Tag Archives: Spring Training

Don’t Forget… Game Today!

3 Mar

The first real Spring Training game is today!

The Phillies behind lefty Cole Hamels will take on the New York Yankees at Bright House Field. In addition to Hamels, Mike Stutes, Dave Bush, Jonathan Papelbon, Dontrelle Willis, Raul Valdes and Chad Qualls are all scheduled to pitch.

The game is at 1:05 P.M. and will be broadcasted on Comcast Sportsnet in Philadelphia, as well as on 94.1 FM in Philadelphia.

As mentioned earlier this week, Chase Utley and Placido Polanco will not play in today’s game.  The Phillies are going to do their best to keep Utley’s and Polanco’s work load to a minimum, which will have them sitting out of games throughout Spring Training, and the season.  I wouldn’t expect much of Hamels in this game either, as he’ll likely face a maximum of six batters.

The Yankees will counter with right-hander Ivan Nova, who is coming off of an impressive 16 win season.

I’m on vacation for a few more days, so this is all you get :-)

Enjoy the game!

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Victorino: “I Want to Be Here.”

28 Feb

Photo: Getty Images

There has been little talk about Shane Victorino‘s contract status with all of the hype surrounding Cole Hamels’ impending free agency, but not a whole lot has been said about what’s going to happen with Victorino.

Just thought that you might like to see an exerpt from Jayson Stark’s latest piece on ESPN.com that contains a tibit on Shane…

Cole Hamels isn’t the only household name in Philadelphia who’s a year away from free agency. Let’s not forget Shane Victorino. According to FanGraphs, only one center fielder in the National League was worth more wins above replacement than Victorino (5.9) last season: Matt Kemp (8.7).

So Victorino could find a healthy market next offseason if he makes it to free agency. But will he? After arriving in camp last week, he told MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki: “I don’t plan on going anywhere.”

I envisioned his agents, Seth and Sam Levinson, heading straight for the emergency room the second they read that quote. So I asked Victorino if he meant that quote the way it sounded. Was it so important to him to remain a Phillie that he’d stay at just about any price?

“What that statement was saying,” he said, “was that I’m willing to give up free agency. A lot of guys won’t. In the game of baseball, free agency is what every major league player dreams of. You want to maximize your value, and of course I do, too. But what’s important to me is, I want to be here. I love playing here. My family loves the city. I love the city. So when I made that statement, that’s what I meant.”

Has an impending free agent ever let a club know he’d take a hometown discount more clearly than that? Next thing you know, he’ll rent a billboard.

Ok… Wow. I’m sure people are going to start talking about this one today.

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Mike Schmidt Takes on New Role in Phillies Camp

27 Feb

Photo: Miles Kennedy/Phillies

Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt is a regular every season at the Phillies Spring Training camp in Clearwater Florida, but usually spends just a week or two with the club.  This season Schmidt has agreed to stay and spend more time with the club at the request of Charlie Manuel and the Phillies, saying that he may hang around until about the middle of March.  I can’t think of anyone better then the best position player ever to come out of the Phillies organization.

In the past Schmidt has spent his time floating around and working with hitters in a minimal role, but this season plans to get involved in a more one-on-one basis with the players, and talk more about hitting, and what goes along with that.

“There will be times when I chat with guys about mechanics, but for the most part, the additions I’m going to offer this year are in-game strategies like, ‘Let’s be more aggressive in fastball counts, let’s be tougher to strike out, let’s figure out a way to give up fewer at-bats,’” Schmidt said. “A guy like me is only good if there are ears that want to listen. I never said I’m the end-all when it comes to that, but I’m a sounding board for guys, and I enjoy it.”

There were plenty of outcries this offseason for the Phillies to add to their offense, and they did that in a way.  They added some better bats to their bench in Jim Thome, Laynce Nix, and Ty Wigginton, but other then that the names are pretty familiar.  What Schmidt wants to do, with reinforcment from Thome, is get the hitters to reconsider their approach to everything.

“Can you change a guy’s approach? Yeah, you can get a guy to think about his role and profession. You can get him to think about being great at it and get him to understand it takes applying your mind more to your craft. You can get a guy to change the way he goes about his pre-game work.”

“You can get a guy to think more about his craft,” Schmidt said. “You need to come to the park and be darn sure you know who’s pitching tonight for starters, and I’ve heard stories that there have been occasions where guys might come and ask the hitting coach who’s pitching tonight.  I can’t even fathom that… It takes applying your mind more to your craft.”

