.3 million tickets have been sold after a record 70,000 tickets were purchased Thursday, the first day of individual game ticket sales. 15 of the 81 home games are sold out . . . If you are in the Clearwater area, there’s a Big East/Big Ten challenge baseball doubleheader on Saturday at Bright House Field; Ohio State vs. Louisville at 4 p.m.; Iowa vs. Pittsburgh at 7:30 p.m.
(Scott Palmer contributed to the blog today. Be sure to watch his video interviews from Clearwater on phillies.com, Monday through Friday. Phillies Insider will return on Monday).
The great run of spectacular weather continues in Clearwater.
Chase Utley took advantage by meeting with all of the media down the left field line at Bright House Field. Chase was asked about the great response today as single game tickets went on sale up north. He praised the passion of the Phillies fans and said he and his teammates are looking forward to once again playing in front of sold out crowds at home. You can see the Utley interview later tonight on phillies.com., along with a feature on the new Lehigh Valley IronPigs manager and Hall of Fame second baseman, Ryne Sandberg.
Did you know that there are only two players to play in the major leagues with the first name, Ryne? And, both played for the Phillies. The other was a pitcher, the late Ryne Duren, who was with the Phillies from 1963-65.
The position players aren’t the only ones who have shown up early. Broadcasters Larry Andersen and Gary (Sarge) Matthews and Chris Wheeler are all in camp. LA spent the morning watching the pitchers, while Sarge, to no one’s surprise, finds a seat in the dugout at Bright House Field where the hitters are doing their thing.
Reliever David Herndon is the proud owner of a new guitar. The right-hander has been playing for about four years but this is his first electric guitar and amp. He bought it yesterday in Clearwater and it’s made by a company called Ibanez. No relation to Raul Ibanez, and for the record it’s pronounced EEE’-BEN-EZ. Ironically Raul also plays guitar and last year picked up his own Ibanez model.
The latest photo shoot in camp is Philly Magazine. Cliff Lee will be on the cover of the April issue which will also feature an interview with Ruben.
Friday’s the last day before all 59 players will work out as a unit. The 10 a.m. workouts at Carpenter Field are open to fans. Starting on Saturday, all four diamonds at Carpenter Field will be used. Plenty to see for fans.
Another Chamber of Commerce day in Clearwater and another day of early arrivals. Ryan Howard, Shane Victorino, Placido Polanco, and Wilson Valdez were among the position players who reported ahead of schedule. Everyone is talking about rededicating themselves to the same goal, a season that ends with something special.
Camera’s are everywhere. Tomorrow a crew from Philly Magazine will be in camp. They will do a photo shoot with Cliff Lee and Ruben Amaro Jr. The magazine’s April issue will be devoted to the Phillies. It will include a feature on Ruben and also be devoted to our great fans.
From the first day of camp Dallas Green has been met with well wishers expressing their condolences on the tragic passing of his granddaughter Christina Green. This morning the Phillies Senior Adviser to the General Manager made himself available to the media and was eloquent in his remarks.
Daily News Live continues broadcasting live from Bright House Field on Comcast SportsNet. Tonight’s guests include David Montgomery, Rich Dubee and Chase Utley. Air time each day through Friday is 5 p.m.
Today’s menu of video feeds for phillies.com includes Polanco and Charlie.
Individual tickets go on sale Wednesday morning . . . First day of the full squad workout is Saturday . . . Photo day for the media is Tuesday . . . First game is February 24 against Florida State.
(Scott Palmer contributed to today’s blog).
After yesterday’s news conference with RCRCJ which brought a swelling of media, including the national types, to Clearwater, today’s clubhouse scene was more like the early days of spring training.
Sports Illustrated Senior Writer and MLB Network contributor John Heyman spent most of the morning’s media availability interviewing Lidge. At the other end of the room home clubhouse manager Phil Sheridan was getting ready for another day in the laundry room. Yep, a Notre Dame grad washes clothing. Before the team heads north Phil will go through about thirty-five giant boxes of detergent, big enough to double as dog houses. According to Phil, he starts the washing machines at about 11 o’clock every morning and they aren’t finished cleaning all of the uniforms until five hours later. He estimates that before the 2011 season is over he will do 3,000 loads of laundry.
