Thome New WOF Inductee

PHILADELPHIA - JUNE 14:  Jim Thome #25 of the Philadelphia Phillies watches his 400th career homerun leave the park on a two out, full count pitch from Jose Acevedo of the Cincinnati Reds which tied the score 2-2 in the first inning before rain delayed the game after 2 1/2 innings with the Reds winning 4-3 during MLB action at the Citizens Bank Park on June 14, 2004 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Jim Thome is the 2016 inductee into the Toyota Wall of Fame. Knowing their days at the Vet were numbered and Citizens Bank Park was right around the corner, the Phillies signed Thome, a free agent, to a six-year, $85 million contract on December 6, 2002, signaling the start of a new era in franchise history.

The slugging first baseman hit 101 home runs for the Phillies and led the National League with 47 in 2003, then a club record for a first baseman and one shy of Mike Schmidt’s club record. He hit the last home run at the Vet (2003) and his 400th at Citizens Bank Park (2004). His 100th homer with the Phillies (2012) made him just the fourth player in major league history with at least 100 for three different teams, joining Reggie Jackson, Darrell Evans and Alex Rodriguez. #609 was another historic one in a Phillies uniform, a pinch-hit, walk-off homer (2012).  It was his 13th walk-off homer, a new major league record.  Babe Ruth and Jimmie Foxx shared the previous record.

In recognition of his community involvement, he was given the Marvin Miller Man of the Year Award and the Lou Gehrig Award in 2004 while playing for the Phillies. He was also an NL All-Star that season.

When he becomes eligible, Thome is a sure shot to be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

WOF Voting Process
Fan voting on phillies.com begins the annual process for selecting the Toyota Wall of Fame inductee.  A 12-Alumni ballot for fan voting appears on phillies.com during spring training.  The top five as selected by the fans is presented to a Special Wall of Fame Selection Committee consisting of baseball writers, broadcasters and club executives. That committee selects the inductee. The annual ballot is determined each January by Phillies executives.

Consideration is given to ability, character and contributions to the Phillies and baseball plus special achievements. Players, managers and coaches with four or more years of service are eligible. With rare occasions, all candidates must be retired for three years before they can be eligible for the ballot.

The final five candidates this year were Jim Fregosi, Jim Konstanty, Scott Rolen, Thome and Manny Trillo.

Tonight’s Arms

On Deck game vs. Orioles
Aaron Nola and Brandon Finnegan, who have something in common other than being 22-year-old pitchers, oppose each other tonight in Cincinnati.

Two years ago at this time, they were pitching college ball, Nola at LSU and Finnegan at TCU.  Both were selected in the 2014 draft, Nola as the seventh overall pick and Finnegan, 17th overall by the Royals.

Impressive Debut
LHP Jason Groome, one of the premier high school players in the country, made his 2016 debut on Tuesday afternoon.  Excerpts from the Asbury Park Press online story:

“Barnegat coach Dan McCoy was on his way to the mound to take Jason Groome out after 59 pitches with no outs in the top of the fifth inning. For the baseball universe beyond the Shore Conference, the rest was immaterial.

“They’d seen enough, with Groome, considered by many to be the No. 1 prospect in the nation heading into June’s MLB Draft, struck out 10 and got two pop-up outs in four-plus innings, allowing no runs and one hit in his first start of the season.

“His fastball averaged between 92 and 94 mph on a frigid day, while his wicked curveball was consistently between 75 to 77 mph.

“In all, there were probably 150 baseball professionals on hand, including Phillies general manager Matt Klentak, director of player development Joe Jordan and director of scouting Johnny Almaraz.”

The Phillies have the first overall selection in the June draft.

Merchandise Gem

00PhilaNova
Starting today a Phillies/Villanova cap will be on sale exclusively in the Majestic Clubhouse Store in Citizens Bank Park.

The Phillies and ARAMARK had several dozen caps on hand Saturday afternoon during the Futures Game and sold out.  More were ordered.

On The Tube
While I’m infamously known as a person with a face for radio, I’ll be making two TV appearances soon promoting my new book, The Fightin’ Phillies: 100 Years of Philadelphia Baseball from the Whiz Kids to the Misfits:

**This Friday, 7:35 a.m., “Breakfast On Broad” on The Comcast Network. @BOBOONTCH.

**Monday, April 11, 11:20 a.m., “NBC 10 News Today.”

8th-Inning Bummer

00hellickson

New season, new players, new gray uniforms and shiny new red batting helmets were all there for the Phillies who opened the season in Cincinnati on Monday.

Unfortunately, the result was so similar to last year, low production from the offense and implosion by the bullpen in the eighth inning. Leading 2-1 after 7, the fateful eighth featured 3 relievers, 5 runs, 3 hits, 3 walks, a hit batter and an error.  A year ago in the eighth, the Phillies allowed 73 runs and 66 walks.

Hellickson, making his first ever opening day start, was outstanding, 1 unearned run on 3 hits in 6 innings; threw 79 pitches. He struck out 6 including Votto 3 times. His 2-1 lead came on Galvis’ 2-run homer in the second inning. Phillies hits after the fifth inning: 0.

Well, Phillies weren’t going to go undefeated nor will they go winless.  Game 2 is Wednesday night, a game carried on ESPN2.

Happy Birthday
President Andy MacPhail, 63 today.

Opening Day Phun Fact

Sherwood Robert Magee Positions: Leftfielder and First Baseman Bats: Right, Throws: Right Height: 5' 11", Weight: 179 lb. Born: August 6, 1884 in Clarendon, PA Signed by the Philadelphia Phillies as an amateur free agent in 1904. (All Transactions) Debut: June 29, 1904 (Age 19.328, 2,637th in MLB history) Rookie Status: Exceeded rookie limits during 1904 season  Teams (by GP): Phillies/Braves/Reds 1904-1919 Last Game: September 27, 1919 (Age 35.052)   vs. CHC 4 AB, 0 H, 0 HR, 0 SB Died: March 13, 1929 in Philadelphia, PA (Aged 44.219) Buried: Arlington Cemetery, Drexel Hill, PA
CF Sherry Magee (1914) (above) and SS Don Money (1969) are the only Phillies to hit two home runs on opening day.