Schmidt also said that he thinks he knows how Ryan Howard feels about being “That guy.”

“I’ve been in his shoes,” Schmidt said.  “He and I were the clean-up hitters, and the guy expected to come through, and the guy making the most money.  We probably get the most opportunities to make things happen, so we probably fail more then anybody, so the focus is probably on us.”

Schmidt isn’t trying to call anyone out, but he feels that this collection of guys has more then enough pop to get into the Postseason, and go all the way.  It’s just a matter of having the right mental approach, physical ability, and a little bit of luck.

It’ll be nice having two Hall of Famers in Schmidt, and Ryne Sandberg in camp for an extended period of time.

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Breathe Easy Kids

26 Feb

Photo: Miles Kennedy

Breathe easy kiddos, Cliff Lee is just fine.

Cliff threw an early morning bullpen to beat out the rain, and it went very well.  Lee had to skip his last bullpen session due to a sore abdominal, but he got back on track today and threw his normal routine. He left the complex with a smirk, and uttered that everything was “All good.”

Pitching Coach Rich Dubee confirmed that Lee looked good and confirmed that Lee will throw live batting practice on Tuesday, which is a great sign that he’s back on track.

So you may now cease panicing.

We’re only three real days into camp, and it’s not uncommon for things to be a bit off.

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Notes From Spring Training

25 Feb

Photo: Miles Kennedy

Just a few updates on what’s happening in Clearwater…

• Cliff Lee - Cliff has been held back with some soreness in his abdomen.  He claims that everything is fine, and he’s scheduled to throw a bullpen on Sunday.  Lee has had some problems with his abdomen in his past, but he says it’s nothing to worry about.

I hate it when they say that.

• Jose Contreras- has thrown a second bullpen, and it went very, very well.  He feels as if he’s able to throw harder then before, and that he’s going to be able to last though the season. “We were very encouraged with how he threw,” Ruben Amaro said. “More importantly, he was really encouraged.”  It’s important that the player throw without reservations.

Domonic Brown - Brown says that he came to camp to win the left field job, even though the Phillies plan to have him play there full time at AAA Lehigh Valley.

• Justin De Fratus - Justin has some soreness in his right elbow which should keep him out of practice for at least a week. De Fratus said he felt tightness in his elbow last month, and it has not improved. “We’ll just slow him down,” Amaro said. “It’s early and we want to be conservative with him.”

I don’t like the sound of that either.

 • Florida State Exhibition Game - The Phillies have decided to start Austin Hyatt.  Also slated to pitch are  Jake Diekman and Jeremy Horst, followed by relievers Michael Schwimer, Joe Savery, J.C. Ramirez, B.J. Rosenberg and Phillippe Aumont.  The game is at 1 p.m. at Bright House Field.

Austin Hyatt spent the season last year at AA Reading, where he went 12-6 with a 3.85 ERA.

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Howard: “I’m About Due”

23 Feb

You can say that again.

That was Ryan Howard‘s response when he was asked about being the last out of the season, two years in a row.

“I’m not going to lie. It sucks. And I know how it looks to everybody, like having the season come down and you’re that guy. But I try to look at it positive like, the last two seasons I got out, I figure I’m about due. I’d love to be in that situation again. There’s going to be those times when you come through and there’s going to be those times when you don’t come through.”

It seems like this offseason has been a bit of a reboot for Howard, who has been working hard recover from not just this injury, but the mental stress of being that last out, twice.

But realistically, when could he be back?

“We’ll see,” Howard said. “Ask me in May. I’m not going to put a time limit on it. I’m going to listen to my body and see where we are. … I feel good, where I am right now. I mean, I don’t know what everybody else’s expectations were for me at this point, but I feel good. Not exactly where I want to be yet, there is still a lot of strengthening that needs to take place, change of direction and working on those kinds of things, but I feel all right.”