While Phil is scrubbing, the Fightin’s were busy at Carpenter Field getting all of those uniforms dirty. Today, groups 2 and 3 saw their first action on the bullpen mounds. That meant Cliff threw for the first time along with Roy-O and Joe.
The players are taking advantage of Chamber of Commerce weather in this beautiful Gulf Coast City. Temperatures are in the lower 70’s and forecast to climb about two degrees every day until the weekend. And there’s no rain in sight.
Good conditions for hitting. Domonick Brown and John Mayberry Jr. put on a long ball show during batting practice at Bright House Field. One could only hope the alligator that lives in a pond beyond the right field wall was wearing a batting helmet.
Comcast SportsNet is spending this week in camp. Yesterday, they taped two exclusive shows with RCRCJ that will air on Sunday night (20th) and Sunday, the 27th. Michael Barkann is hosting Daily News Live from Bright House Field from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Phillies In The Community
Cliff ended his workout today by showing his charitable side. Cliff and his wife, Kristen, are supporting the Ronald McDonald House Charities telethon which will be broadcast live on KYW-TV (CBS) on March 15. The first 20 viewers who make a contribution of $750 or more during the telethon will have the chance to meet Cliff on May 25, provided he’s not pitching that day. If he is, an alternate date will be chosen. Those 20 people will also have lunch in the Phillies executive dining room and take in a game. The Public Service Announcement, featuring Cliff, was taped today. It will begin airing on KYW soon to encourage telethon tune-in.
Videos on phillies.com today will feature Kendrick, Charlie and J. C. Romero . . . Voting for the Phillies Wall of Fame for 2011 is underway today on phillies.com. Fans can vote through March 15. Mike Lieberthal and Curt Schilling are the new names on the 12-Alumni ballot . . . Dallas Green met with the media on Wednesday morning. Bonnie Clark (VP of Communications) had received numerous requests for Dallas following the tragic death of his granddaughter, Christina Green. Dallas felt the best approach was to do one group session with the media early in spring training . . . Larry Bowa will sign autographs from 12 noon to 1 p.m. this Saturday in the Majestic Clubhouse Store at Citizens Bank Park . . . Mitch Williams was the guest speaker at the Distributors, Inc., meeting this morning in the Diamond Club.
(Scott Palmer and Bonnie Clark contributed to this blog today).
When Bright House Field security guard Ron Holzwarth opened the gate for Roy Halladay at 4:45 this morning, the start of the 2011 baseball season officially began.
The Phillies are one of 11 teams to open today for pitchers and catchers. Judging by the list of local and national media in attendance, it’s easy to see that the Phillies are the “story” of spring training.
The clubhouse in Clearwater opens every day to the media at 8 a.m. At 8:01, the clubhouse was packed. The local writers milled around the clubhouse catching up with the players they cover on a regular basis including Todd Zolecki (MLB.com), Jim Salisbury (CSNPHILLY.COM), Bob Brookover and Matt Gelb (Inquirer), Paul Hagen, Bill Conlin and David Murphy (Daily News), Ryan Lawrence (Delco Times), Mandy Housenick (The Morning Call), Anthony San Filippo (Trenton Times) and David Hale (Wilmington News Journal).
Local TV personalities lined up their first interviews of the Spring including Beasley Reece (CBS), Michael Barkann (CSN), Jamie Apody (ABC), John Clark (NBC) and Anthony Gargano (Fox). Gargano will also be broadcasting his radio show on WIP live from the Tiki Bar this week. Michael Smerconish from WPHT interviewed Charlie Manuel, Brad Lidge and Frank Coppenbarger (Director of Team Travel and Clubhouse Services). Jack O’Rourke from KYW Radio is marking his 15th year covering the team.
On a national basis, the list is impressive…Jayson Stark and Buster Olney (ESPN.com), Gary Smith and Jon Heyman (Sports Illustrated), Hal Bodley (MLB.com), Scott Miller (CBSSports.com), Seth Livingstone (USA Today), Matt Yallof (MLB Network), Ken Davidoff (Newsday), Ken Rosenthal (FOX), Jeff Passan (Yahoo! Sports), Tyler Kepner (NY Times), Kevin Kernan (NY Post) and Dave Sheinen (Washington Post).
