A large meeting room on the second floor of the Paul Owens Training Facility at Carpenter Complex was empty yesterday. Today it isn’t. Ruben and Ryne plus all the coaches and instructors, athletic trainers, baseball administration officials and president Pat Gillick have filled the room. They’re reviewing every player that is in camp, 40-man roster and the non-roster players. That’ll continue into tomorrow before the annual Bill Giles golf tourney in the afternoon.
Pitchers and catchers are due in camp tomorrow. They’ll undergo physical examinations and then hit the Carpenter Complex four fields Thursday. Daily works begin at 10 a.m. and are open to the public free of charge. Infielders and outfielders get their exams on Monday and begin drills on Tuesday.
Ryne Sandberg will hold a session with the media tomorrow; Cliff Lee, Thursday.
ICYMI: Minor league contracts signed over the weekend: RHP Joe Blanton (Royals), RHP B.J. Rosenberg (Dodgers) and C Lou Marson (Reds).
Phillies scouts have now begun looking over amateur players. This past weekend, four college teams played doubleheaders at Bright House Field, USF, Cal State Fullerton, Alabama St. and Louisville.
In the first-year player draft this June, the Phillies will have the 10th selection in the first round.
Wednesday: RHP Tyler Green (45), LHP Kyle Abbott (47), RHP Rocky Childress (53) . . .
Thursday: RHP Dave Stewart (58) . . . Saturday: OF Ted Savage (78) . . . Sunday: OF Joe Lefebvre (59), OF Mike Rogodzinski (67) . . . Monday: RHP Jason Boyd (42), OF John Morris (54).
Larry Bowa played in the last game at Connie Mack Stadium, got the first hit in the first game at Veterans Stadium, managed the Phillies in the last game at the Vet and the first game at Citizens Bank Park. Last ejection at the Vet and Jack Russell Memorial Stadium? Bowa.
The equipment truck that left Citizens Bank Park on Friday morning for Bright House Field arrived Sunday morning in bright, sunny Clearwater.
Led by Frank Coppenbarger (Director, Team Travel & Clubhouse Services), Phil Sheridan (Manager, Home Clubhouse), Danny O’Rourke (Manager, Equipment & Umpire Services), Kevin Steinhour (Manager, Visiting Clubhouse) and 25 other pair of hands, the job of unloading the truck began at 8. Within an hour, everything was off the truck and in the Phillies clubhouse or equipment storage room. According to Frank, that was a record time. “Of course, we had 30 people working,” he mused.
By 1 p.m., the empty lockers were filled with uniforms, shoes, gloves, undergarments, jackets, caps, socks. Name plates are in position above each locker.
The empty equipment storage room is now packed. Among the stacks you’ll find:
2,400 baseballs. Soon they come out a dozen at a time. What do baseballs face? being beat up by bats, grass stains, dirt stains, endless rubbing by pitchers, landing in the hands of lucky fans in the seats and bad calls by umpires. Beyond right field is a pond, where creatures called alligators have been known to live. Do alligators get indigestion from dining on baseballs? If Howard really gets a hold of one and wind is blowing toward right, a ball could land on Route 19, setting off who knows what. Some baseballs will be autographed by players and become a keepsake. It’s all part of the life of a baseball.
The 1,200 bats are stored here. Regulars have a larger stock than the non-regulars.Some bats will produce hits and runs. Some, outs. Some will completely miss hitting a ball. And, some will break.
Need a cap? What size? You’ll notice “BP” on boxes. They are the ones the players will wear for workouts and spring games. Caps can get dirty and sweaty. Pitchers often will adjust them while on the mound, off and on, off and on. Don’t caps fit right? Are pitchers a creature of routines? Afraid to throw the ball? Adjusting the cap to calm their anger after the umpire missed a pitch? All of the above?
According the calendar, winter is still. Baseball is about to begin, a comforting sign that spring is coming.
