February 2012

Seminoles In Town

Happy birthday to anyone born on February 29.  Sorry to be so personal, but how old are you?

Today is game day with the Florida State Seminoles at Bright House Field.  While FSU practiced at the ballpark, the Phillies did their morning drills at Carpenter Complex. Short workout on Thursday followed by annual team golf outing, normal workout on Friday and then the Grapefruit League games begin.

Clearwater opener is Saturday vs. the Yankees, 1:05 p.m. WPHT and 94 WIP on Radio; Comcast SportsNet for TV.  Also on Major League Baseball Network and MLB.TV.

New Alumni Features
Check out www.phillies.com/alumni for a couple of new features.  One is a story about the Paul Owens memorial bronze bust that was unveiled earlier this week.

The second is a 40th anniversary story of the Rick Wise-Steve Carlton trade, one that wasn’t well received by Phillies fans.

Camp Notes
**Ed Wade arrived in camp.  He’s a special consultant to Ruben.  Ed’s roll will be to follow the Phillies, both on the major league and minor league levels down here.  He’s also assigned to the Orioles and Pirates big league clubs in spring training.  In season, scouting some big league teams and minor leagues, including the Phillies minor league players.

**Annual Major League Photo Day starts at 7 a.m. on Thursday.  MLB licensees, wire services and TV networks will have stations set up for the players to parade through.  Entire process takes nearly two hours.

**Thanks to all you Phillies Insider readers.  Among the MLB Pro blogs on MLB.com, the Insider ranked 12th in January.  Three below is Tommy Lasorda’s World.  Hard to believe we’ve finally passed him.  Guess next aim is #6, Baseball Nerd—Keith Olbermann.  May be tough to catch him.  He has a little more national exposure.

Spring Training Memories
Larry Christenson (RHP, 1973-83) 

  “It was 1973 with the Phillies in Clearwater. I was No. 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.”

More Alumni memories can be found at www.phillies.com/alumni.

Nearing End of Phase 1

End of the month and end of the pre-spring game workouts.  Ooops, leap year.  So there’s another day to February and two more days of workouts, Thursday and Friday.  Wednesday is a game day, well, sort of, as Florida State University and the Phillies play at 1 o’clock in the afternoon at Bright House Field.  Gates open at 10:30 a.m.

Bright sunshine greeted the players today at Carpenter Complex.  Same routine, exercises, long-tossing, fundamentals, batting practice and more conditioning.

From my experience, spring training has three phases: can’t wait to get here, can’t wait to start playing games, can’t wait to start the regular season.  We’re closing out phase one.

Streak Broken
Chris Wheeler, one of the Phillies TV broadcasters, will be behind the PA microphone on Wednesday.  As an assistant in PR 40 years ago, the PA announcer at Jack Russell Stadium didn’t show and I asked Wheels if he could do it. He didn’t hesitate. It started a long streak, not the same as Cal Ripken Jr.’s streak, however.

When the Phillies had a TV game, Wheels would switch booths, PA to TV, on the press box level.  That usually happened anywhere from three to six times a spring.

This spring every Bright House Field game will be on TV, either Comcast SportsNet, the Comcast Network or MyPhil.  So Wheels will not be heard at the ballpark.

All road games will be on radio, WPHT and 94WIP. 

Of course MLB.com TV is also a source for watching games and some games can also be heard on MLB.com.  ESPN will also televise three games from Clearwater.  Check out the spring training schedule on phillies.com for the dates.

Spring Training Memories
Ryan Howard
“Ten years ago in the minor league camp at Carpenter Complex.  Wore a high number, something like 65 or 72.  Let’s see a roommate?  Either Danny Gonzalez or Chris Roberson.  Remember going through a physical exam and then right out gate, a mandatory two-mile run.  If you didn’t do it in 16 minutes or less, you had to attend the breakfast club.  That meant you had to show up every morning at 6:30 and run two miles until you met the time limit.  I never made the breakfast club, fortunately.  Went from Clearwater to Lakewood.”