At 10:01 a.m., a pop was heard when a baseball met a newly broken-in glove. Pitching coach Rich Dubee has divided his pitchers into four groups. Groups 1 and 2 threw off seven bullpen mounds at Carpenter Field. Doc was the first of the starters to throw. Since Doc has been working out in Clearwater for most of the winter, it was no surprise that he looked like he hadn’t missed a beat. Cole replaced Doc on the hill and also threw effortlessly.
The most humorous moment came when Gulf Coast League manager Roly deArmas was pressed into action behind the plate. It was Roly’s misfortunate to be the one catching former Tigers pitcher, Eddie Bonine, who features a knuckleball. It brought to mind that Bob Uecker used to say the best way to catch a knuckleball is to wait until it stops rolling and pick it up.
Following the workout, the overflow media contingent turned the Bright House Field lunchroom into a full blown conference as RCRCJ (Roy, Cliff, Roy, Cole, Joe) talked about the high expectations everyone has for this staff. Complete coverage is on phillies.com.
All in all it was a very busy first day here in Clearwater, much more hype than the 10 other camps that opened today. Spring has officially arrived!
(Contributors today were John Brazer (Director, Publicity) and Scott Palmer (Director, Public Affairs) for the Phillies. Palmer’s video interviews are on phillies.com, Monday through Fridays).
When the Phillies signed Cliff Lee as a free agent, a buzz spread throughout baseball, the media and fans. That buzz will intensify when pitchers and catchers take the field to begin spring training on Monday.
The Phillies’ Communications Department is going to be busy fielding media requests for the starting rotation. Photo op requests have already come from the New York Times Magazine, Sports Illustrated and Philadelphia Magazine. That’s the tip of the iceberg.
Following Monday’s first workout, the Phillies have issued a media alert that Halladay, Hamels, Oswalt, Lee and Blanton will be available as a group in the media lunchroom at Bright House Field. It will be the one time the rotation will be together for the media. Individual one-on-ones will be accommodated as spring training unfolds.
Weighing media demands vs. allowing the pitchers (or players, for that matter) to get in their daily work is a challenge the Communications Department faces. Priority must go to the daily schedules of the players. There will be occasions when a media request will be denied, creating an issue. Somehow the world will continue spinning.
Charlie, Ruben and their respective staffs will begin meeting at 10 a.m. on Saturday in the meeting room at the Carpenter Field Clubhouse. They’ll discuss each of the 59 players in camp. Sunday afternoon is reserved for a golf outing for the staffs, their lone break from being on the field every day until the season opener.
Comcast Sportsnet’s Daily News Live Show will be live from Bright House Field starting on Monday. They’ll be on the air starting at 5 p.m. daily through Friday, the 18th . . . Comcast SportsNet and the Major League Baseball Network will carry Monday’s media session with the starting pitchers live . . . First Philly radio personality in camp will be Mike Smerconish of The Big Talker. He’ll be there Monday afternoon getting interviews for his shows . . . KYW News Radio will once again be represented by the veteran (kind word for being old) Jack O’Rourke. He’ll be filing daily reports throughout the spring. His first report always starts with the equipment truck’s blaring air horn when the truck arrives at Bright House Field, which was last Sunday. Yes, he’s there early for that major event. Tough assignment . . . Cliff Lee is being inducted into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame Friday night . . . Ruben will be the April cover story for the South Jersey Magazine . . . FanFest at Bright House is being discontinued. Each year, the Phillies raised funds for charities in Clearwater through the FanFest. Good news: the fund-raising efforts will continue through auctions during the Grapefruit League season . . . In last month’s ratings, Phillies Insider ranked 17th among the top 50 MLB Pro blogs on MLB.com. Thanks for your support.
(Phillies Insider will be posted daily starting on Monday. Contributing to the blog will be members of the Communications Department. Scott Palmer’s daily video reports from Clearwater will also begin on Monday on phillies.com).
Good news, the equipment truck arrived on time in Clearwater on Sunday and the clubhouse crew is busy organizing the lockers for 59 players that will be in camp. It all starts on Monday with pitchers and catchers.
Meanwhile, ticket sales are booming in both in Philly and Clearwater.
