February 2010

Camp continued on the fields today but there’s also stuff happening off the field.

Friday night is the annual Phan Fest at Bright House Field.  Saturday night, Karen and Jamie Moyer are receiving he humanitarian award from the Clearwater For Youth organization at their annual banquet.  They certainly deserve the award.

All players are undergoing eye exams split over today and tomorrow.  Sunday Mickey Morandini comes in as a guest instructor for a couple of weeks.  He’ll spend time in both the majors and minor camps. 

Just think, there’ll be no baseball games this weekend.  That won’t happen again until after the World Series in October. 

Alumni Memories
Daily feature here are spring training memories from our Alumni.  They were asked three questions (1) First spring training and their remembrances; (2) What they liked the most about spring training, and (3) What they liked the least.

Dallas Green (RHP, 1960-64; 1967; MGR, 1979-81)
“1956, Bob Conley, Don Cardwell, Chris Short and I were invited to a mini-camp before the big league camp opened in Clearwater.  We stayed at the West Coast Hotel, three to a room.  We weren’t allowed to have cars so we walked everywhere. Short and I road the train from Wilmington, DE.  We were kept around to throw BP, Hamner, Jones, Ennis, Ashburn and those guys.  We were young, wild, could throw hard and we were trying to impress everyone.  The vets hated us, didn’t want to face us. Later, I was sent to Bennettsville, SC, where the Phillies low minor league players trained.  I wore 177 or 176.  The next year, I was drafted by the Army at the start of spring training.  I thought my career was over before it started. Took a bus back to Philly for a physical exam.  The following day, we were lined up to get on a bus for boot camp in South Carolina.  Four of us were called out of line and taken into a little room.  They told me I had failed my physical because of a hernia.  So, back on the bus for spring training.  During the early days, you were always trying to impress someone.  I was nervous, scared but excited to be rubbing elbows with Roberts and Simmons.  In ’56, the younger players used the old clubhouse at Athletic Field, the field we called Iwo Jima.  We weren’t allowed at Jack Russell Stadium. That old clubhouse was awful.  You almost had to dress and shower in shifts.  The hardest part was being sent down and having to pack and move.  You might go from Clearwater to Plant City and then to Bennettsville or Leesburg.”

Next post: Monday, March 1.  Taking a short break.


Big Crowd Greets Phils

Warmest day of the winter greeted the Phillies as all 58 players worked out for the first time on Day 6.  They were also greeted by the biggest fan turnout I’ve seen for the first full day.

When infielders took infield at 11 a.m., it was standing room only in the bleacher areas between the Schmidt and Ashburn fields.  The “A” infield was on the Schmidt field. Batting practice against the coaching staff began 30 minutes later on four different fields.  The fans spread out then as the big names were spread over the four fields.

The position players were assigned to two different groups for fundamentals and two other groups infield drills and then four different groups for hitting.  Players needed to pay attention to where they were supposed to be.

Before the workout, each player was measured for a new uniform by Majestic.  Phillies TV has a crew in camp to tape stand-up videos and interviews each of three mornings.  J-Roll had his group media session after the workout.

Day 7 is tomorrow, much the same schedule.  In a couple of days, BP is enhanced as pitchers will be throwing to hitters, instead of coaches.  That usually means there will be a few broken bats.

Photo Day for media and MLB licensees starts at 7 tomorrow morning.  Photographers will set up stations in the indoor batting cages at Bright House Field.  Each player needs to make the round. 

Ruben will have his weekly conference call with pro scouts when the players take the field tomorrow morning.

Alumni Memories
A daily feature will be spring training memories by Phillies Alumni, who were asked three questions:  (1) Memories of their very first spring training; (2) What they liked the most about spring training, and (3) What did they like the least.