For 1,187 games, Jimmy Rollins was at shortstop for the Phillies and Chase Utley was stationed on the other side of second base. No other SS-2B combo ever played that many games together. Two kids from California became household names in Philadelphia.
They were part of the core that brought five straight Division titles, two pennants, back-to-back World Series appearances and one World Championship. It goes down as the greatest run in Phillies history.
Dismantling of the core began with the trade of Rollins to the Dodgers. Rollins was the longest-tenured player in baseball, 14-plus seasons in pinstripes. With his departure, Utley assumes that position, parts of 12 seasons.
The torch for most games with another teammate has been passed on to Ryan Howard and Chase. They’ve started 1,078 games on the right side of the diamond. No one else can currently match that.
Howard, Utley and Rollins started 910 regular season games together, the most in baseball history. The previous record (886 G) was held by the Dodgers’ Steve Garvey (1B), Davey Lopes (2B) and Bill Russell (SS).
Position players work out first time in Clearwater on February 24. It is well documented, the Phillies continue to look to move more veterans as they rebuild, retool, restructure….whatever you want to call it. Perhaps Chase and Ryan will no longer be side-by-side when the season starts. Perhaps they will be.
Stan Musial was a Cardinal, Ernie Banks a Cub, Mickey Mantle and Joe DiMaggio, Yankees. More recently, Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera played their entire careers with the Yankees.
With free agency, the odds of players staying with one team their entire careers is diminishing.
In the history of the Phillies there are four players with double-digit years of not wearing any other uniform: 3B Mike Schmidt, 18; RHP Larry Christenson, 11; INF Terry Harmon and RHP Bob Miller, 10 each. Jimmy, Chase and Ryan were in the mix. Now only Chase and Ryan have a chance.
Sunday morning the equipment truck arrives at Bright House Field. The process of unloading the truck begins early that day. The empty lockers will no longer be empty. President Pat Gillick checked in on Saturday and Dallas Green arrives in Clearwater tonight.
Pitchers and catchers will undergo physicals on Wednesday, February 17 and work out the next day at Carpenter Complex. Full squad’s first workout is February 24.
Approximately a dozen players that will be in the big league camp are working out on their own. Cody Asche is one and he’s working in the outfield with instructors Rob Ducey and Andy Abad. Idea is to see if he has the flexibility to play another position.
Jake Diekman: “Let the drive begin. Spring training bound. Baseball is back!”
On The Air
It won’t be long until you hear the radio-TV voices of the Phillies once again. The first spring training game is March 3, the Yankees at Bright House Field. It will be televised by Comcast Sportsnet and aired on CBS Radio in Philly.
CSN will televise six games with The Comcast Network carrying 12 more. MLB.com will carry seven and CBS radio will broadcast 14 games. Two road games will be on ESPN TV.
Paul Hagen’s penned another “Where Are They Now” posted on http://www.phillies.com/alumni. Featured this time is Chris Coste, a fan favorite. Be sure to check it out.
Today: INF Kevin Sefcik (44), OF Lenny Dykstra (52), LHP Larry McWilliams (61) . . .
Wednesday: OF Ollie Brown (71) . . . Thursday: OF Ruben Amaro Jr. (50), RHP Dennis Springer (50) . . . Friday: SS Kevin Stocker (45), LHP Mike Mimbs (46) . . . Saturday: INF Larry Milbourne (64), RHP Bob Terlecki (70) . . . Sunday: RHP Ugueth Urbina (41), RHP Barry Jones (52) . . . Monday: C Barry Foote (63),\.
Steve Carlton posted a 241-161 record while pitching for the Phillies. 57.3% of his wins came at Veterans Stadium (138-62). He also owns the best single-season record (17-3).
Always enjoyed spring training even though you worked seven days a week for six-seven weeks. It didn’t seem like work. The players weren’t grumpy, the managers weren’t grumpy and the media wasn’t probing.
Obviously, a lot has changed since my first spring in 1964.
Everybody stayed at the Fort Harrison Hotel in downtown Clearwater: all players, the manager, coaches, writers, broadcasters and club officials.