Minor League Report
**Lehigh Valley IronPigs open their season on Thursday in Syracuse. First seven games are in New York, Syracuse (4) and Rochester (3) . . . http://www.ironpigsbaseball.com for roster and schedule.

**Reading Fightin’ Phils open at home vs. Portland, also on Thursday. First eight games are at home . . . http://www.fightins.com for roster and schedule.

**Clearwater Threshers travel three miles to Dunedin, also on Thursday. Home opener is Friday against Dunedin . . . http://www.threshersbaseball.com for roster and schedule.

**Lakewood BlueClaws start their season Thursday in Lexington, the first of eight road games (Hagerstown) . . . http://www.blueclaws.com for roster and schedule.

Special Season
Reading is celebrating its 50th year as a Phillies minor league affiliation.  It is the longest affiliation currently in all of Minor League Baseball.

This Date
April 5, 2010
3B Placido Polanco drives in 6 runs in 11-1 romp in Washington.  RHP Roy Halladay wins Phillies debut. Polanco’s RBI are the most for a Phillies player since CF Sherry Magee drove in 6 in 1914.

April 5, 2012
Phillies beat the Pirates, 1-0, in Pittsburgh.  Roy Halladay tosses eight, two-hit innings as the starter. It is the third 1-0 opening day win in franchise history.

Book Signings
I’ll be signing my new book,The Fightin’ Phillies: 100 Years of Philadelphia Baseball from the Whiz Kids to the Misfits, on the following dates:

**April 23, AB Sports, Concord Mall, 4737 Concord Pike, Wilmington, DE 19803; 1-3 p.m. (www.absports.com).
**April 30, Main Point Books, 1041 West Lancaster Ave., Bryn Mawr, PA 19010; 1-2 p.m.
**May 22, Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia, PA; 12:30 p.m.-1:30 p.m.
**May 26, Maris Grove Theatre, 200 Maris Grove Way, Glen Mills, PA, 19342; 2-3 p.m.
**August 14, Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia, PA; 12:30 p.m.-1:30 p.m.

No Classes Today
Yep, that’s the story at Villanova today following Monday night’s classic NCAA Championship win. The buzzer-beating thriller capped three straight wins over basketball powers Kansas, Oklahoma and North Carolina. That’s really impressive.

As Charlie Manuel once said, “To be the best you’ve got to beat the best.”

Congratulations to the Wildcats!

Play Ball!

Sixty-six Phillies players began spring training in Clearwater in February.  Today in Cincinnati, 25 begin the season.  Five weren’t on the opening day roster a year ago and 11 are totally new to the organization.   “Scorecard! Scorecard! Hey, get your scorecard here!”

A total of 1,979 players have worn the Phillies uniform since 1883, alphabetically from 2B-3B Ed Abbaticcio (1897-1898) to 1B Jon Zuber (1996; 1998). That number will change quite often during the early stages of the season. Chances are there will be more new faces during the season meaning the Phillies all-time roster could reach 2,000.

Last Cincy Opener
Phillies lost, 7-4, in their last season opener in Cincinnati, April 7, 1986.  Reds played in Riverfront Stadium then. Mike Schmidt homered.  33-year-old Larry Andersen pitched one scoreless inning.  His current sidekick in the booth, Scott Franzke, was 14 years old and living in Dallas, TX.

Great American Ball Park
Phillies are 23-21 in the Cincinnati ballpark that opened in 2003 but have lost their last five games. Howard has 11 career homers and 21 RBI in 134 at-bats there. Stolen bases: 0.

Revolving RF
The Phillies have had 7 different right fielders in their last 7 opening day lineups. Starting in 2010: Jayson Werth, Ben Francisco, Hunter Pence, John Mayberry Jr., Marlon Byrd, Grady Sizemore and Peter Bourjos..

Moving On Up

Ryan James Howard (Big Piece) (twitter: @ryanhoward) Position: First Baseman Bats: Left, Throws: Left Height: 6' 4", Weight: 250 lb. Born: November 19, 1979 in St. Louis, MO (Age 36.015) High School: Lafayette HS (Wildwood, MO) School: Missouri State University (Springfield, MO) Drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 5th round of the 2001 amateur draft. Signed July 2, 2001. (All Transactions) Debut: September 1, 2004 (Age 24.287, 16,162nd in MLB history)   vs. ATL 1 AB, 0 H, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 0 SB Rookie Status: Exceeded rookie limits during 2005 season [*] Team: Phillies 2004-2015 2016 Contract Status: Signed thru 2016, 5 yrs/$125M (12-16) & 17 team option (details) [*] Service Time (01/2016): 10.145, Free Agent: 2017 [*], Agents: CAA Sports (Greg Landry Jennifer Brasile, Casey Close), previously: Jim Turner, Larry Reynolds [*]     About biographical information
Ryan Howard adds another honor to his lengthy list with his 10th opening day start.  He passed Fred Luderus for the most at first base in Phillies history. Ryan’s first was 2006.  He missed the 2012 opener following left Achilles surgery.  Who started in his place? Ty Wigginton.

The Phillies opening day leaders:
C   Mike Lieberthal (10)
1B   Ryan Howard (10)
2B Chase Utley (8)
SS Jimmy Rollins (14)
3B Mike Schmidt (16)
LF Greg Luzinski (9)
CF Richie Ashburn (10)
RF Johnny Callison (9)
P Steve Carlton (14)
Source: baseball-reference.com

Baseball’s all-time leader is Willie Mays, 21 years.

