February 2011

Early Arrival

Somebody finally beat Roy Halladay to the ballpark this morning!

Ed Pendino, a Tampa-based radio engineer, arrived at Bright House Field at 3:45 a.m. to set-up a 94 WYSP radio broadcast featuring former Partridge Family actor, Danny Bonaduce. Danny flew to Clearwater on Sunday to spend a couple days broadcasting from the ballpark’s infamous Tiki Bar. If you want to catch his show in Philly, he’s on again Tuesday starting at 5:30 a.m. Cole, Ryan (Madson) and Chris Wheeler will be joining him on his show.

Bonaduce is an interesting story and a lifetime Phillies fan.  When he was four, the family moved from Philly to LA because dad took a job as a writer on the Dick Van Dyke Show.  Danny’s older siblings were big fans of Philadelphia sports teams and Danny followed suit.  While David Cassidy would wear a Mets jersey on the set of the Partridge Family, Danny countered with a Phillies jersey.

After 30 years in tinsel town, Danny moved back to Philly in the fall of 2008 in time to see the World Series parade.  He began his gig on WYSP early in 2009 and has been doing his show from Clearwater every spring. 

On Tuesday, he will throw out the first ball at Bright House Field.

Several other Philly area radio stations will also have shows live from Clearwater next month.  More information with be forthcoming.

Today, the Phillies played in nearby Dunedin, about a 10-minute bus ride.  They took BP at Bright House Field before boarding an 11:30 a.m. bus for the best kind of road trip, a short one.

The Oak Ridge Boys will sing the Anthem on Tuesday (Tigers at Bright House Field). Jon Bonsall and Richard Sturbin, half of the quartet, are native Philadelphians and huge Phillies fans.  They are performing Tuesday night in Lakeland . . . Tuesday’s 1 p.m. game will be televised in Philly on The Comcast Network (Tom McCarthy, Gary Matthews and Chris Wheeler) . . . Game can also be seen on MLB.com.

 A Fan Wanted to Know…..
“What is a “B” game? “How is it different from a split-squad game?”  “Are the rules different?” “Do the Phillies have a “B” game schedule?”

Spring training schedules are determined 3-4 months in advance.  To fill open dates, teams will schedule a split-squad game at a ballpark.  Admission is charged and the outcome is counted in the win-loss record. The Phillies will have a split squad on Sunday (home with the Rays; in Lakeland vs. the Tigers).

With a large number of pitchers needing game experience early in major league camps, teams will schedule “B” games, sometimes only couple of days in advance.  Games are played in the morning (either in a ballpark or a minor league training complex).  Stats aren’t kept and often times the number of innings can vary.  Pitching coaches and hitting coaches keep charts of the number of inning pitched or at-bats and “B” games do figure in those charts.

Because of their close proximity, the Phillies and Blue Jays will often schedule “B” games. They met on Friday morning at Bright House Field and have scheduled another on Wednesday (10 a.m.), this time at the Carpenter Complex.

(John Brazer, Phillies Director of Publicity, contributed today’s blog.  John didn’t mention it but he also arrived at the ballpark this morning to provide guests for the WYSP show.  Seeing the sun rise over the right field wall is special, if you like getting up that early).


Grind Starts Saturday

A shorter workout this morning was followed by the annual team golf tournament.  Time for a little change and fun.  Then, after today, the grind starts.  Where and when that ends nobody knows.  Everyone in Phillies nation is figuring the end won’t happen until the World Series is over.

With a roster pretty well set, there’s not much drama.  Oh, right field and the bullpen is yet to be determined.  And, a bench player.  Versatility there might be the most important tool when it comes to that bench position.  Wilson Valdez, who filled in so well a year ago in the infield, will get some exposure in the outfield, Charlie has said.  Michael Martinez, a Rule 5 draftee as an infielder, will also see some time in the outfield.  Non-roster Delwyn Young has played both the infield and outfielder.

Phillies have two games on tap for Saturday, a 10 a.m. “B” game against the Blue Jays at Bright House Field (free admission/gates open at 9:30) and a 1 p.m. game in Tampa against the Yankees, the start of the Grapefruit League schedule.  Those two teams meet on Sunday in Clearwater.  Both games will be broadcast on 1210 AM (The Big Talker), the Phillies radio network and MLB.com.

Sunday, the Phillies scouting coverage of spring training camps will begin.  Mike Ondo, Director of Professional Scouting, will have every camp covered.  That means major league scouts Howie Freiling, Dave Hollins, Jim Fregosi Jr. and Gordon Lakey will leave the Phillies camp for their assignments.  Pat Gillick, Dallas Green and Charley Kerfeld will remain in Clearwater.