There is no hotel headquarter. Everyone rents condos on the beach.
The General Manager, Director of Minor Leagues, traveling secretary and myself were the only executives to spend the entire time in Clearwater.
Nearly 20 persons are there fulltime with another 10-12 having periodic work assignments.
There were no offices at Jack Russell Stadium. We worked out of our hotel rooms. Oh, the manager had an office at the park, a small, cement block room with no heat or air conditioning.
The front office staff occupies the entire third floor at Bright House Field. The space is vacant the rest of the time as the Clearwater Threshers offices occupy the second level. Truly a first-class facility.
When we had a home game, a ticket window was open at Jack Russell Stadium. Tickets weren’t sold in advance. Matter of fact, we carried tickets with us and gave them to anyone who wanted one. Total attendance in 1964 was 17,418.
Big business. Tickets are in demand at Bright House Field where sell-outs are frequent. Ever since Bright House Field opened in 2004, spring attendance tops 100,000.
Players spent spring training getting in shape. Salaries weren’t as astronomical and players spent the winter working on some sort of a job.
Players come to camp in shape because they work out all winter. Many come to Clearwater early. Facilities at Carpenter Field complex are available to any player, majors or minors, year round.
Daily workouts at Jack Russell Stadium began at 10 a.m. and ended around 5. With only one diamond, it took a long time for hitters and pitchers to get in their work. Oh, there was a second field about a block away. Rookies spent time there. Weight room? None. Instead, waiting to take showers in the small shower room.
Between facilities at Bright House Field (game field, half-field and indoor batting cage) and four diamonds, a large indoor facility with pitching mounds and batting cages next door at Carpenter Field, a lot of players can get in a lot of work in a short period of time. Weight rooms are also available in both places.
Social media meant wining and dining writers and broadcasters. Still carrying those extra pounds.
Social media is where the world lives: twitter, instragram, facebook, tumblr, google+, pinterest.
Daily chore included cleaning the bird dirt from the Press Box table top. Birds nested in the steel beams overhead in the open press box.
Press box is heated and air conditioned. Birds not allowed.
We’ve come a long way.
Sixteen games will be played in Clearwater this spring. There’s also a March 1 game against the University of Tampa.
C Cameron Rupp; “Today’s the day!! Off to Clearwater! Its baseball season…..Texas I’ll miss you, it’s been real. Florida is home for a couple months!”
ICYMI: Ruben and Ryne yesterday announced eight Alumni will spend time in camp as instructors: Larry Andersen, Roy Halladay, Dave Hollins, Greg Luzinski, Charlie Manuel, Dan Plesac, Aaron Rowand and Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt. It is the first time for Plesac and Rowand.
Voting for the 2015 Phillies Toyota Wall of Fame ends at 5 p.m. this Friday. Vote as often as you wish.
Today: RHP Freddie Toliver (54), LHP Mike Wallace (64), OF Bake McBride (66) . . .
Wednesday: C Chris Coste (42), LHP Dan Plesac (53) . . . Thursday: GM Lee Thomas (79) . . . Sunday: 1B Costen Shockley (73) . . . Monday: C Todd Pratt (48), 1B John Kruk (54), RHP Jim Nash (70).
What do Tom Barry, Anderson Garcia, Al Verbal and Bill Webb have in common?
They were among 14 pitchers with a very limited cup of coffee with the Phillies. How limited? Check out http://www.phillies.com.
Richie Ashburn was an All-Star centerfielder who played left field in the first major league game he ever saw on opening day 1948; ended his career with the Mets in 1962 and played second base in his final game. His first hit came in his first game, off Johnny Sain; his 2,000th hit came off Carlton Willey; his Phillies record hit (#2,111) came off Bob Buhl and his last hit as Phillie also came off Buhl. All three pitched for the Braves. His very last hit in the majors came in his last at-bat. The pitcher? Buhl, then with the Cubs. Each hit was a single.