Most Homers

Michael Jack Schmidt (born September 27, 1949) is a Hall of Fame third baseman, widely considered as one of the greatest at the position in the history of Major League Baseball.[1][2][3] He played his entire career for the Philadelphia Phillies. Schmidt had an unusual batting stance, turning his back somewhat to the pitcher and shaking his rear end while waiting for the pitch. By standing far back in the batter's box, he made it impossible to jam him by pitching inside. Schmidt was one of the best athletes of his time; teammate Pete Rose once said, "To have his body, I'd trade him mine and my wife's, and I'd throw in some cash."[4] Contents     1 Early days     2 Philadelphia Phillies         2.1 National League MVP         2.2 Retirement     3 Career stats     4 Post playing career         4.1 Coaching         4.2 Philanthropy     5 See also     6 Further reading     7 References     8 External links Early days Upon graduation from Fairview High School in Dayton, Ohio in 1967, Schmidt attended Ohio University in Athens, where he joined Beta Theta Pi Fraternity.[5] Schmidt led the Ohio Bobcats baseball team to the College World Series in 1970,[6] and was drafted by the Phillies in the second round of the 1971 Major League Baseball Draft with the 30th overall pick. On June 11, 1971, he was signed by scout Tony Lucadello, who had followed him since Little League Baseball.[7] Six days later, Schmidt made his professional debut in an exhibition game between the Phillies and the Reading Phillies in Reading. Schmidt played the whole game at shortstop for the Phillies and hit a game-winning home run against Reading.[8] Along with shortstop and third base, Schmidt also played some second base in the minors. Schmidt spent two seasons in the Phillies' farm system, where he batted .263 with 34 home runs and 122 runs batted in. He received a September call-up to the Phillies in 1972, and made his major league debut against the New York Mets on September 12.[9] Four days later, Schmidt ended Montreal Expos pitcher Balor Moore's streak of 25 scoreless innings pitched with his first career home run.[10] Philadelphia Phillies Following the 1972 season, the Phillies dealt third baseman Don Money to the Milwaukee Brewers to open a spot for Schmidt on their infield. While Schmidt batted only .196 with 136 strikeouts his first full season, he demonstrated his power potential with 18 home runs. Schmidt's batting average climbed to .282 in the next year, 1974, and he won the first of his twelve All-Star nods.[11] On June 10, Schmidt hit a ball into a public address speaker suspended 117 feet above and 329 feet away from home plate in the Astrodome in Houston, Texas. The ball then fell to the field, and by the Astrodome's ground rules, it remained in play. Schmidt was held to a single, and the runners on first and second each advanced just one base. It is believed that had it not hit the speaker, the ball would have carried beyond 500 feet.[12] For the season, Schmidt finished sixth in National League Most Valuable Player balloting as he batted .282 with 116 RBIs and a league leading 36 home runs to help the Phillies avoid a last place finish in the National League East for the first time since 1970. His 404 assists in 1974 remain a record for third basemen. He also filled in at shortstop and first base. Schmidt's batting average hovered below .200 through the month of May 1975. Solid months of July and August saw his average rise to .249 by the end of the season as he led the league in home runs for the second year in a row with 38. Schmidt started the 1976 season off by hitting twelve home runs in Philadelphia's first fifteen games, including four in one game on April 17,[13] a feat accomplished only 16 times in the history of baseball. For the season, Schmidt drove in 107 runs, and led the league in home runs for the third year in a row (38), and won his first of ten Gold Gloves to lead the Phillies to their first division crown since division play started in 1969. The Phillies captured the NL east crown three years in a row, however, they were swept by Cincinnati's "Big Red Machine" in 1976, and lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1977 and 1978. On December 5, 1978, the Phillies signed Pete Rose as a free agent, temporarily making Rose the highest-paid athlete in team sports when they signed him to a four-year, $3.2-million contract. With Rose on board, the Phillies were early favorites to repeat as division winners in 1979. Instead, the Phillies finished the season at 84-78, and in fourth place in NL East. For his part, Schmidt broke the club record for home runs in a season with 45, eclipsing Chuck Klein's 43 hit in 1929. National League MVP On October 3, 1980, the Phillies went into Montreal tied with the Expos for first place in the NL East. With a sacrifice fly in the first, and a solo home run in the sixth, Schmidt led the Phillies to a 2-1 victory to capture first place.[14] A day later, Schmidt hit his 48th home run of the season in the 11th inning to give the Phillies the 6-4 extra innings victory over the Expos, and clinch the division.[15] His 48 home runs broke his own team record, and led the National League by a margin of thirteen over his nearest competitor (His home run mark would stand for 26 years until first baseman and 2006 National League MVP Ryan Howard hit 58 in 2006). Coupled with a league leading 121 RBIs, Schmidt was a unanimous choice for the National League's Most Valuable Player Award. The Phillies defeated the Houston Astros in the 1980 National League Championship Series[16] to reach the World Series for the third time in franchise history. Though Schmidt had just a career .191 post-season batting average with no home runs and five RBIs, his bat came alive in the 1980 World Series, hitting two homers and driving in seven runs against the Kansas City Royals to earn him the World Series MVP Award. Following the World Series, Schmidt and four of his Phillies teammates appeared on Family Feud for one week in 1980. He, Larry Bowa, Garry Maddox, Dick Ruthven and Del Unser took on five members of the Kansas City Royals: Dennis Leonard, Dan Quisenberry, Paul Splittorff, John Wathan and Willie Wilson. Schmidt's best season may have been the strike shortened 1981 season. His 31 home runs were seven more than anyone else in the league. He also led the NL in runs scored, RBIs, total bases and walks, and set personal highs in batting average, on-base average and slugging average. He won his second consecutive MVP award, this time with 96% of the vote. The Phillies led the NL East by 3.5 games when the 1981 Major League Baseball strike hit. As a result, the Phillies were named NL East champions for the first half of the season, however, they lost to the second half champion Montreal Expos in the 1981 National League Division Series. In 1983, in celebration of the team's 100th anniversary, Schmidt was voted by fans the greatest player in the history of the franchise. That year, he led the league in home runs for the sixth time in his career to lead the Phillies back to the post season. Schmidt led his team with a .467 batting average and scored five runs as they defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 1983 National League Championship Series. It was, however, a much different story against the Baltimore Orioles in the 1983 World Series. The Phillies were held to a .195 team batting average; Schmidt went just 1-for-20 with a single. Following the 1983 season, the Phillies dealt Pete Rose to the Montreal Expos. Tim Corcoran and Len Matuszek platooned at first in 1984, however, neither provided to the offensive spark Rose did. In 1985, Schmidt was moved to first base from late May through the end of the season with Rick Schu assuming third base duties. The Phillies finished with a record below .500 for the first time since 1974. In 1986, the Phillies moved outfielder Von Hayes to first base and shifted Schmidt back to his natural position. He responded by winning his third MVP award, a record for third basemen,[17] with a league leading 37 home runs and 119 RBIs. Retirement Schmidt homers against the Reds on July 20, 1987, at the Vet Trailing the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-5 at Three Rivers Stadium on April 18, 1987, Schmidt hit his career 500th home run, a three run shot off of Don Robinson to win the game, 8-6.[18] Injuries to Schmidt's rotator cuff caused him to miss the last month and a half of the 1988 season. He returned healthy for the 1989 season, however, after a poor start, Schmidt suddenly chose to announce his retirement in San Diego, on May 29. Although he typically demonstrated little emotion on the field (and was known as "Captain Cool" by many in Philadelphia sports circles), Schmidt surprised many with an emotional, and occasionally tearful, retirement speech. His last game was May 28, 1989, against the San Francisco Giants.[19] Despite his poor start and subsequent retirement, fans again voted Schmidt to the NL All-Star team. He decided not to play, but he did participate in the game's opening ceremony.[20] Career stats Games 	PA 	AB 	Runs 	Hits 	2B 	3B 	HR 	RBI 	SB 	BB 	SO 	Avg. 	Slg. 	OBP 	OPS 	Fld% 2404 	10062 	8352 	1506 	2234 	408 	59 	548 	1595 	174 	1507 	1883 	.267 	.527 	.380 	.908 	.961 Over his career Schmidt set a vast array of hitting and fielding records. In addition to his MVP Awards, Schmidt won ten Gold Gloves, led the league in home runs eight times, in RBIs four times, OPS five times, and walks four times. He was named to twelve All-Star teams. He is the Phillies all-time leader in games played, at-bats, plate appearances, runs scored, hits, home runs, RBI, walks, strikeouts, total bases, runs created, sacrifice flies, outs, Adj. Batting Runs, Adj. Batting Wins, Extra Base Hits, Times On Base, and Power-Speed number. Schmidt's 548 home runs are the most ever hit by a player who spent his entire career with just one team. Post playing career PhilsSchmidt.PNG Mike Schmidt's number 20 was retired by the Philadelphia Phillies in 1990. Schmidt opted, at first, to pursue a more private lifestyle after his career, rather than to become a manager or coach. He has written a number of articles on baseball for CBS and regularly participates in charity golf tournaments. He spent one season as a member of the Phillies broadcast team on the now-defunct PRISM network. He was known as a very candid and honest broadcaster despite his limited experience in the area. In 1991, he and Nolan Ryan were inducted into the Peter J. McGovern Little League Museum's Hall of Excellence (established in 1988), thereby becoming only the second and third MLB players inducted into the Hall. In 1995, Schmidt was elected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum with what was then the fourth highest percentage ever, 96.52%.[21] (Nolan Ryan and George Brett surpassed his percentage in 1999). In 1999, he ranked number 28 on The Sporting News's list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players,[22] the highest-ranking third baseman, and the highest-ranking player whose career began after 1967. Later that year, he was elected to the Major League Baseball All-Century Team. His uniform number 20 has been retired by the Phillies, and he has been honored with a statue outside the third-base gate at the team's home, Citizens Bank Park. Schmidt has publicly expressed his thoughts on various baseball controversies. He has been a vocal advocate for the reinstatement of Pete Rose to baseball. In July 2005, he appeared on Bob Costas' HBO show Costas Now to discuss steroids, and said, "Let me go out on a limb and say that if I had played during that era I would have taken steroids... We all have these things we deal with in life, and I'm surely not going to sit here and say to you guys, 'I wouldn't have done that.'" In his 2006 book, Clearing the Bases: Juiced Players, Monster Salaries, Sham Records, and a Hall of Famer's Search for the Soul of Baseball, he somewhat recanted that statement, saying that he understood the desire to get a competitive advantage even though he could not condone breaking the rules to do so. Coaching In 2002, Schmidt was hired by the Phillies to work for several weeks as a hitting coach each Spring training. In October 2003, Schmidt was named the manager of the Phillies' Single A Florida State League affiliate, the Clearwater Threshers. He managed them for just the 2004 season, then resigned. In 2009, he served as third base coach for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic. Philanthropy In 2001, Schmidt began sponsoring an annual fishing tournament known as the Mike Schmidt Winner's Circle Invitational at Old Bahama Bay in West End, Grand Bahama Island. The first event raised $27,000, and has since raised over $1.5 million for cystic fibrosis.[23] In 2008, Schmidt released a charity wine called Mike Schmidt 548 Zinfandel, a reference to his 548 career home runs, with proceeds also going to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.[24]
Schmidt hit five of his 548 home runs on opening day.  Tied for second with three each, Scott Rolen and Jimmy Rollins.