3-game pack plans went on sale today in Philly. “Between our sold-out season ticket base of 28,500, group sales and 6-game pack sales to date, we’ve already sold 3.1 million tickets for the season,” explained John Weber, VP of Sales and Ticket Operations. “Our remaining inventory is limited and we encourage fans to take advantage of these game packs while they last.”
Down in Clearwater, ticket sales have topped 108,000, which is 20,000 ahead of last year’s record pace.
Just think, 10 years ago, the Phillies drew 1,782,045 at the Vet. The spring, the total attendance in Clearwater’s Jack Russell Stadium was 60,019.
Special Alumni Birthdays
Tomorrow, RHP Freddy Schmidt and 2B Ford Mullen.
Schmidt, who pitched for the Phillies in 1947, will turn 95, making him the third oldest Phillie (Alex Pitko is 96 and Nick Strincevich, 96 on March 1).
Mullen, nicknamed “Moon” by a Philadelphia sportswriter in 1944, the only season in which he wore a Phillies uniform. He’ll be 94.
Late last month, Larry Stone of the Seattle Times, wrote a feature on Mullen, who lives in Stanwood, WA, and who is the oldest living major leaguer in that state. He and his wife, Jessie, celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary last November.
Mullen’s salary with the Phillies was $5,000.00. Playing minor league baseball for the Seattle Rainiers, he and Jessie picked up the Seattle newspaper one morning in September 1943 and saw a headline, “Mullen sold to the Phillies.” “We didn’t know anything about it,” he told Larry Stone. He was the Phillies regular second baseman in 1944 and then was drafted following that season. He never played in the majors again.
Thanks to Larry Stone, we were able to come up with an address for Mullen. We hadn’t been able to locate him. Last year, we sent a Phillies jersey to each Alumni 90 or older. Happy to report a Mullen #2 Phillies jersey is due to arrive today as a special Happy Birthday.
It would be kind of difficult to play a baseball game at Citizens Bank Park today. For one, the temperature isn’t conducive to the summer game. Secondly, the beautiful green grass field has a thick white blanket of snow on top of it. And, there’s no video board high above the left field stands. Hot dogs right now are frozen.
Would be kind of hard to steal second base because second base isn’t visable. Also, you would need to use orange baseballs. White ones would disappear.
Relax. Charlie stuck his head out of his Florida home yesterday morning and didn’t see his shadow. So, spring training will start in 11 more days!
A more realistic sign that spring training is right around the corner is the Phillies clubhouse. Each of the 46 lockers is completely empty. Boxes, suit cases, duffle bags and large red trunks are everywhere. Starting early tomorrow morning the clubhouse crew will be moving everything on to a 53-foot trailer that will carry the items to Bright House Field in Clearwater. Sunday is unpacking day in the south.
Here’s a sample:
**15 cases of gum (regular and sugarless)
**12 cases of sunflower seeds
**20 coolers and a half pallet of POWERade mix
**250 batting practice tops
**350 pair of shorts
**450 pair of socks
**600 pair of pants
**10,000 12 oz. cups
**150 pairs of batting gloves
Notice, there are no pinstriped uniform jerseys. During spring training, the Phillies will wear their red BP tops. Oh, several pinstripe jerseys will be available for the Communications Department and their annual media/licensing photo day. Players will don the white jerseys for the cameras.
Soon the sound of snow shovels will be replaced by the crack of the bat. How comforting.
At 32 years of age, Jimmy Rollins is the dean of the Phillies. Or, Granddaddy, if you will. Yep, he’s been around longer than anyone else on the team. In 2011, he’s headed for his 11th consecutive full season.
Only Larry Bowa has patrolled shortstop longer for the Phillies, 12 seasons, 1970-81.
Not surprisingly, J-Roll is putting his mark on Phillies all-time records, 12 different categories, to be specific:
Games: 10th (1,494)
At-Bats: 6th (6,291)
Runs: 4th (993)
Hits: 6th (1,714)
Singles: 8th (1,096)
Doubles: 3rd (366)
Triples: 4th (98)
Total bases: 6th (2,738)
Extra-base hits: 5th (618)
Strikeouts: 10th (797)
Stolen bases: 4th (343)
When his Phillies days are over, he’ll be ranked higher in each category. Needless to say, he will be a future inductee into the Phillies Wall of Fame.