Terry Harmon (INF, 1967; 1969-77)
“1967 in Clearwater. Wore #54. Stayed at the Fort Harrison Hotel with all the players and staff.  One of the neatest things was going to Clearwater and the drive from the airport, all the beautiful palm trees and the water and then going to work and trying to save a position ever year.  All the preparation for spring training every year always led to aches and pains the first day.  No matter how hard you worked at home, it was the same every spring.  I loved spring training.  It was a time to bring your family to Clearwater for six weeks or more, spend time on the beach and spend time with other families.  I loved every minute of it.  Every year I was on the ledge because I was a utility player and someone was always trying to get my job.  I was lucky enough to hang on for a few years and have a great mediocre career.”


More Buzz in Camp

More buzz in camp today.  Position players had physicals and then took BP at Bright House Field.  All 58 lockers in the clubhouse are nearly filled. More fans watched BP than the pitchers and catchers who worked out at Carpenter Complex on Day 5.

Ryan Howard looks as thin as Charlie Manuel.  Chase looks like Chase.  Since he’s not technically due until tomorrow, he’s introducing himself as “Hi, I’m invisible.”

Tomorrow the full camp works out for the first time, using four fields at Carpenter Complex, Bright House Field, batting cages at both places and the half-field at BHF.  The best facilities in Florida enable the players to get a lot done in a short amount of time. 

Prior to tomorrow’s workout, all players will gather toward the middle of the clubhouse for a meeting.  Included are introductions of the staff, uniform and non-uniform, in camp.  The meeting will conclude with Charlie’s state of the union speech.

Live TV
Daily News Live (Comcast SportsNet) will broadcast live from 5:00-6:00  p.m. from today through Friday.  This marks the first year that the show will be broadcast live in its entirety from Bright House Field.   Highlights include Scott Eyre as a special guest on Wednesday and coverage of Phan Fest on Friday.  Michael Barkann is the host.

Yep, the annual Clearwater Phan Fest will take place Friday evening at Bright House Field.  No admission charge.  More details will be posted on this website shortly.

Your Turn to Vote
Online balloting for the Phillies Wall of Fame begin tomorrow on this site and run through March 23.  Your chance to select the top five candidates out of a dozen.  Those five will then be presented to a special Wall of Fame Selection Committee (media and front office staff) who will select the 2010 inductee.

Induction will take place Friday night, August 6.

Alumni Memories
A daily feature will be spring training memories by Phillies Alumni, who were asked three questions:  (1) Memories of their very first spring training; (2) What they liked the most about spring training, and (3) What did they like the least.

Larry Christenson (RHP, 1973-83)
“1973 with the Phillies in Clearwater, #51. Roy Thomas was my roomie.  What I remember from that first day was the dozens of writers and media that were following Steve Carlton around like the ‘Pied Piper’.  He had won 27 games the previous year and I was wondering who this Carlton guy was.  I enjoyed the sun, the fun and competing for a spot on the team.  I didn’t like running because of my terribly bad back and the painful back spasms I would go through.”


Polly on 3rd

Day 4 is finished, the daily workouts for pitchers and catchers, that is. Golf, fishing, family time, shopping are options for the rest of the day.

Tomorrow position players get their physicals and then Tuesday everybody takes to the field.

Polanco has been here for the first four days of camp.  When everyone finishes their opening stretching, he, coach Sam Perlozzo and minor league infield coordinator Doug Mansolino spend time on the half field at Bright House Field.  Ground balls at third base are part of the daily routine. 

“Polly” has played third in the past but that’s going to be his daily location now.  Perlozzo’s chief concern is avoiding a sore arm.  Throws from second and third base are different animals.  Patience will be the key ingredient.

Alumni Memories
A daily feature will be spring training memories by Phillies Alumni, who were asked three questions:  (1) Memories of their very first spring training; (2) What they liked the most about spring training, and (3) What did they like the least.