This Date
April 4, 2005: Charlie Manuel makes Phillies managerial debut in an 8-4 win at Citizens Bank Park, the first game for the Washington Nationals, formerly the Montreal Expos.

Opening Day Phun Fact

00Short
LHP Chris Short has the most opening day shutouts in Phillies history, three: the first N. L. game in Houston’s Astrodome (1965), at Dodger Stadium (1968) and the final Connie Mack Stadium season opener (1970).  All three were 2-0.
Book signings
The Fightin’ Phillies: 100 Years of Philadelphia Baseball from the Whiz Kids to the Misfits is the title of my new book published by Triumph Books.  Larry Andersen wrote a hilarious foreword. I’ll be signing:

**April 23, AB Sports, Concord Mall, 4737 Concord Pike, Wilmington, DE 19803; 1-3 p.m. (www.absports.com).
**April 30, Main Point Books, 1041 West Lancaster Ave., Bryn Mawr; 1-2 p.m.
**May 22, Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia; 12:30 p.m.-1:30 p.m.
**May 26, Maris Grove Theatre, 200 Maris Grove Way, Glen Mills, PA, 19342; 2-3 p.m.
**August 14, Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia; 12:30 p.m.-1:30 p.m.

Twitter Time
I’ve now ventured into the world of twitter: @ShenkLarry.

