February 2008

Schmidt Joins Camp


Warm breezes, high humidity and rapidly moving clouds will be followed by thunderstorms and a cold front later today.  None of it interfered with the Phillies spring training camp, which is day 5, if you are counting.

First official full squad workout is tomorrow, following a slew of introductions of staff and a speech by Charlie Manuel.  Everyone is in camp except Jimmy Rollins who isn’t due officially until tomorrow.

Mike Schmidt began a two-week stint as a guest instructor.  He spent time in the indoor batting cages, observing batting practice for position players at Bright House Networks Field and then on the facility’s half field.  He and coach Steve Smith will be working on polishing the defensive skills of the third basemen in camp, Pedro Feliz (in photo with Mike), Greg Dobbs, Wes Helms and Eric Bruntlett.

Smith also spent about 20 minutes working solo with Ryan Howard.  One of Steve’s drills is to hit one-hoppers at Ryan who is on both knees.  The pair then worked on fielding techniques around the first base bag.

National TV
The Today Show will be here at 7:30 tomorrow morning to interview Kyle Kendrick who was punked on Friday with a trade to Japan.  Brett Myers, the ring leader, will join Kyle and Matt Lauer and Meredith Viera.

The prank, that was originally taped and aired by Comcast SportsNet’s Leslie Gudel, has gotten national attention.  Matter of fact, we had to decline some radio requests for Kyle today.  Leslie, meanwhile, is appearing on several radio stations.

But, the Today Show?  Finally, some fun baseball news.  Sure beats more Roger Clemens news.

Fifth Starter
A reader asked about the fifth starter position in the rotation.  Right now, the competition is between Adam Eaton, Kris Benson, J. D. Durbin, Chad Durbin and Travis Blackley.  Six weeks from today is opening day and we’ll know by then.

Tickets On Sale
Individual game tickets will be available starting on Thursday by phone, online at phillies.com or in person at Citizens Bank Park.  Check out the Press Release on the main page of this site for details.

Day 4

Yet another sunny warm day for day 4 of pitchers and catchers.

Most fans today were at Bright House Networks Field where the position players worked out.  Wes Helms and Jayson Werth joined fellow infielders and outfielders. 

Pitchers and catchers did their daily drills at Carpenter Field.  The entire full squad will work out for the first time on Tuesday.  Workouts then will be a bit more interesting and a little longer into the afternoon.

Two Japanese media crews were here today to interview So Taguchi.  We will be seeing more media from Japan throughout the spring and regular season.

Charlie Manuel’s post-workout media briefing had to be canceled today.  Charlie’s really under the weather.

Post-workout was a media batting practice, orchestrated by Milt Thompson.  The scouting report: keep writing and reporting.

Benson in Camp

Guess what?  Sunny and warm and another day of pitchers and catchers working out on three of the Carpenter Field mounds.

Buzz of the day was the arrival of RHP Kris Benson.  He threw off the mound around 11:15 a.m.  There were more eyes focused on him than a litter of friendly cats watching a bird cage.  After the workout, he was the center of media interviews in the clubhouse.

Shane Victorino and So Taguchi, a pair of outfielders, joined several other position players at Bright House Networks Field.  Correction: in this space yesterday it was mentioned Geoff Jenkins worked out for the first time.  The author must have been napping.  Jenkins was here before yesterday.

Poor Kyle Kendrick.  Leslie Gudel of Comcast SportsNet arranged for a candid camera bit with the righthander.  Ruben Amaro announced that Kyle was traded to Japan for a pitcher.  TV cameras were rolling, writers were asking questions during the impromptu press conference in the clubhouse.  The gag was so thorough when Kyle called his agent, the agent played along.  Ken Mandel will have the details on this site later.

Fortunately, Kyle is a good sport and his heart beat has returned to normal.

COLE QUOTE: “We need to defend something (East title), but we need to get something more.  We still have the hunger to fight because we didn’t achieve what we wanted,” Hamels was quoted in USA TODAY.

Jenkins in Camp

Day two was similar in several ways…..plenty of sunshine, same drills as  opening day

The pitchers in camp are divided into four groups.  Groups 1 and 2 threw off the mound yesterday.  Groups 3 and 4, today.  Tomorrow, 1-2 are back on the hill.  Building up arm strength is a process that can’t be speeded along.  Hitters can get ready more quickly because they can hit and hit day by day.

One of the daily drills is PFP which stands for pitchers fielding practice.  It can appear to be routine but proper execution means one very important result: an out.  Outs are not easy to come by so FPF is something that is done over and over again.

Ryan Howard, who came to camp a week earlier than the first workout of position players, again took hitting and worked on defense at Bright House Networks Field.  After the workout, he was surrounded by media members in the clubhouse.  Both the Phillies and Ryan’s agent agreed mutually that contract talks would remain private so the media questions focused on baseball.  You can get filled in on Howard’s media session by Ken Mandel on this site.