For Alumni spring training memories, check out www.phillies.com/alumni.


Sliding Practice

For the second straight day, hitters faced live pitchers (as opposed to coaches or pitching machines) during batting practice.  That was on the schedule from 11:25 a.m. until 11:50 a.m.  Then, coaches took turns throwing BP as Day 9 of spring training was held.

The day also included fundamentals, defensive discussions and the usual conditioning and long tossing programs.  Oh, some pitchers got to practice sliding under Perlozo’s instruction.  Then again, some pitchers will probably never get a chance to slide in a game.

Same schedule is on tap for Tuesday, 10 a.m. start.  Then, the Phillies play Florida State University at 1 p.m. at Bright House Field on Wednesday.  Thursday will be a shorter day with the annual golf tournament, a fun event, in the afternoon. Friday will be the final workout day.

The Grapefruit League scheduled starts on Saturday afternoon with the Yankees visiting Clearwater.

**Minor league managers, coaches and instructors report on Tuesday. 

**Shane is taping an MLB brand campaign TV/digital spot after today’s workout.

**FOX will have a crew here on Wednesday; ESPN on Friday.

Big News
According to the merchandise department at Citizens Bank Park, the Phanatic Beanie overtook the foam finger as the number one souvenir in 2011.

In the sale of jerseys and t-shirts, Lee was # 1, followed by Halladay and Pence.

Spring Training Memories
Dave Hollins (3B, 1990-95; 2002)
“1988 in Yuma, AZ, with the Padres minor league players.  We stayed at a Motel 6.  Can’t remember my uniform number but my teammate was Andy Skeels, a catcher. Being from Buffalo, this was my first time in the desert.  Boy, was it hot.”

For more Alumni memories check out www.phillies.com/alumni.

Full Squad Draws More Fans

Day 6 is the first full squad workout.  57 players on the fields at Carpenter Complex.  More players on the fields meant more fans wondering around the complex.  Many more fans.

The day started with exercises around 10:10 a.m.  Fundamentals, both in discussion form and on the field form, followed.  Pitchers did their usual long tossing program and groups 3-4 threw off the mound.  Groups 1-2 bunted in the indoor cages at Bright House Field.

During bunt defense drills on the Schmidt and Ashburn fields, everyone was involved, except Howard.  He stood off to the side as he’s not ready for a lot of activity.

Batting practice started right after noon on all four fields.  Fans love BP.

Hitting Groups
1—Galvis, Gillies, Lerud, Mayberry, Polanco, Schneider, Victorino.
2—Brown, Howard, Luna, Montanez, Pence, Pierre, Thome.
3—Garcia, Hernandez, Kratz, Nix, Podsednik, Utley, Wigginton.
4—Frandsen, Gosewisch, Martinez, Orr, Rollins, Ruiz, Valle.

Pitchers ended with conditioning at noon; hitters at 12:35 p.m.  The 10-a.m. to 12:45 p.m. routine will continue through Tuesday.

Prior to the Saturday and Sunday workouts, all players will be scheduled for dermatology exams, oral cancer screening and eye screening.

Majestic, manufacturer of the uniforms, will be there on Saturday morning to measure every player.  The order will include two home and two road uniforms for every player.  Extra pants for position players and for some starting pitchers, a third jersey.

Spring Training Memories
Ricky Bottalico (RHP, 1994-98; 2001-02)
“My first spring was 1992 with the Phillies minor leaguers. I lived in a small apartment near the bay with another pitcher, Dan Brown. I remember walking in the clubhouse at Carpenter Complex and seeing a No. 9 with my name on it hanging in a locker. I felt strange that first day because I really didn’t know most of the minor leaguers and there were a lot of them.
“I really loved spring training every year because I was getting out of cold weather and playing baseball. It was work but it was fun work. I enjoyed the rare chances we had to play some golf. What didn’t I like? My performance. I was a terrible, terrible spring training pitcher. I couldn’t get anyone out.”

More Alumni spring training memories can be found at www.phillies.com/alumni.