Spring Training Is Over

00 CBP

Citizens Bank Park is ready for season number 13.  Hard to believe.  Seems like just yesterday we opened the state of the art ballpark.

00 clubhouse

Yesterday morning the Phillies clubhouse was empty.  That changed when the team returned last night.

Phillies final 25-man roster is due no later than 3 p.m. Sunday, the day before the Phillies open the season in Cincinnati. The two teams have met five previous times in Cincinnati in the season opener with the Reds leading, 3-2.

Change has been the theme since last season ended.  It is evident in last year’s opening day lineup:
Revere, LF
Herrera, CF
Utley, 2b
Howard, 1B
Ruiz, c
Sizemore, RF
Asche, 3b
Galvis, SS

Change is also evident in the bullpen where Jeanmar Gomez is the lone returning reliever.  It is evident in the starting rotation.  The Phillies starting pitchers in their first four games last year were Cole Hamels, Aaron Harang, David Buchanan and Jerome Williams. It is evident on the field where Pete had them playing better fundamental ball.

They finished Florida with a 15-10-3 record, their first winning spring since 21-14 in 2111.  Granted spring training stats are out the window now but there was energy, enthusiasm and competition on the club.  That’s change, too.

Wheels’ Clearwater Report
Wrapping up another spring training in Clearwater…….

We all know how entertaining the Phanatic can be.  His best spring training performance was a pre-game fitness challenge in right field with Bautista of the Blue Jays. Got a ton of video play.  You know, I’ve been watching the Phanatic since he arrived and he still makes me laugh. Every game.

Squeeze bunt plays in spring training?  Don’t remember many but Pete did it four times this spring.

Best power display was Franco although Howard’s grand slam over the batter’s eye was something to see.  I remember seeing home runs over the batter’s eye at Jack Russell Stadium but not Bright House Field.

The best arms were Velasquez among pitchers and Alfaro among position players.

Quinn was the fastest player. He can fly. He just needs to have a healthy full season and 450 at-bats.

Now that Bowa has reached 70, people wonder if he has matured.  Well…..sort of. We’ll see how he handles the regular season.

Favorite restaurant? There are a ton of them in Clearwater and the area but my favorite remains Villa Gallace in Indian Rocks Beach.  Outstanding Italian food.

Packing yesterday for the return trip home was a cruel reminder that spring training #45 for me was about to end.  Arriving in Clearwater every spring is so special.  I get excited every time I drive over the causeway into Clearwater, a place that has become a second home.  You get a chance to spend time with friends again. The grass is greener, the weather warmer and there isn’t a better place to watch a game than Bright House Field. A full house there is such a beautiful sight.

BNF17012

Book Signings
The Fightin’ Phillies: 100 Years of Philadelphia Baseball from the Whiz Kids to the Misfits is the title of my new book published by Triumph Books.  Larry Andersen wrote a hilarious foreword.

I’ll be signing:
**April 30, Main Point Books, 1041 West Lancaster Ave., Bryn Mawr; 1-2 p.m.
**May 22, Citizens Bank Park, 12:30 p.m.-1:30 p.m.
**May 26, Maris Grove Theatre, 200 Maris Grove Way, Glen Mills, PA; 2-3 p.m.
**August 14, Citizens Bank Park, 12:30 p.m.-1:30 p.m.

More dates are forthcoming.

Hear Ye, Hear Ye
Beginning on Monday, Phillies Insider switches to five times per week. There’ll be commentary on the current team, the future and the past.

Guess Who’s #1

00Phanatic ST

Forbes Magazine has selected Phillie Phanatic as baseball’s most popular mascot. Not surprising. This is a repeat honor by the magazine.

Guess what’s the #1 selling item at Citizens Bank Park?  Well, it’s the Phanatic dangle hat.

Going to sneak in a plug for my new book, The Fightin’ Phillies: 100 Years of Philadelphia Baseball from the Whiz Kids to the Misfits.  The last chapter is Behind the Scenes.  Included is a story about the Phanatic. Here’s an excerpt peek:

“Thousands have worn a Phillies uniform in the major leagues.  An equal number have worked behind the scenes throughout the years.  So, who’s the most recognizable member of the Phillies organization?  Got to be Phillie Phanatic.  When you are 6-foot-6, 300 pounds with a 90” waist, white eyeballs, purple eyelashes, blue eyebrows, monster sized-shoes, extra-long beak, extra-long curled up tongue, gawking neck and your fur is bright green, you are easily recognizable. And memorable. And loved.

“The record shows this big, feathery creature from the Galapagos Islands made a rather quiet debut during a Phillies game at Veterans Stadium on April 24, 1978.  His first TV appearance was on the Philadelphia-produced children’s show “Captain Noah and His Magical Ark” along with Phillies player Tim McCarver, who was doing promotional work for the team. Wonder if McCarver includes this historic feat in his resume. Very quickly Phillie Phanatic evolved into the most entertaining mascot in all sports.

“A room behind home plate on the ground level of the Vet was labeled “Phanatic” but what went on behind the door wasn’t known. When Citizens Bank Park opened, sure enough there was another room, “Phanatic Locker Room.” It’s across the hall from the Umpire’s Room.  Phillie Phanatic can be seen popping in and out of this room.  Before the door is closed, that gawking neck peeks out to make sure no one is following.

“We don’t know if Phillie Phanatic watches TV, has an iPod, microwave, cooler, popcorn machine, sleeps standing up, in a bed or hammock. Or, sleeps period. Is there a giant box of Kleenex? We certainly hope a shower is in order. A hot July afternoon makes players sweat profusely.  Perhaps Phillie Phanatic doesn’t sweat although those who get close to him often hold their noses.”

Camp To End

00gloves
Phillies’ 70th spring training in Clearwater comes to an end tomorrow with a 1:05 game against the Houston Astros at Bright House Field.  Team heads to Tampa International Airport after the game for a charter flight back to Philadelphia.

Future’s Game
Thursday night, the first-ever Phillies Future Game featuring the organization’s top prospects against the big league club will take place at Reading’s FirstEnergy Stadium, 6:05 p.m. first pitch.

Another such game is scheduled for Citizens Bank Park at 1:05 on Saturday afternoon, April 2.