Back at Citizens Bank Park, work continues in preparation for the March 29-30 On-Deck Series (Pirates) and the April 1 season opener (Astros).

Installation of the new video board, which includes a closed-captioning display, is moving along as is the floor coating in the seating bowl.  TVs are being replaced throughout the ballpark.  Exhaust ducts of the various food areas are being cleaned, elevators are being checked and electricians are powering up the concessions stands.  Bram Reynolds, who oversees the maintenance of the ballpark, simply put is best, “The ballpark is starting to wake up.”

Comcast SportsNet taped a special show with the Phillies five starters during the early days of the camp.  It will be aired for the first time at 10:30 p.m. on Sunday . . . Every spring training game will be on the air in some fashion, including 15 games that will be broadcast on MLB.com.  Fans can subscribe for audio and TV on this website . . . ESPN will televise the March 21 (Red Sox) and March 25 (Braves) from Bright House Field . . . Pat Gillick is being honored on Saturday night at the annual Clearwater For Youth banquet. Gillick is being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Coopeerstown, NY, this summer.


Play Ball!

It’s game day!  Just six days after the full squad reported, the Phillies are facing a team with different uniforms.  The Florida State University Seminoles arrived this morning with a traveling party of more than 60.  It’s much larger than they would bring for a road game during their season.  But who can blame them for wanting to bring as many people as possible to watch the four-time Eastern Division Champions at Bright House Field.   During the Phillies morning BP, a gaggle of FSU players surrounded the batting cage to watch Ryan and his teammates.

The Phillies clubhouse had a few more smiles this morning.  When the games begin, it means the players no longer have to go through the same routine of drills that have occupied their days for the last week.  Veterans can count on playing early, before heading to the showers and then to their favorite golf course or back to the beach condo with their families.
Today’s game isn’t being broadcast on radio or television, but the highlights will be all over the place.  MLB Network called this morning to make sure we will have our phillies.com camera taping the game.  There is increased interest because this is the first game being played this spring by any Major League team, in either Arizona or here in Florida. 

Game highlights and player interviews will be on this site later this evening. Tonight’s video feed will also include a one-on-one interview with Doc Halladay.

Happy Spring Opening Day everybody!   

Phillies and Blue Jays will play a “B” game at 10 a.m. Saturday at Bright House Field; gates open at 9:30 and there is no admission charge . . . That morning, another group of Phillies will bus to Tampa for their Grapefruit League opener against the Yankees.  Same two teams open the Bright House Field portion of the spring training schedule on Sunday afternoon.  Scott Franzke and Larry Andersen will broadcast both Yankee games on 1210 AM, The Big Talker, and MLB.com . . . Cliff Lee did an interview with ESPN The Magazine today . . . Baseball America’s top 100 prospects for 2011 has come out and the Phillies have four: OF Domonic Brown (4th), OF Jonathan Singleton (36th), RHP Brody Colvin (56th) and RHP Jarred Cosart (70th).  Singleton is 19 years of age, Colvin and Cosart, 20.

(Scott Palmer contributed to today’s blog)


Another day, another photo op

Another picture perfect Clearwater day brought more picture takers.  The starting rotation was  the focus of  USA Today and Sports Illustrated.  Legendary SI photographer Walter Ioss was here for S.I.  A couple of years ago Walter did a cover shoot with Cole Hamels.  He needed  wide angle lens for this year’s photo op.
Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt has appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated.  Michael Jack is in camp and today he met with the media (interview will be on phillies.com).  Asked to comment on the possibility that Albert Pujols might wind up playing somewhere other than St. Louis, Schmitty said that looking back he is very happy to have started and ended his Major League career in a Phillies uniform and still have a great relationship with the ball club.  Michael is here as a special guest instructor.

Yesterday, there was an oddity on the Mike Schmidt field at the Carpenter Complex.  He was behind the cages while another Hall of Famer, Ryne Sandberg, was throwing batting practice. Last time the Phillies had a pair of Hall of Famers on one field at the Carpenter Complex was Richie Ashburn’s last spring training.
Michael Jack will also play in the team’s annual golf tournament on Friday.  A hotly-contested draft to select the tournament teams was held this morning in the coaches’ meeting room.  Sorry, ESPN did not cover the draft.

Michel Jack is such a good golfer that for a time he considered playing on what is now the Champions Tour.  As a team captain he drafted Cliff and RubenRyan Madson was also a captain and made the only trade during the draft.  To get fellow reliever Dan Meyer, Madson traded away radio voice Scott Franzke to the team captained by bullpen coach Mick Billmeyer, who is obviously looking for more air time during Phillies broadcasts.  Check this blog on Monday to see which Phillies team came away with the victory. 