Day 5

All the position players are now in camp as scheduled.  Physicals are in order today.  All also took batting practice at Bright House Field.

Players have to be dressed at 9:15 a.m. Friday.  Introductions and Charlie’s state of the Phillies address are in order before the players head for the four fields at Carpenter Complex.  That should be around 10.  Workouts usually last until around 2 p.m.

Plenty of bleacher seats are available for fans to watch the practices.  Fan support so far has been great.  It will increase starting tomorrow and over the weekend.  Souvenirs and food options are available at Carpenter Complex.  The merchandise store at Bright House Field is open daily.

Pitchers did their thing again Thursday and will soon throw batting practice to the position players.

Chase met with the media after today’s workout . . . About 30 minor leaguers show up daily at Carpenter Complex to work out informally.  169 minor league players officially begin on March 1 . . . Mike Schmidt is expected in camp starting on Friday.

Spring Training Memories
Jack Baldschun (RHP, 1961-65)
 “My first camp was with the Reds minor leaguers in 1961 in Douglas, Georgia. My most vivid memory from that first year didn’t take place in uniform. I was from the North and experienced segregation for the first time. It was difficult to understand how blacks were treated. The next year, I was in the Phillies camp in Clearwater. I wanted to be a starter, Gene Mauch wanted me as the closer. I remember saying, ‘Let me start every fifth day and in between I can relieve.’ As you know, Gene didn’t go for it. Spring training was fun, being away from the winter, being in a warm climate and being with your teammates. I also enjoyed the fun we had with other families.”

For more Alumni memories, visit www.phillies.com/alumni.


Hitters Take BP

While Day 4 for pitchers and catchers followed the same schedule as the three previous days, a handful of position players took batting practice at Bright House Field.  More fans were there than at the complex.

Media mass also anchored itself at Bright House Field.  One of the hitters was Ryan Howard who is having a media conference in the afternoon.  His health will certainly be a hot topic in camp.

Tomorrow, all infielders and outfielders will undergo their physicals.  The first full workout will be at 10 a.m. on Friday at Carpenter Complex.  Well, it will be sometime after 10 because of front office introductions and Charlie’s annual speech.  He jots notes on a yellow pad but generally gets away from the written notes and shoots from the hip.

The MLB Network is in camp today for interviews.  As part of their 30 camps in 30 days schedule, they will return later for a full day . . . ESPN’s spring training bus tour will also make a Clearwater stop later . . . Ruben held a conference call with the Phillies pro scouts who are scattered across Florida and Arizona camps.  The call is held every Wednesday morning, except for off-season holidays . . . Papelbon is a cover photo subject for Sports Illustrated for Kids and South Jersey Magazine . . . Michael Barkann is doing double duty this week, his 94 WIP radio show from 10-11 every morning and then anchoring Daily News Live on Comcast SportsNet every afternoon at 5.

Spring Training Memories
Brian Schneider: “My first camp was 1996 with the Expos minor leaguers in Jupiter, FL.  I don’t remember my uniform number but my roommate was Michael Barrett.  We dressed in the Lantana High School football locker room.  It was very intimating because there was a sea of people in this small room with small lockers.

Alumni spring training memories can be found in www.phillies.com/alumni,

Hollywood Treatment

Shane got a “Hollywood” welcome when he walked into the Bright House Field clubhouse around 11 this morning.

He was “Shaun” on a recent Hawaii Five-O TV show.  With J-Roll as the choreographer, an 8-foot red carpet surrounded by lights led to a director’s chair which was in front of Shane’s locker.   The back of the chair said Shaun.  A gold star with an 8 on it was pasted on the wall above the locker.

“How does it feel to be Hollywood?,” asked J-Roll as a smiling Shane approached his locker.  J-Roll tweeted the grand entrance.  Howard walked in, laughed and said, “Can I get an autograph.”