For details, check out http://www.phillies.com/futures.

Phil-Ins
Minor league games at Carpenter Complex end on Friday.  The following day, Lehigh Valley, Reading and Lakewood teams head north.  Clearwater players walk from the Complex to Bright House Field. Players not assigned to those four rosters remain at the Complex as part of extended spring training . . . The Orioles will play the Phillies in an On-Deck Game at Citizens Bank Park on Friday night, April 1, 6:05 p.m.

Happy Birthday

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LHP Dick Koecher, who pitched in a total of seven games with the Phillies during the 1946-47-48 seasons, is the latest Phillies Alumnus to turn 90 years of age.  His birthday is tomorrow. He joins seven other Phillies Alumni in the team’s Nonagenarian Club.

He is a graduate of Simon Gratz High School in Philadelphia and attended Temple University.

Opening Day Phun Fact
April 14, 1914: CF Sherry Magee becomes first Phillies player to homer twice on Opening Day in a 10-1 win over the New York Giants at Baker Bowl.

What Is It?

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If a security camera is your guess, you are half right.  It is a camera but it is used in video coaching in the Phillies minor league system.  This one is mounted on the batter’s eye on the Richie Ashburn field at the Carpenter Complex.  All four fields at the complex are equipped with four cameras, of which one is in center field.

This particular camera can also be used to tape infield workouts on the half field at Bright House Field located directly behind the Ashburn field.

Each minor league ballpark in the Phillies system is also equipped with four stationary cameras.  Lehigh Valley and Reading may have more camera angles as AAA and AA will have some games on television.

Video coaching is another tool for minor league managers and coaches to use in instructing and developing players.  The Phillies have roving instructors who visit different teams.  The video is highly beneficial to them.  The system allows the Phillies to build a complete video library of every minor league player.

The video system also allows the Phillies to build a library of minor league players in other organizations. Should the Phillies face a pitcher just brought up from the minors, the hitters can watch video. Before, the Phillies manager would call a minor league manager to see if his team faced this certain pitcher.  A verbal report was the best case scenario.

The Phillies video coaching staff includes Kevin Camiscioli (Manager), Marc Sigismondo (Coordinator), Brett Gross (Representative, Minor League Operations) and a video intern on each minor league club.

Wheels’ Clearwater Report
Interesting to see Pete use the squeeze play.  We don’t have much power right now and have to manufacture runs.  It (squeeze) has to be the right combination…base runner and batter.  It is a weapon that can be used but not over used.

It was great seeing the Alumni here on Sunday.  While it was a smaller group than we have for Alumni Day at Citizens Bank Park, they brought back memories.  When you see them you remember the many good seasons we’ve had.

Hope we get Herrera back in the lineup soon so he can be there on opening day. He’s such a good hitter.  He and Maikel are a pretty good one-two punch. Herrera’s also a good person in the clubhouse and on the bench.  While he’s not been playing, he’s been on the bench, chatting, high-fiving and tossing balls to fans.

While it wasn’t in the box score after Tuesday’s game against the Twins, it should have been, Error-Wheeler.  Doing the PA is pretty non-stop during the game.  There are a lot of announcements between innings and tons of lineup changes.  Craig (Hughner, Coordinator, Baseball Communications) does a great job with all the lineup changes.
Phil Hughes was pitching for Minnesota and I thought he said Ryan Pressly was coming in the game so I announced him.  Craig leaned over, “Hughes is still pitching. James Russell is coming in to pitch for us.” I misunderstood Russell for Pressly.  Later in the game, the Twins did bring in Pressly so I said, “now officially pitching for the Twins, number 57, Ryan Pressley.”  Worst part of making the mistake?  It gave Bowa ammunition to bury me.  I reminded him of box scores with E-Bowa.

Drying Time

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Each uniform is washed at Bright House Field following every game and then hung to dry. Phil Sheridan, Manager, Home Clubhouse, and oversees the washing of the uniforms. One year Phil figured he did over 3,000 loads of laundry counting spring training and the regular season.

Phil-Ins
Minor league games continue at 1 every afternoon through April 1 at the Carpenter Complex. Exception is this Saturday when the games start at 10 in the morning.  The games are followed by a meeting in which the rosters will be discussed.  Releases are always possible.

Lens Gem

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Another gem from Phillies photographer Miles Kennedy.

Opening Day Phun Fact
April 19, 1900: Phillies win at Boston, 19-17, in 10 innings in the highest scoring opener in baseball history. Boston tied the game by scoring nine in the last of the ninth.

Remembering The Past

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Officials from the City of Clearwater and the Phillies dedicated a Florida heritage marker on Saturday morning at the site of where Clearwater Athletic Field once stood.  The ballpark served as the major league spring training camp for the Brooklyn Robins/Dodgers (1923-1932; 1936-41), Cleveland Indians (1942-1946) and Phillies (1947-54). The marker is the first in the state of Florida to honor a spring training site.  Plans are in the works to have a similar dedication for Jack Russell Stadium.

More New Faces?
Matt Klentak has shown he’s not hesitant to bring in new players.  As 29 other spring training camps head for the finish line, players will become available one way or another.  Some will be out of options or may have an opt-out clause in their contract.  Rule 5 players may become available if they cannot stick with a major league club and large contracts may free a player or two.

By finishing last the Phillies have had the first crack at players placed on waivers.  That remains for the first 30 days of the season.

Matt, his assistants along with Mike Ondo, Director of Professional Scouting and his staff of 12 scouts, are having conference calls to review needs of other clubs and players that may become available. Best guess an outfielder is on the top of the Phillies list.

One of those scouts is Del Unser.  To learn about his life as a pro scout, check out a feature on Del at http://www.phillies.com/alumni.

Phil-Ins
ICYMI: Last week’s St. Patrick’s Day crowd was a Bright House Field record, 11,222.  Was on a 5:40 flight that morning to Tampa and the plane was filled with Phillies fans wearing red and green gear . . . Andres Blanco caught in a minor league game last Friday.  He’s being looked at as the emergency catcher . . . Pat Gillick, who began his Hall of Fame career as a scout, is spending a lot of time scouting the top amateur players.  The Phillies have the first overall selection in the June draft . . . Next three games are at night. First two are long bus rides, Kissimmee and Orlando . . . Final five in consensus votes for the Toyota Wall of Fame are Jim Fregosi, Jim Konstanty, Jim Thome, Manny Trillo and Scott Rolen. Those names have been submitted to a 15-member Special Wall of Fame Selection Committee. Winner should be announced soon.