Any time in April is probably just too generous.  With an injury of this type Ryan isn’t able to work other muscle groups in his body since he can’t apply much pressure to his legs.  As a result he’s packed on a few extra pounds, but once he’s got the go ahead to move further he’ll be able to get himself into game shape. He has been cleared to lift weights, and is taking live batting practice, and fielding a ground balls.
It’s going to be a process, so I wouldn’t get to excited thinking he can come back early.
“I’m going to listen to my body,” Ryan said.  And that’s probably the best thing that he can do.
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Jose Contreras: Back On The Mound

21 Feb

Photo:Yong Kim

It’s been a long time, but on Tuesday Jose Contreras threw an early morning bullpen session, and reports are that it went nicely.  It was the first time that the Big Truck threw off the mound since he had elbow surgery at the end of last season.

I’m not sure what Jose has left in the tank, but Contreras (age 40) was productive last year before going down for the season, and it will be interesting what he’s able to do.  Jose pitched in just 14 innings last season but he was 0-0 with a 3.86 ERA.  One thing is for sure, there sure are a few characters in the bullpen this year, and it will be interesting to see how it all shakes out.

I”ll have more to add later today after Rich Dubee opens up to the media, so stop back.

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Hamels Makes It Clear – He Wants To Stay

21 Feb

Photo: Miles Kennedy/Phillies

Cole Hamels spoke with a small collection of reporters after his workout on Tuesday where he addressed a few questions reguarding his contract status with the Phillies.  He answered a bunch of tough questions, but gave really great answers.  If you’re a Phillies fan, than you’re gonna like a lot of what he said.

“I was very fortunate enough to be drafted to an organization that is trying to win and obviously has won,” Hamels said. “Every day, every year, we seem to get some top players. So that kind of shows the value and the direction the team wants to go. I’ve just been very fortunate to be a part of it. And it’s also something where I don’t know any better.

“I live in Philadelphia. I’ve been here for I guess 10 years now, so that’s been something that’s been kind of nice, kind of something I’ve been focused on. It’s a great organization to play for and I’d love to be a part of it.”

What will make the negotiations with the Phillies pretty difficult is that they already have both Roy Halladay, and Cliff Lee under contract for VERY big money.  It’s very possible that given his age, and talent that Hamels himself is inline for a similar deal, and should he reach the open market, he would likely be the most sought after free-agent next fall.  But he doesn’t necessarly want to be compared to his teammates.

“Those are two guys (Halladay, and Lee) that are two of the best pitchers in Major League Baseball and (have been) for a substantial amount of years,” Hamels said. “I’ve been able to get stronger and a lot more intelligent baseball-wise. It’s just taking the next step to do what those two have done, which is to go out there and repeat, have successful years and stay healthy. That’s ultimately the big picture, to stay healthy, go out, play and help your team. That’s kind of where I’m at right now, to go out there and do it. And if I’m able to do it then things will obviously take care of itself.”

Read more here… 

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Ryan Howard – Making Progress

20 Feb

Photo: Miles Kennedy

Ryan Howard is in camp with the Phillies and looks to be making significant progress.  Now let’s not get our hopes up just yet, because the big man has a long road ahead of him still, but so far… Things look really good.  On Monday, Howard took a few hacks in the cage and was seen jogging around the field.   He also fielded a few grounders at first base doing some side-to-side lateral movements which is a big step for a man of his size given the injury that he has.

Howard’s injured achilles should sideline him for the first month or so of the season.  However the Phillies seem confident that with the help of their staff athletic trainer Scott Sheridan, and team physician Michael Ciccotti, Howard should make a full recover, but it will take time.

Charlie Manuel says that Howard is “Ahead of schedule” and that he thinks Ryan is at about “50%.”

Ryan plans to meet with reporters on Wednesday to discuss his progress.

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Day One Isn’t Just for Pitchers and Catchers

20 Feb

Photo: Miles Kennedy/Phillies

You’ll be pleased to know that the Phillies motto of “Unfinished Business” still stands.

That being said this first day of camp is usually reserved just for pitchers and catchers, but there were a good collection of position players, and bench players out on the field at the Carpenter Complex on Sunday.  Hunter Pence, Jim Thome, Scott PodsednikJuan Pierre, and Ty Wigginton have all taken their first hacks of the Spring in the cage.

Thome looks to be in fantastic shape.  Probably the best he’s been in years which leads one to think that he plans to take the field on Opening Day at first base.  With the questions surrounding the return of Ryan Howard it’s nice to know that the bench like this is backing him up.

The same goes for Juan Pierre.  This guy is one of the hardest workers in baseball.  It’s early, but I have almost no doubt that he makes the team out of Spring Training.

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