Every Hollywood event has a production crew that puts things together.  Meet Frank Coppenbarger, Director, Team Travel and Clubhouse Services.  J-Roll talked to Frank on Monday asking for the materials (red carpet, lights, chair).  Guess it comes under “Services” which is part of his title.  “I’ve had a lot of requests from players and this was a first,” smiled Frank.

Check out phillies.com for video of the Hollywood treatment.

What numbers players wear also come under Frank’s jurisdiction. 

Papelbon wore #58 in Boston.  When an established player joins the Phillies, Frank gets right to work on the number.  Because of Papelbon’s stature, Frank wanted to give him #58, which Bastardo had been wearing.  “They have the same agent, so I offered the agent several numbers for Bastardo and he chose 37.  DeFratus wore that number when he came up to the majors last year but Bastardo had seniority so I talked to Justin and gave him some options.  He wanted 79 because he wore that the in the Arizona Fall League.”

Day 3 was pretty similar to the first two days.  Today groups 1 and 2 did their throwing off the mound . . . Halladay met with the media after the workout and Howard is scheduled for Wednesday afternoon . . . Nix, who plays LF, RF, CF and 1B, worked on the half field taking ground balls at first base . . . J-Roll later worked out on the same field . . . A bronze Paul Owens bust will be unveiled by the City of Clearwater and the Phillies at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday outside the clubhouse at Carpenter Complex . . . Mike Schmidt’s arrival in camp (he was due in Wednesday) is being delayed so he can attend the funeral of Gary Carter.

Spring Training Memories
Cliff Lee: “2001 in the Expos minor league camp in Jupiter.  My roommate was Shawn Hill but I don’t remember my uniform number.   I remember it was crowded because of the number of players.  On the first day, you don’t know what to expect.  You soon realize there’s a lot of talent in the room and they are just like me.”

For Alumni memories, visit www.phillies.com/alumni.

Day 2

That’s the header on Rich Dubee’s daily schedule: Day 2, February 20th.

Right now, the day begins at 8:30 and the workouts end around 12:45 p.m.  The 8:30 event is a meeting with all the catchers in the coach’s room, followed by a 9 a.m. meeting with pitchers.

The workout begins with exercises at 10 a.m. on the Schmidt field.  Pitchers are divided into four groups.  The workouts consist of bunting, holding runners on base, long tossing, throwing off the mound, an assortment of fielding drills and running (11:50 a.m.).  Then, the hurlers end their day with weight room conditioning.

Catchers continue a little longer: batting practice, fundamentals and running (12:45 p.m.).  Weight room conditioning follows.

Pitching Groups
1–Aumont, Diekman, Herndon, Kendrick, Lee, Pinero, Rosenberg, Schwimer.
2—Halladay, Horst, Hyatt, Purcey, Ramirez, Savery, Valdes.
3—Bastardo, Contreras, Elarton, Hamels, Qualls, Willis, Worley.
4—Blanton, Bush, DeFratus, Misch, Papelbon, Sanches. Stutes.

On Day 2, groups 3 and 4 threw off the seven mounds located between the Roberts and Schmidt fields.  “Eight minutes or 40 pitches, whichever comes first,” instructed Dubee.

Media members, instructors, scouts and baseball administration personnel observed.

About 10 position players took batting practice at Bright House Field while the pitchers did their thing at Carpenter Complex . . .  Later, Utley and Thome worked out with Perlozzo on the half field.  Then, Howard, in gym shorts and a sleeveless t-shirt took ground balls at first base.  Guess where the media mob parked itself . . . Comcast SportsNetwork’s Daily News Live is live every evening this week at 5 from Bright  House Field.

Phillies Coverage
Philly newspapers and TV crews are here but fans can follow the Phillies daily on phillies.com.  Todd Zolecki will again cover the news, tweet and facebook.  Scott Palmer will post video interviews on the site during the week.  And, Phillies Insider will post Monday through Thursday.