Lens Gem

A fan snaps a photo Saturday in Clearwater.
Courtesy of Phillies photographer Miles Kennedy.

Spring Training Memories
Dickie Noles (RHP, 1979-1981; 1990)
“First spring training was in 1976 and stayed at the Best Western right besides LUMS restaurant now Lenny’s. There was a lot to like about spring training, the beginning of a new year, a time to start getting ready for the season, seeing my teammates, the weather, really the whole atmosphere. What didn’t I like, nothing, really.”

Opening Day Phun Fact
May 1, 1883–The Phillies lose their initial opener, 4-3, to Providence at Recreation Park, 24th and Columbia Avenues, when the Grays score four runs in the eighth to overcome a 3-0 deficit.  Attendance: an estimated 1,200.  Future Hall of Famer Charles (Old Hoss) Radbourne is the winner, the first of 48 victories for him that season.  John Coleman is the loser, the first of his 48 defeats (13 wins).

Green Phillies

 

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There’s a heavy 1980 flavor in the Phillies camp.  70-year-old Larry Bowa leads’ the trio as the bench coach.  Mike Schmidt, 66, is wrapping up another spring as a guest instructor and the baby of the bunch, 65-year-old Greg Luzinski is also a guest instructor. Together they played 5,432 games for the Phillies.

Next trio in terms of games played? Jimmy Rollins-Chase Utley-Ryan Howard, currently sitting at 5,101. Third, Richie Ashburn-Del Ennis-Willie Jones, 4,944.

Wheels’ Clearwater Report
“There’s a buzz in camp about Maikel Franco’s power.  He’s a different player this spring.  When he was called up in September of ’14 and in spring training last year, he struggled at bat swinging at most anything. He went back to AAA a year ago, worked hard and came back up in May to stay.  He improved a lot offensively and now he’s a legit power hitter. He’s crushing the ball, not hitting fence scrapers.  He makes spectacular plays on defense but needs to be a bit more consistent on all the routine plays.

“Tyler Goeddel has some tools and is a perfect fit with Aaron Altherr out and the fact we are rebuilding. We got Odubel Herrera in the rule 5 draft and now Tyler.  Not saying he’s as good a hitter as Herrera but these two kids are a credit to Mike Ondo and his professional scouts who recommended drafting them.

“J. P. Crawford and Nick Williams are really good-looking prospects who are not far away. Each has a lot of tools.  Williams is strong and has power, not Franco-type power however.

“Roman Quinn was sent to Reading but that kid has tools, too.  He can really fly. He sort of reminds me of Jimmy Rollins with his up-beat personality.  He needs to stay healthy all season and get a lot of at-bats.  I can see why our people are so high on him.

“Most often your AAA club is stocked with six-year minor league free agents, players who are sort of insurance policies in case of injuries.  Lehigh Valley will be different this season.  The first three cuts, Jake Thompson, Mark Appel and Zach Elfin, are impressive young prospects who have a chance to pitch in the majors.

“As I said before, it will be interesting to watch these kids in triple-A.  It used to be a prospect in AA ball would move up the next year and spend a full season in AAA. Nowadays, it seems as if they spend less time in AAA before moving up to the majors.”

Phil-Ins
When did Tug McGraw first wear green on St. Patrick’s Day? Know it was at Jack Russell Stadium.  According to broadandpattison.com: April 17, 1979:  Wearing green socks and a green undershirt, Tug McGraw gave up a game tying home run in the top of the eighth inning, but emerged with a win when the Phillies scored in the bottom of the inning to beat the White Sox . . . A Florida Historical Marker will be dedicated at the location of Clearwater Athletic Field at 10 a.m. on Saturday.  Location is the northeast corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and Seminole Street. The Phillies trained there from 1947 through 1954. Brooklyn (1923-1932; 1936-41) and Cleveland (1942-1946) preceded the Phillies.

Alumni Day

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Third annual Phillies Alumni Day will take place on Sunday. About 30 Alumni will be introduced on the field pre-game.  Some will be signing autographs and three will greet fans at gates which open at 10:35 a.m. for the 1:05 game against Houston.

Spring Training Memories
Randy Ready (INF, 1989-91; 1994-95)
“I signed in 1980 and went straight to Butte so my first spring training was the following year in the Padres minor league camp.  Peoria, AZ, the Rodeway Inn.  Roommate was Al “Country Bumpkin” Manning.

“I remember taking batting practice and then chasing down fly balls in the outfield.  There were no fences so the balls kept going and going.  I remember asking myself, ‘Is this pro ball?’ Especially, after a cup of tomato soup and crackers for lunch served off the tailgate of some pick-up truck.

“My first Phillies camp was 1990.  Larry Bowa hit me ground balls and barked, ‘Your hands aren’t too bad but you got a lot of work to do.’

“What I liked about spring training?  My teammates dragging ass after a long day of work and getting together after for drinks and dinner.  I didn’t like the soreness and the early wake-up calls.”

Phun Fact
The Yankees won the last spring training game in the history of Jack Russell Memorial Stadium, 2-0, on March 28, 2003.

Lens Gem

Players stretch Friday in Bradenton.

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Phillies photographer Miles Kennedy captured a unique angle of the players loosening up in the morning in Bradenton.

Book Signing
On Friday I’m scheduled to sign my new book, The Fightin’ Phillies: 100 Years of Philadelphia Baseball from the Whiz Kids to the Misfits, from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Bright House Field.  Hope to see you there.

Tuned In

 

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Standing by the third base dugout, Phillies broadcasters watch, observe, witness batting practice at Bright House Field.  Three weeks from today they will be enjoying a day off in Cincinnati.  The Phillies and Reds begin the season the day before (April 4) at 4:10 p.m. Game on ComcastSportsnet.