Ryan’s being here early is a big plus.  Shows he is anxious to play and willing to get in extra work.

Pat Burrell, inducted into the University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame on Wednesday night, was back in Clearwater and he, too, worked out.  Geoff Jenkins put on a Phillies uniform for the first time and also joined the group at BHNF.

My autograph?  Thanks for asking.  Yesterday’s comment was a mediocre attempt at mediocre humor.

Opening Day

Happy Valentine’s Day!  Happy baseball! 

A bright sunny Clearwater day without a cloud in the baby blue sky greeted the first Phillies workout day for pitchers and catchers.  Somewhere around 200 spectators, studying numerical rosters, meandered around Carpenter Field. 

At 10:45 a.m., the first sound of baseball could be heard from the seven mounds located between the Robin Roberts and Mike Schmidt fields when Joe Bisenius, Joe Savery, Chad Durbin, Adam Eaton, Fabio Castro, Carlos Carrasco and Brad Lidge threw the first pitches.

Peering from behind the mounds were Charlie Manuel, Rich Dubee, Rod Nichols, Charley Kerfeld, Dallas Green, Chuck Lamar and Scott Sheridan.  Manuel was so anxious for the first day, he arrived at 6 a.m.  the same time a batch of athletic trainers are dressed and ready for work.

Patrolling the sidelines were a dozen writers, five TV camera crews and three still photographers.  Phillies baseball is back in the news on a daily basis from now through the last pitch of the World Series.

The first crack of the bat came from Bright House Networks Field where a handful of position players took batting practice, Ryan Howard, Pedro Feliz, Greg Dobbs, Greg Golson and Chris Snelling.  Later several of that group did some defensive drills on the half-field.

The first video report out of Clearwater will appear on this website later today.  Daily reports by Scott Palmer will be posted throughout the spring. A regular feature will be a "Rookie’s Diary" video blog by Joe Savery, the Phillies # 1 pick from a year ago who is in his first major league camp.

The first autograph was signed by me, believe it or not.  Must have signed a dozen…..and, I still have all of them if anyone is interested.

To end this first day…..six weeks from today we will be flying out of Lakeland and spring training 2008 will be history.

Truck "Outta Here"

9:11 a.m. today and the truck is “Outta Here!”, here being Bright House Networks Field in sunny Clearwater.

The equipment truck that left Citizens Bank Park on Thursday a.m. was here early today and emptied quickly by a 15-person crew.  Now, the clubhouse crew is organizing the equipment room and clubhouse.  Stacks of bats are piled in the middle of the clubhouse.  A total of 62 players will be in camp with pitchers and catchers working out for the first time on Thursday.

Appreciate the responses to the Packing Time blog.  Bill, we looked but you weren’t on the truck as you had wished.

A question was raised about my status.  I’m headed toward semi-retirement sometime after spring training has ended.  Which creates bad news and good news for readers….I’ll still be blogging through spring training.

Another reader asked about Philly radio stations broadcasting from spring training.  John Brazer, our Director of Publicity, has a gaggle of stations coming down: WMGK, (7 p.m. to midnight), February 26-27-28 . . . WPHI (calling in during the day), Feb. 29 and March 3 . . . WPEN (12 noon-3 p.m.), March 6-7 . . .  WPEN (3 p.m. to 7 p.m.), March 12-13 . . .  WXTU (6 a.m. to 10 a.m.), March 14 . . .  WIP (call ins during 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. show), March 17 . . . WMMR (7 p.m. to midnight), March 17-18 . . . WPHT (Michael Smerconish, 5:30 a.m. to 9 a.m.), March 21.

A complete listing of the spring training broadcasts, including 10 online broadcasts on this site, is available in the Schedule section of the home page.

Packing Time

It’s that time of the year to pack for spring training in Clearwater, FL.  Personally, a couple of suite cases stuffed with golf shirts, Hawaiian shirts, dockers, shorts, underwear, 2 sweaters, 2 jackets, sneakers, sandals, 1 tie, 1 dress shirt, 1 sport coat, 4 baseball caps, suntan lotion and a large supply of geritol.

That’s easy compared to the clubhouse crew of Kevin Steinhour, Phil Sheridan and Dan O’Rourke.  They’ve been packing for the last week. 

A tractor trailer will depart Citizens Bank Park on Thursday, heading south to Bright House Networks Field where it will be unloaded this weekend.

Among the contents:
1 pitching machine
1 exercise bike
4 laundry carts
10 cases of gum
12 cases of sunflower seeds
15 gallons of pine tar remover
18 coolers
40 sets of golf clubs
40 cases of tape
60 rosin bags
100 green jerseys
180 belts
200 helmets
350 pair of shorts
350 blue and red uniform tops
450 pair of socks
475 athletic supporters
500 pair of pants
600 hats
800 towels
900 bats
2,000 t-shirts
7,500 12 oz cups
15,000 baseballs

Kind of hard to play baseball without baseballs.