Dennis Bennett (LHP, 1962-64)
“1958 in Johnson City, TN.  That was a rookie league that started playing in June and we trained there after I signed.  The following year was my first in Florida.  I was in Leesburg.  I remember walking in the hotel and meeting 20-30 teammates.  The next day, I walked in the clubhouse and there must have been 30-40 black players.  I didn’t know that the blacks couldn’t live where the whites did.  I was shocked to learn that.  I was a thrower and Ben Tincup, a pitching coach, really helped me become a pitcher.  The instruction in spring training was by far the best I had ever received.  I loved baseball and enjoyed every spring.  After spring training in 1959, I was sent to Bakersfield where Paul Owens was my manager.  Early in the season, I got shelled in the first game of a double-header.  Between games, Paul came up to me, ‘You’re starting the second game.’  I couldn’t believe it.  I pitched a 3-hit complete game.”



Sue is correct…..PFP is pitchers fielding practice. 

More PFP is in store for Day 3 today at Carpenter Complex.  Working on fundamentals can seem mundane and boring.  Yet, executing fundamentals properly can mean the difference between a win and a loss.  Multiple losses during a season can be deadly and mean the difference between playing or watching on TV in October.

Repetition is necessary to iron out kinks.

Today pitchers and catchers will be working on PFP on four fields just before noon 

Roberts Field
3-1 plays (first baseman to pitcher covering first)
3-1 with runner on second base
 “in between” ball
3-6-1 double play

Carlton Field
dead ball
passed ball/wild pitch
high chopper

Ashburn Field
1-2-3 double play
1-6-3 double play
sacrifice bunt to first
sacrifice bunt to second

Schmidt Field
comebackers for runners at second
comebackers for runners at third
drag bunt
# 1 bunt play

Alumni Memories
A daily feature will be spring training memories by Phillies Alumni, who were asked three questions:  (1) Memories of their very first spring training; (2) What they liked the most about spring training, and (3) What did they like the least.

Warren Brusstar (RHP, 1977-82)
“Don’t remember too much about spring training.  Did remember my first year in the big league camp walking in the clubhouse and seeing superstars like Schmidt, Carlton and Luzinski.  Just being in a clubhouse with them was a thrill.  Sometimes we got time off which allowed us to play golf and relax a little.  You could get your work done at your own pace.  The only thing I didn’t like were the early mornings.  I’m just not an early morning person by any means.”

Next Post: Sunday

Busy Media Day

Busy media day today, which is Day 2.

ESPN TV’s Baseball Tonight Grapefruit ExpressTour show is live from Bright House Field today at 3 p.m.  Karl Ravech, John Kruk and Bobby Valentine are here and will be on a set located in the main concourse behind third base.  Chase, Cole and Brad are among the interviews.

Following today’s workout, Halladay will hold a briefing with the media.  It has brought more national media into camp as well as Toronto media from the Blue Jays camp in nearby Dunedin.

Pitchers and catchers did much of the same as Day 1 with groups 3-4 getting in their 15-minute throwing sessions.  The schedule includes PFP.  What is PFP?  I’ll get into that tomorrow.

The position players who are in camp took batting practice at Bright House Field while the pitchers and catchers did their thing at Carpenter Complex.

Kruk, Dave Hollins and Milt Thompson hooked up in conversations behind the batting cage.  Could have taken a mini-1993 team photo.

Alumni Memories
A daily feature is spring training memories by Phillies Alumni, who were asked three questions:  (1) Memories of their very first spring training; (2) What they liked the most about spring training, and (3) What did they like the least.

Darold Knowles (LHP, 1966; CH, 1989-90)
“I was in Thomasville, GA, with the Orioles in 1961.  We lived in a dormitory so I had plenty of roommates.  I remember I was scared to death that first day.  Earl Weaver was a minor league manager with us.  I loved the city, the pine trees and southern beauty of Thomasville.  I had never been out of my home state of Missouri until then.  I had a desire to make it but was uncertain.  It seemed like there was a lot of weight on my shoulders.”

Next post: Saturday.