Front office executives and a small group of players will attend a Clearwater Chamber of Commerce reception in the Bright House Field suite level following Thursday’s game against Florida State University.  The reception is an annual event . . .While tickets are going like hot cakes in Clearwater, not all the games at Bright House Field are sold out.  Plenty of tickets remain for March 1, 3, 8 and 28 . . . Approximately 50 minor league players were in the Paul Owens Clubhouse at the Carpenter Complex even though the minor league camp doesn’t officially open until March 3 . . . Sarge and J-Roll are invited to the White House on Thursday by the President for the Motown Tribute.

New No. 1
For the first time at Citizens Bank Park, the number 1 souvenir sold last year was Silly Bandz.  That item surpassed the seven-time champion Foam Finger in terms of sales for a single season.  The Silly Bandz rise to the top isn’t a stretch.

(Scott Palmer again contributed to the blog today).


Michael Jack in camp

A familiar face roamed the Carpenter Complex fields today on another picture perfect day in Clearwater.   Phillies Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt checked into camp, as always looking tanned and relaxed.  Michael Jack is a special guest instructor.   He will be here until March 5th giving him a chance to not only watch our lineup in the batting cage, but just like everybody else, check out our starting rotation.
All of the players were at Bright House Field early this morning because it was photo day, another ritual of spring training.  But not everyone smiled for the camera.  Joe Blanton said he likes his baseball card to look serious.  Smiling and posing, however, was no problem for Ryan Howard.  Tongue firmly in cheek, the Big Piece talked with phillies.com about his fondness for the camera.  This year Ryan said he was going for a look he called “Professionally Sexy”.  A combination of soft and super sensitive for the fans.  You can watch Ryan strike a pose tonight on this site.
Big crowds continue to be the rule of the day. Most of the “snowbirds” from up north were talking about their beloved Phillies and also the most recent snowfall they missed back in the Delaware Valley.  Their attention was on Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt, and Joe, who threw their scheduled batting practice sessions.  Lee looked great, by the way, throwing all of his pitches. 
When the pitchers weren’t on the mound they were taking part in another ritual of spring training, sliding practice.  To make this as safe as possible they slid in their socks, and over a padded surface.  Still, pitching coach Rich Dubee admits that he held his breath until everyone was finished.  By the way, Closer Brad Lidge sat this one out, serving as a judge.
The MLB Network called asking if phillies.com would be sending up highlights of Thursday’s game against Florida State University on the satellite.  They are interested because it’s the first organized spring training game by any Major League team.  And, the answer is yes we will have it, and you can see it Thursday evening on this site.

Let the games begin!

A couple of years ago, the Phillies played FSU whose catcher was a kid named Buster Posey, now a member of the World Champion Giants . . . Videos that will appear this evening on phillies.com include Photo Day and interviews with Charlie and David Herndon . . . Doesn’t look as if there will be intra-squad games this year with FSU on Thursday, a shortened workout day on Friday (players’ annual golf outing) and the start of the Grapefruit League on Saturday.

(Scott Palmer contributed to today’s blog).



Busy morning…off the field

Players were walking up and down the hallways of Bright House Field on a very busy Monday morning off the diamond. 

The crew that televises Phillies games was set up in the media room where pitchers and hitters posed for the videos and interviews that you will see during the season on Comcast SportsNet and MYPHL 17.   

At the same time Majestic, the official uniform supplier of the Phillies, had a crew in the  equipment room.   A steady stream of players stopped by to be fitted for their 2011 uniforms.  Frank Coppenbarger, who runs the Phillies Clubhouse, says baseball fashion has changed over the years.  Gone are tight fitting pants, replaced by much baggier ones.  Also, the pants drop down over the tops of their cleats so no socks ever show.
The players also heard from nutritionist, Katie Cavuto.  Katie always has the latest information on what to eat and how much so the players can fuel their bodies for peak performance.  The Major League Baseball Players Association also had a presence here today.  In the lunchroom the marquee players stopped by for head scans that will be used in baseballs newest video games.
The starting pitchers continue to be the subjects of photo ops.  On Sunday, the five starters had a session in the Carpenter Complex batting cages for the Phillies Magazine cover in April. Today, New York Times Magazine photographed the four starters (no Joe).   On Wednesday, the same four will be photographed for Sports Illustrated (2 p.m.) and USA TODAY (3 p.m.)  All 59 players will go through photo day Tuesday morning for media and licensees.  Generally 8-10 stations are set up in the indoor batting cages and outside starting at 7 a.m.