GM John Quinn once told Ashburn he hits too many singles. Ashburn bristled: “If I hit them any harder, they’d be outs.”
Larry Andersen is a five-tool talent: big-league relief pitcher, member of two Phillies pennant winners, one-time minor league coach, currently a Phillies broadcaster and master of shallow thoughts.
Looking at this image from spring training 22 years ago in Clearwater’s Jack Russell Memorial Stadium one can only wonder what he’s doing:
**auditioning as a juggler for the circus.
**getting a feel which baseball has the right feel.
**occupational therapy homework in an effort to be better coordinated.
**trying to get on the cover of Sports Illustrated.
**showing off for pitching coach Johnny Podres.
Sitting in a bullpen for 17 years in the majors gave “LA” plenty of time for creative thinking. Here are his latest shallow thoughts.
What is the speed of dark?
Why does sour cream have an expiration date?
If it’s a penny for your thoughts, why does everyone put their two cents in?
If the plural of tooth is teeth, is the plural of booth, beeth?
What would chairs look like if our knees bent the other way?
Why is chili hot?
If a cab drives in reverse, shouldn’t I get money back?
If a visiting player hits it, why is it still called a HOME run?
If I go 1 for 1 I’m batting 1.000, so if I go 2 for 2 am I batting 2.000?
If a guy is a good fastball hitter, should I throw him a bad fastball?
Continuing the theme of being different, came across the following quotes:
“Hitting is timing. Pitching is upsetting timing,” Warren Spahn.
“Baseball is a drama with an endless run and an ever-changing cast,” Joe Garagiola.
“Baseball ain’t like football. You can’t make up no trick plays,” Yogi Berra.
“Good pitching will always stop good hitting and vice-versa,” Casey Stengel.
“The catcher is padded like an armchair,” London Times.
Change At The Top
Since the Carpenter family purchased the Phillies after the 1943 season, there have been five presidents of the ball club.
Yesterday the Phillies announced that President and CEO David Montgomery is returning from a medical leave of absence and assuming a new role as the Chairman, Bill Giles is now Chairman Emeritus, and Pat Gillick will continue his current position as President.
Three other presidents since 1943 were Bob Carpenter, Ruly Carpenter and Giles. That’s amazing stability at the top. Other Philadelphia sports franchises can’t come close.
David’s legacy is a pretty impressive one: five division titles, two World Series appearances, a World Championship and two new ballparks, Citizens Bank Park and Bright House Field.
Everyone in the organization is looking forward to having David around daily.
Fan voting for the Toyota Phillies Wall of Fame began on Friday. Voting ends on February 6, 5 p.m. Vote as often as you like. 12 Phillies legends are on this year’s ballot. Alumni Weekend will take place July 30-August 2: Alumni Luncheon for Seniors on July 30 noon; Wall of Fame induction on Friday, July 31; Toyota Alumni night on August 1 and still to be determined are Sunday’s events, August 2.
Appearing on the ballot for the first time is outfielder Pat Burrell.
Sunday’s Best Tweet
Jayson Stark of ESPN: “Coach K’s 1,000 wins are an amazing achievement for an amazing coach. Think he’s excited to tie Charlie Manuel on the all-time wins list?”
Today: RHP Gavin Floyd (32), LHP Mike Zagurski (32) . . . Wednesday: 1B Bill White (81) . . . Friday: CH Joe Kerrigan (61), 2B Davey Johnson (72) . . . Saturday: RHP Joel Bennett (45) . . . Sunday: RHP Bob Conley (81) . . . Monday: RHP Warren Brusstar (63).
To the family of Ernie Banks and the entire Cubs organization on the death of a true Hall of Famer. RIP “Mr. Cub.” Remember seeing Ernie often during batting practice. He was always cheerful and friendly, even if he didn’t know you. He’d smile and enthusiastically say, “Let’s play two.”
To the family of Ray Rippelmeyer on the passing of a beautiful person, his wife, Glenda. Ray was the Phillies pitching coach, 1970-78.