Focus on Halladay

Blue sky, plenty of sunshine, green grass and a chilly northwest breeze was the setting for the first day of workouts for pitchers and catchers at Carpenter Complex.  Fan turnout was impressive but people were bundled up in jackets. 

National media turnout was also impressive: Jon Heyman (SI/MLB Network), Tom Verducci (SI/MLB Network); Scott Miller (CBSSports.com), Ed Price (aolfanhouse), Steve Henson (yahoosports.com) and Buster Olney (ESPN.com).

Which pitcher drew the most attention?

Easy guess, a right-hander named Halladay.  Pitchers are broken down into four groups of seven each; he’s in group 1 with Baez, Bastardo, Contreras, Madson, Mathieson and Moyer. Following the normal opening stretching exercises in right field of the Schmidt field, group 1 pitchers began long tossing. 

At 10:45 a.m., that group headed north for the seven mounds located between the Schmidt and Roberts fields.  The media mass of TV crews, photographers, writers, reporters, all migrated from the Schmidt right field to the mounds when Halladay headed that way.

Halladay was the first of the seven to grab a baseball, step on the mound and throw.  He was the focus of not only every media member but the pitching coaches, Charlie and front office staff.  The throwing session lasted 15 minutes. 

Group 2 followed with groups 3 and 4 on tomorrow’s schedule.

Position players who worked out at Bright House Field included Brown, Mayberry, Gillies, Bocock, Tracy, Utley and Polanco.

Alumni Memories
A daily feature will be spring training memories by Phillies Alumni, who were asked three questions:  (1) Memories of their very first spring training; (2) What they liked the most about spring training, and (3) What did they like the least.

Ozzie Virgil (C, 1980-85)
“With the Phillies minor league camp in 1977 in Clearwater. I remember I wore #44 but I didn’t have a roommate.  Lucky me.  What impressed me was how good every player was in camp.  I enjoyed being in Florida and working to become a better player.  Hardest part was seeing your friends get released and sent home.”



Day 1 Tomorrow

Day 1 of spring training 2010 officially begins at 10 a.m. tomorrow when 28 pitchers and 7 catchers work out for the first time.

Pitching coach Rich Dubee is also the camp coordinator.  He’s prepared a five-page schedule for Day 1, a routine he does daily.  Day 1 will end at 12:45 p.m. with conditioning for catchers on Ashburn Field.

Members of the media today included TV crews from 6, 29 and ComcastSportsNet (Philly) and channel 10 (Tampa-St. Pete); four newspapers, Inquirer, Daily News, Wilmington News Journal and Delaware County Daily Times and two websites, phillies.com (Todd Zolecki) and CSNPhilly.com (Jim Salisbury).  More media will be arriving tomorrow.  During the rest of the spring, media will be popping in and out.  The New York Times was here yesterday.

The Baseball Communications department handles all the media inquiry.  In an effort to make it convenient for some players and the media, group media briefings will be held during the early part of the camp.  Otherwise, the media would scramble for certain players and those players would wind up doing multiple interviews.  Brad Lidge was today’s subject; Cole Hamels, tomorrow and Roy Halladay after Friday’s workout. 

Similar briefings will be held when some of the position players arrive.  After that, it is business as usual with the media and players.

The media has clubhouse access beginning at 8 a.m. every day.  The clubhouse is closed around 9:15-9:30 .m. for brief meetings by Dubee or Charlie.  The clubhouse is open to the media again after the worktouts.

Alumni Memories
A daily feature right here will be spring training memories by Phillies Alumni, who were asked three questions:  (1) Memories of their very first spring training; (2)) What did they like the most about spring training, and (3) What did they like the least.

Ricky Jordan (1B, 1988-94)
“Clearwater, 1984, training with the Spartanburg Phillies.  Wore # 6.  Carpenter Field was so impressive.  I had no idea that many players would be there.  I always enjoyed and appreciated the hands-on instruction from the staff.  Didn’t like the long distance running they made us do every day.  And the food for lunch, soup, soup, soup.”