Media opportunities should slow down as the Phillies look ahead to their first game, Thursday afternoon, against Florida State University.

Mike Schmidt’s arrival was delayed until Tuesday . . . First Grapefruit League game is Saturday afternoon, the Yankees in Tampa . . . Same teams meet Sunday at Bright House Field.  Both games will be broadcast on 1210 AM, the Big Talker and the Phillies radio network.

(Scott Palmer contributed to today’s blog).

Full squad on tap Saturday

This was the last day before Saturday’s full squad reporting day, even though the lineup has already been here for most of the week.  Saturday morning is also the annual spring training clubhouse meeting.  The doors will be closed to the media as the players hear from Ruben and Charlie. Expect the skipper to once again challenge his players to work hard and never stop learning about the game.  He will also motivate the younger guys who weren’t with the club last year to play well enough that they force him to make some tough roster decisions.

Then, 59 players will head out the back door of Bright House Field for the four fields at the Carpenter Complex.  They’ll work out from about 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. each day this weekend.  Live batting practice may enter the picture on Sunday. 
On the schedule for next week is Photo Day on Tuesday morning.  That’s when photographers from Philadelphia area newspapers, wire services and licensees will set up stations in the indoor batting cages at Bright House Field.

Among the licensees will be the baseball card companies. You know, those are the cards we older fans put on the spokes of our bike wheels.  Now they’re safely secured in sealed notebooks and appraised for their value.  On that subject what do you think a Dominick Brown rookie card will sell for twenty years from now?  Probably a lot.
Raul Ibanez will have a new look on his card.  Raul now has a full black beard to go with his shaved head.  Ryan Howard told him this morning that it looks like he’s escaped from prison.  He said, “Hey Raul, even your whiskers look mean!”
After today’s workout, the starting pitchers headed for the golf course where they met up with John Smoltz.  The former Braves ace is still an excellent golfer, and their day on the course was taped for a future airing on MLB Network.   Bragging rights were on the line so you can expect some serious trash talking tomorrow when the full squad officially reports for spring training..

Mike Schmidt begins a two-week stint as a guest instructor on Saturday . . . Larry Bowa will be signing autographs from 12 noon to 1 p.m. Saturday in the Majestic Clubhouse Store at Citizens Bank Park . . . 3.3 million tickets have been sold after a record 70,000 tickets were purchased Thursday, the first day of individual game ticket sales.  15 of the 81 home games are sold out  . . . If you are in the Clearwater area, there’s a Big East/Big Ten challenge baseball doubleheader on Saturday at Bright House Field; Ohio State vs. Louisville at 4 p.m.; Iowa vs. Pittsburgh at 7:30 p.m.

(Scott Palmer contributed to the blog today. Be sure to watch his video interviews from Clearwater on phillies.com, Monday through Friday.  Phillies Insider will return on Monday). 

Utley meets with media

The great run of spectacular weather continues in Clearwater.

Chase Utley took advantage by meeting with all of the media down the left field line at Bright House Field.  Chase was asked about the great response today as single game tickets went on sale up north.  He praised the passion of the Phillies fans and said he and his teammates are looking forward to once again playing in front of sold out crowds at home.  You can see the Utley interview later tonight on phillies.com., along with a feature on the new Lehigh Valley IronPigs manager and Hall of Fame second baseman, Ryne Sandberg.

Did you know that there are only two players to play in the major leagues with the first name, Ryne? And, both played for the Phillies. The other was a pitcher, the late Ryne Duren, who was with the Phillies from 1963-65.

The position players aren’t the only ones who have shown up early.  Broadcasters Larry Andersen and Gary (Sarge) Matthews and Chris Wheeler are all in camp.  LA spent the morning watching the pitchers, while Sarge, to no one’s surprise, finds a seat in the dugout at Bright House Field where the hitters are doing their thing.

Reliever David Herndon is the proud owner of a new guitar.  The right-hander has been playing for about four years but this is his first electric guitar and amp.  He bought it yesterday in Clearwater and it’s made by a company called Ibanez.  No relation to Raul Ibanez, and for the record it’s pronounced EEE’-BEN-EZ.  Ironically Raul also plays guitar and last year picked up his own Ibanez model.

The latest photo shoot in camp is Philly Magazine. Cliff Lee will be on the cover of the April issue which will also feature an interview with Ruben.