In respond to a post by Ed, Phillies Alumni Day in Clearwater will take place on Saturday, March 21.
In Case You Are Wondering
Deflated footballs? Baseballs are never deflated.
RF Oscar Gamble got the last hit at Connie Mack Stadium in 1970 and LF Pat Burrell, the final hit at Veterans Stadium in 2003.
Reader Skip (Memory Lane) Clayton pointed out Richie Ashburn’s batting title was omitted from the anniversary moments to be remembered in 2015. He was right.
So, here’s to Whitey’s title 60 years ago.
He finished with a .338 average, easily beating Willie Mays’ .319. Going into the final day of the season (September 25), Ashburn led Mays, .342-.319. The final day was a double-header between the Phillies and Giants at the Polo Grounds. Ashburn went 0-7, Mays 4-8.
Three years later Ashburn won his second title, .350 to Mays’ .346. It’s the last Phillies batting champion.
Check out many more memorable moment anniversaries at http://www.phillies.com/alumni.
Tuesday: LHP Matt Beech (43), RHP Brad Brink (50) . . . Wednesday: RHP Mike Krukow (63) . . . Thursday: INF Ramon Aviles (63) . . . Friday: RHP Brandon Duckworth (39), RHP Frank Sullivan (85) . . . Sunday: 1B Francisco Melendez (51), INF Ted Kazanski (81) . . . Monday: 3B Rick Schu (53), C Bob Uecker (80).
Jim Thome hit 101 home runs for the Phillies and one against them. He hit the last home run at the Vet and his 400th at Citizens Bank Park. His last Phillies homer was the 13th walk-off home run of his career, an MLB record.
Heading for Clearwater so the next post will be January 27. Spring training #52 coming up.
Four days of the Phillies Prospect Program got underway today. New RHP Ben Lively has joined RHP Aaron Nola, SS JP Crawford, CF Roman Quinn, LHP Tim Windle, RHP Zach Eflin, LHP Joely Rodriguez, RHP Severino Gonzalez, RHP Neifi Ogando, and OF Cameron Perkins. Lively actually replaced Hector Neris who is remaining in winter ball, 0 runs, 18 innings over 20 appearances in the Dominican League.
Lively, Windle, Eflin and Rodriguez were all acquired in trades this winter. This week will be their official welcome. By being in the program, they’ll now know some faces when spring training begins next month in Clearwater, easing the anxiety of walking into a new clubhouse. They also get to see Citizens Bank Park and where they hope to have their own locker someday.
Among the guest speakers are Pat Gillick, Ben Davis, Charlie Manuel, Anthony Gargano, Jim Salisbury, Jayson Stark and Dickie Noles. Others who will participate include Joe Jordan, Mike Ondo, Bonnie Clark, Dave Buck, Ruben Amaro Jr., Ryne Sandberg, Frank Coppenbarger, Scott Sheridan and Shawn Fscani.
Tomorrow the group will tour the MLB Network Studio in north Jersey. Friday morning starts with a breakfast gathering of season ticket holders followed by a leadership roundtable discussion involving Larry Andersen, Larry Bowa, Mickey Morandini, Dave Hollins and Darrel Daulton from the 1993 NL champions.
A couple of blogs ago reader Jim Peyton inquired as to which roster Joely has been placed.
Joely has been added to the 40-man winter roster.
Wednesday: RHP Paul Fletcher (48), INF Derrell Thomas (64), INF Ron Clark (72) . . . Thursday: RHP Wayne Gomes (42) . . . Saturday: C Tyler Houston (44), 2B Denny Doyle (72) . . . Sunday: C Mike Lieberthal (43), INF Billy Grabarkewitz (69), CH Chuck Cottier (79) . . . Monday: RHP Amaury Telemaco (41), RHP Jeff Juden (44), CH Brad Mills (58).
During Phillies career, Robin Roberts won 20 games or more six straight seasons starting in 1950 and worked over 300 innings each of those seasons. Even more amazing, he completed 272 of his 472 starts.