Phil-Ins
Minor league games begin this afternoon, at Carpenter Complex, Blue Jays AAA and AA clubs there while two Phillies A teams go to Dunedin.  Tomorrow, AAA and AA games are against the Pirates at the complex . . . Thursday is a camp day.  All games are 1 p.m. . . . Lefty Jim Kaat is in camp as a guest instructor.  He’ll be there for Sunday’s Alumni Day . . . Another former Phillies lefty, Randy Wolf, announced his retirement last week. Wolf won the first game in Houston’s Enron Field and lost the Citizens Bank Park inaugural game . . . Under the direction of Larry Bowa, Scott Rolen will be in camp Thursday morning to work with Maikel Franco.

Bullpen Notes
Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reported over the weekend that non-roster reliever Edward Mujica has a clause in his contract that he can be released if he’s not added to the 40-man roster by March 26. Ernesto Frieri has the same agreement.  His date is March 31.

Two pitchers who are out of options are RH Jeanmar Gomez and LH Brett Oberholtzer.

Lens Gem

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The half-field on the west side of Bright House Field includes some mounds where pitchers often get extra work daily in the mornings.  Miles Kennedy, Phillies photographer.

Spring Training Memories
Matt Stairs, OF, 2008-09; Phillies Broadcaster
“My first big league camp was 1989 with the Montreal Expos in West Palm Beach, FL. It was their big league camp.  My wife and I lived in an apartment across the street from the park.

“The thing I liked about spring training was learning a lot of hitting and fielding tips from major league players. Also being around players I watched on TV

“Dislike- when I got sent to minor league camp you were just like everyone else, fighting for a job towards a minor league team. I was only in minor league camp over my career for maybe 2 weeks.”

Phun Fact
Two pennant winners trained at Clearwater Athletic Field, the 1941 Brooklyn Dodgers and 1950 Phillies.

Vintage Gem

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Brooklyn Dodgers manager Casey Stengel and Phillies skipper, Jimmy Wilson, shake hands before a spring training game at Clearwater Athletic Field on May 12, 1936.  The Dodgers trained in Clearwater then while the Phillies were in Winter Haven. An outfielder, Stengel played for the Phillies in 1920-21. Photo, courtesy of Bob Warrington.

Book Signing
I’m scheduled to sign my new book, The Fightin’ Phillies: 100 Years of Philadelphia Baseball from the Whiz Kids to the Misfits, from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., this Friday, March 18, at Bright House Field.  First opportunity to buy the book.

Blog Fact
Today’s the 1,900 blog.  The first one was March 20, 2006. Thanks for reading.  Hope you didn’t fall asleep……too often.

R Power

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Every morning, no matter if the Phillies are home on the road, there’s batting practice at Bright House Field.

R Power
Ruf and Rupp each hit two home runs Wednesday as the Phillies won two games, vs. Baltimore in Clearwater and vs. Minnesota in Ft. Myers.  Wonder if that has ever happened, two different players hitting two home runs in a split squad day.

Cameron Rupp posted a clever tweet: “4 homers on the day for Cameron Ruf.”

Wheels’ Clearwater Report
Losing Altherr is a big blow.  He’s an athletic, an outstanding defensive outfielder with a good arm and power potential.  Plus he’s a right-handed bat something we need. Goeddel is an intriguing young prospect. He, too, is very athletic.  As a hitter, very aggressive. As a Rule 5 pick, he was going to get playing time.  Now, even more.

What a great arm Velasquez has. He lights it up in the middle of the 90s consistently.  Can see why we wanted him in the Giles deal.  He likes to pitch and is working on his off-speed stuff.

Howard, who’s been sick, got to take live BP Wednesday.  Standing behind the cage were Luzinski and Schmidt. Thought hit me, those three hit a ton of Phillies home runs. Our greatest eras were represented.  Now, we’re trying to build another core for another championship run.

As we get to the middle of March, more and more Phillies fans are coming down here. In talking with them, they are enjoying seeing the outstanding young players and they understand the direction the organization is taking. They really know a lot about our young prospects, are very interested in judging their talent and following their careers.

I continue to be amazed with the atmosphere at Bright House Field.  There’s no better ballpark in Florida.  Fans just continue to enjoy being here.  It’s been like that from day one 12 years ago.

Phun Fact

JackRussellStadium
Phillies defeated the Detroit Tigers, 4-2, in first game played at Jack Russell Stadium, March 10, 1955. RHP Robin Roberts was the winning pitcher.

Phil-Ins
Birthdays today: OF Cedric Hunter (28) and broadcaster Ben Davis (39) . . . Hispanic Phillies minor leaguers will have English speaking lessons starting Friday morning at the Complex . . . While this is the Phillies 70th spring training in Clearwater, it’s also the 50th anniversary of Carpenter Complex.  Learn about the history of the Complex visit http://www.phillies.com/alumni.

Spring Training Memories
Ben Davis, Phillies broadcaster
“I guess you could say my first spring training was in February 1996, in Peoria, AZ. I was out there the previous year for a week in extended spring after I got drafted by the Padres. But that first, full spring training was in 1996. My roommate was a pitcher and fellow Pennsylvanian named Todd Erdos. I can’t remember the name of the hotel we stayed in, nor do I want to. It was a cockroach-infested hole. One memory I can recall is thinking to myself, ‘How many more bullpens are there to catch?’

“The things I liked most was getting in the hot weather, hitting on an actual field (as opposed to a cage in some cold warehouse back home), being back with my teammates, NCAA March Madness brackets, and preparing myself every day for the long season coming up.

“I didn’t like getting up early every day. I didn’t like the minor league chow line. I didn’t like the endless bullpens to catch. I didn’t like my farmer’s tan! I didn’t like that it was 6 weeks long…we, as players, thought we were ready to go a lot sooner than that.”

Book Signing
I’m scheduled to sign my new book, The Fightin’ Phillies: 100 Years of Philadelphia Baseball from the Whiz Kids to the Misfits, from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Friday, March 18, at Bright House Field.  First opportunity to buy the book.

Vintage Gem

aerial view
Date of this aerial photo is March 9, 2004, just weeks before Citizens Bank Park was to open and Veterans Stadium was to be imploded in just 62 seconds.

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