Kruk's Spring Training Memories

Last time I saw Citizens Bank Park, white snow blanketed the entire place.  Walking into Bright House Field this morning, one couldn’t help but notice the beautiful green grass.  Green is a color missing back in Philly these days.

Two days from now, pitchers and catchers will walk out the back door of Bright House Field and head for the Carpenter Complex.   Spring training 2010 will officially begin.

Many of the athletes are already here, working out informally.  Same goes for some minor leaguers at the Carpenter Complex.

Led by Ruben and Charlie a meeting was held at 9:30 this morning with the coaches and minor league staff that is in the big camp.  Rich Dubee is the camp coordinator and he reviewed the daily schedules. Head athletic trainer Scott Sheridan provided a medical update.  The annual Bill Giles camp golf tournament took place in the afternoon.  The meetings continue and conclude tomorrow morning. There’s a large meeting room on the second level of the re-built Paul Owens Training Facility building at Complex where the meetings are being held. 

Alumni Memories
Starting today, spring training memories from Phillies Alumni will be posted right here, Monday through Fridays.

Alumni were asked three questions: (1) Memories of your first spring training; (2) What did you like the most about spring training, and (3) What did you like the least.

John Kruk (1B, 1989-94)
“My first big league spring training was with the San Diego Padres in beautiful Yuma, AZ, in 1986. I was given number 44.  What I liked about spring training was getting together with the boys and having a great time on and off the field! What I disliked was everything else, meaningless games, it was way too long and boredom!!! My most memorable moment in my first spring was sitting in the clubhouse but manager Dick Williams didn’t show up. He decided to retire and forgot to tell the Padres.”



Spring Training Memories

This time of the year, I can’t wait for spring training.  After all the snow, that feeling has really escalated.  Let’s face it, I’m a lousy Eskimo.

The sounds of shovels, snow blowers, plows needs to be replaced by the crack of the bat, a fastball thumping into a catcher’s mitt and the voice of a Phillies announcer from Florida.

Going back many decades, I couldn’t wait for the sound of By Saam broadcasting a game from Jack Russell Stadium.  It meant good-bye to old man winter and hello Mr. Baseball.

Then, a few decades ago, I went to Clearwater for my first spring training with the Phillies.  Stayed at the Fort Harrison Hotel.  A card table in my room was my desk.  Portable typewriter and a hotel phone provided the equipment.  Needed to use a copying machine? Visit the hotel’s sales office.

Seeing Jack Russell Stadium for the first time was something I will always remember.  After years of visualizing the place, I was now there to work as a bright-eyed rookie. My job?  Didn’t know.  Learned something different every day as part of your basic on-the-job training.

We only had one field, the one at the stadium.  Workouts lasted all day.  Players stood around more than they were active.  Players were packed in a tiny clubhouse under the first base stands.  The manager’s office was not much bigger than a phone booth.  Rookies dressed in “rookie row”, a narrow row of narrow lockers on your left as you walked into the clubhouse.

Once the games began, it seemed like more fun.  Crowds were thin.  Never forgot my first game.  Cookie Rojas was the first batter and he grounded a ball back to the pitcher who overthrew the first baseman.  I jumped out of my metal folding chair, “Go, Cookie Go.”  The late Allen Lewis, a Hall of Fame writer with the Inquirer, grabbed me by the belt and yanked me back into the chair. “Sit down. Rule number one in the press box, no cheering.”  I don’t remember what I said but I never cheered in the press box again.

Alumni Memories

Starting Tuesday (16th), many of the Phillies Alumni will offer their spring training memories in this space.  Have been receiving some great, great memories.  I’m sure you will enjoy.

At the same time, Scott Palmer will provide video of Alumni memories on this site.  Scott will provide daily video updates from Clearwater. 

Your Memories

Before then, let me know your spring training memories…your first spring training, where you stayed, what impressed you the most, what didn’t you like, etc.   

Time to warm up and think baseball.