Friday’s the last day before all 59 players will work out as a unit.  The 10 a.m. workouts at Carpenter Field are open to fans.  Starting on Saturday, all four diamonds at Carpenter Field will be used.  Plenty to see for fans.


New Arrivals

Another Chamber of Commerce day in Clearwater and another day of early arrivals.  Ryan Howard, Shane Victorino,  Placido Polanco, and Wilson Valdez were among the position players who reported ahead of schedule.  Everyone is talking about rededicating themselves to the same goal, a season that ends with something special.
Camera’s are everywhere.  Tomorrow a crew from Philly Magazine will be in camp.  They will do a photo shoot with Cliff Lee and Ruben Amaro Jr.  The magazine’s April issue will be devoted to the Phillies.  It will include a feature on Ruben and also be devoted to our great fans. 
From the first day of camp Dallas Green has been met with well wishers expressing their condolences on the tragic passing of his granddaughter Christina Green.  This morning the Phillies Senior Adviser to the General Manager made himself available to the media and was eloquent in his remarks.
Daily News Live continues broadcasting live from Bright House Field on Comcast SportsNet.  Tonight’s guests include David Montgomery, Rich Dubee and Chase Utley.  Air time each day through Friday is 5 p.m.

Today’s menu of video feeds for phillies.com includes Polanco and Charlie.

Individual tickets go on sale Wednesday morning . . . First day of the full squad workout is Saturday . . . Photo day for the media is Tuesday . . . First game is February 24 against Florida State.

(Scott Palmer contributed to today’s blog).


Calmer Day 2

After yesterday’s news conference with RCRCJ which brought a swelling of media, including the national types, to Clearwater, today’s clubhouse scene was more like the early days of spring training. 

Sports Illustrated Senior Writer and MLB Network contributor John Heyman spent most of the morning’s media availability interviewing Lidge.  At the other end of the room home clubhouse manager Phil Sheridan was getting ready for another day in the laundry room.  Yep, a Notre Dame grad washes clothing. Before the team heads north Phil will go through about thirty-five giant boxes of detergent, big enough to double as dog houses.  According to Phil, he starts the washing machines at about 11 o’clock every morning and they aren’t finished cleaning all of the uniforms until five hours later.  He estimates that before the 2011 season is over he will do 3,000 loads of laundry. 

While Phil is scrubbing, the Fightin’s were busy at Carpenter Field getting all of those uniforms dirty.  Today, groups 2 and 3 saw their first action on the bullpen mounds.  That meant Cliff  threw for the first time along with Roy-O and Joe. 

The players are taking advantage of Chamber of Commerce weather in this beautiful Gulf Coast City.  Temperatures are in the lower 70’s and forecast to climb about two degrees every day until the weekend.  And there’s no rain in sight.

Good conditions for hitting.  Domonick Brown and John Mayberry Jr. put on a long ball show during batting practice at Bright House Field.  One could only hope the alligator that lives in a pond beyond the right field wall was wearing a batting helmet.

Comcast SportsNet is spending this week in camp. Yesterday, they taped two exclusive shows with RCRCJ that will air on Sunday night (20th) and Sunday, the 27th.  Michael Barkann is hosting Daily News Live from Bright House Field from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Phillies In The Community
Cliff ended his workout today by showing his charitable side.  Cliff and his wife, Kristen, are supporting the Ronald McDonald House Charities telethon which will be broadcast live on KYW-TV (CBS) on March 15.  The first 20 viewers who make a contribution of $750 or more during the telethon will have the chance to meet Cliff on May 25, provided he’s not pitching that day.  If he is, an alternate date will be chosen.  Those 20 people will also have lunch in the Phillies executive dining room and take in a game.  The Public Service Announcement, featuring Cliff, was taped today.  It will begin airing on KYW soon to encourage telethon tune-in.

Videos on phillies.com today will feature Kendrick, Charlie and J. C. Romero . . . Voting for the Phillies Wall of Fame for 2011 is underway today on phillies.com.  Fans can vote through March 15. Mike Lieberthal and Curt Schilling are the new names on the 12-Alumni ballot . . . Dallas Green met with the media on Wednesday morning. Bonnie Clark (VP of Communications) had received numerous requests for Dallas following the tragic death of his granddaughter, Christina Green.  Dallas felt the best approach was to do one group session with the media early in spring training . . . Larry Bowa will sign autographs from 12 noon to 1 p.m. this Saturday in the Majestic Clubhouse Store at Citizens Bank Park . . . Mitch Williams was the guest speaker at the Distributors, Inc., meeting this morning in the Diamond Club.

(Scott Palmer and Bonnie Clark contributed to this blog today).