May 2008

Four in Phoenix


The best of the east meets the best of the west in a four-game series starting tonight in Phoenix’s Chase Field, once known as Bank One Ballpark.

The Diamondbacks have the best record in the majors.  They are coming off a weekend in which they dropped two of three to the Mets.

The Phillies are 14-20 in Phoenix.  A year ago, they dropped two of three there and lost the season series, 5-1, which means the Diamondbacks swept a three-game set at Citizens Bank Park.

Their lone visit to Philly is a July weekend, 11-12-13.  The Saturday game (12th) has been moved from 7:05 p.m. to 3:55 p.m. for a FOX game of the week telecast.

All-Star Voting
Balloting is underway online at and home games at Citizens Bank Park.

Over the last 10 seasons, the Phillies have had just two outfielders on the NL All-Star squad,  Bobby Abreu (2004-05) and Aaron Rowand (2007). 

No doubt Chase Utley is going to be an All-Star again (he may wind up with the most votes) but another Phillies bat that is deserving is Pat Burrell. 

He’s been consistent since day one of this season and led the NL in RBI for many days until yesterday. 

Pat’s reached base safely in 30 straight games and 31 of his 32 games this season.  His longest streak of getting on base is 34 games in 2002. 

So, vote.


Heading West


Another road trip following this afternoon’s game against the Giants.  Last trip was seven games in three cities in three different time zones and the Phillies went 5-2.

This time: seven games in two cities in one time zone (Pacific).  Starts tomorrow night in Phoenix, the first of four games against the Diamondbacks who have the best record in baseball. Then, three games in San Francisco next weekend.

How Many?
Ever wonder how many bats, balls, caps and uniforms are taken on a road trip?  Glad you asked

Frank Coppenbarger, the veteran Director of Team Travel and Clubhouse Services, answered that question with a friendly e-mail:

“Each position player takes his own personal bag with 8-10 bats in it.  Additionally we take 1 or 2 extra bags with pitchers and other miscellaneous bats.

“We receive 6 dozen new baseballs from the home club for batting practice for each game played on the road.  This is a reciprocal agreement with all the clubs and helps in not having to carry so many more ball bags on the trip.  We do however carry about 60 dozen additional balls for early hitting and bullpen use.

“We generally carry about 50-60 (usually 6 of each size) extra caps in case a player needs a new one, roster changes, gifts, etc.

“Each player has 2 sets of jerseys (starting pitchers & catchers in some cases may have 3).  We also carry extra blank jerseys and BP tops (2 per size) in case we get a new player.  We also have a complete kit of lettering and numbers to make jerseys in case we get a new player.  Each Visiting Clubhouse Manager will handle getting it sewn.

“Additionally, we have a bags full (25 pair or so) of custom made pants for each active position player in case of rips, tears etc.  We also carry a similar bag of misc. sized extra pants for any new player that we might acquire.  This will get him in uniform until his custom made stuff arrives.”

There you have it, another Baseball 101 lesson.

Bat Coming Around


Tonight’s Lineup
Victorino, cf
Werth, rf
Utley, 2b
Howard, 1b
Burrell, lf
Feliz, 3b
Coste, c
Bruntlett, ss
Kendrick, p

Warming Up
Ryan Howard is coming around with his bat.  Great news for the Phillies; not so good news for enemy pitchers.

His game-winning homer last night was a typical bomb.  Once his bat gets smoking, and it will, we can ride the big shoulders of the big guy.

Bullpen did a job again last night in shutting the door.  Adam Eaton overcame a 2-run first inning and kept us in the game. 

Two out of three.  That’s the needed formula.

Mike’s Wine
Mike Schmidt was at Citizens Bank Park this afternoon promoting his new wine, Mike Schmidt 548 Zinfandel.

He, Ernie Banks and Eddie Murray, are members of the exclusive 500 Home Run Club who have come up with their own wine from Eos Estate Winery of Paso Robles, CA. Proceeds from the sale of Mike’s wine will support Cystic Fibrosis.

More than 30 professional athletes have charity wines.

Minor League notes
Lehigh Valley has released INF Chris Woodward and LHP Vic Darensbourg . . . INF Oscar Robles and LHP Les Walrond have been added to the IronPigs roster . . . LHP Antonio Bastardo, 2-0, at Clearwater with 47 strikeouts (tops in all the minors) has been promoted to Reading; he’ll make his first start tomorrow night in Harrisburg . . . Looking for lefthanders in the bullpen, Reading starters Joshua Outman and Fabio Castro are being moved to the bullpen . . . RHP Tyson Brummett (3-0, 1.95) was promoted to Clearwater . . . Threshers RHP Carlos Monasterios was put on the DL with a right shoulder inflammation.


Shane In Center


Yep, Shane Victorino is back in the lineup tonight:

Victorino, cf
Werth, rf
Utley, 2b
Howard, lb
Burrell, lf
Feliz, 3b
Bruntlett, ss
Ruiz, c
Eaton, p

New Month
A new month is here.  Last night’s loss kept the Phillies from taking over first place.  Last time the Phillies were atop the division on this date was 2001.

The end of April means it is time for the player and pitcher of the month in the American and National Leagues.  Chase Utley and Pat Burrell should be among the NL candidates. 

Chase leads the league with 11 homers, along “only” 10 came in April. 

When checking the league leaders in the world of offense, you will find Chase’s name in average, runs, doubles, hits, total bases, on-base percentage, extra base hits and slugging percentage.  That’s pretty heavy.

How are the winners chosen?  Glad you asked.

Each home team today will receive 10 ballots for the player and pitcher.  The home team PR person will distribute five ballots to the home team media (writers/broadcasters) and five to the visiting team.  Results are e-mailed to MLB in New York.

Two Phillies have won April honors: Mike Schmidt in 1976 and Von Hayes in 1989.

Joyful Philly Fans
Last fall, the Phillies were in the playoffs.  Now, the 76ers and Flyers are in the playoffs again.  Philly fans are buzzing with excitement. 

The entire park cheered last night when the Flyers’ final score was posted on the Citizens Bank Park scoreboard.  Many of the park’s 700 television sets were tuned in to the hockey playoff game.  Same thing will occur tonight with the 76ers playing across the street.

I remember a humorous incident back in 1976. Tommy Underwood was pitching at Veterans Stadium when the Flyers won a playoff game.  The Vet erupted, causing Tommy to jump and back off the mound. 

First ball
Tonight is the 125th anniversary of the Phillies first game.  To commemorate the occasion the longest-tenured Phillies employee will throw out the first ball.  He first joined the Phillies as a batting practice pitcher in 1947.  He’s been a coach (including 1950 Phillies), scout and goodwill ambassador ever since.  Say hello to Maje McDonanell.