Spring Training Memories
Larry Andersen (RHP, 1983-86; 1993-94)
   “Let’s see, that was 1972 which means it was 40 years ago. And you want me to remember what? Heck, I can’t remember where I left my shoes when I get up every morning.
   “Well, it was in Tucson, Arizona and I was one of many minor leaguers with the Indians. We stayed at the Flamingo Hotel. At least I think so. I don’t remember my roommate. But I do remember my number, 112…I think.
   “I was nervous and scared and, after one day, fighting blisters from the Kangaroo spikes. What did I like? Absolutely nothing. I grew up in Washington (State) so the warm weather was nice. But I couldn’t handle the Arizona heat. I really struggled, especially all that running. I hated mornings. Getting up early and riding a bus for a few hours, that wasn’t fun. I slept through most of the bus rides; matter of fact, I slept through most of my spring trainings which was rather apparent if you saw me pitch.
   “I do remember being in the Mariners big league camp in 1981. Maury Wills was the manager. There was another pitcher in camp who looked like me, or so they say. Brian Allard. He was five years younger so I don’t know how we looked alike. I guess it was because we both had hair. Anyway, Maury got us mixed up. He’d call me Brian, and him, Larry. I was having a great spring, which was unusual. Brian was having a terrible spring. I was stressed out that Maury would pick him because he called him Larry. Happy ending, though. I made the club.”

For more Alumni memories, visit www.phillies.com/alumni







Camp Begins With A Meeting

In a large meeting room on the second floor of the Paul Owens Training Facility at Carpenter Complex, spring training 2012 started with an all-day meeting.  Outside, a morning mist turned into an afternoon rain.

Ruben and his staff, plus Charlie’s staff of eight, 11 from the minor league staff and nine from the athletic training staff filled the room.  Comments from Ruben and David Montgomery preceded a review of every one of the 57 players in camp.

Meanwhile at neighboring Bright House Field, several rookie and non-roster pitchers threw on the half field early in the morning; Jim Thome and Chase Utley hit in the cages; Carlos Ruiz, Cliff Lee, Brian Schneider, Hunter Pence and Ryan Howard unpacked their bags.

On Saturday, all pitchers (29) and catchers (6) will undergo physicals in the trainer’s room.  Jonathan Papelbon will have a mass interview following an unofficial workout.  Then, all will work out for the first time on Sunday morning (10 a.m.) at Carpenter Complex.  This is the Phillies 65th consecutive year of training in Clearwater.

Ryne Sandberg is being honored at the annual Clearwater For Youth banquet on Saturday night, an event the Phillies have participated in for over 40 years.

Back Home
Single game tickets went on sale at Citizens Bank Park on Thursday.  Fans arrived as early as Wednesday afternoon for the 8:30 Thursday morning opening of the ticket windows. 

Over 70,000 tickets were sold, pushing the season total to 3.1 million tickets.  Tickets are on sale 24 hours a day via phillies.com.

50 years ago at Connie Mack Stadium, the season total was 762,034.

New Alumni Page
After The Game, a newsletter about Phillies Alumni, is now on phillies.com: www.phillies.com/alumni.

Hope you check in there often.

Spring Training Memories
From time to time during spring training, we’ll post memories from the current players.

Today, Jim Thome:  “My first camp was with the Indians minor leaguers in 1990.  Tucson, Arizona.  I remember my number was 59.  I had a roommate, but darn I can’t remember his name. Walking into the clubhouse full of players was the start of a whole new experience.”

(Phillies Insider will be posted Monday through Friday, starting on Feb. 20).

Quiet For Now

Things were kind of quiet at Bright House Field on Wednesday, where the Phillies begin spring training again on Sunday.

Field supervisor Opie Cheek and his crew have done a terrific job with the fields.  Don’t know if grass can get any greener.  

57 lockers are in numerical order from # 3 (Pence) to #79 (DeFratus) in the clubhouse.  Oh, there are the usual familiar Phillies names, Howard, Rollins, Utley, Victorino, Hamels, Lee, Halladay and Ruiz.  There are a lot of names more familiar to Phillies fans in Lehigh Valley, Reading, Clearwater or Lakewood.

Then, big league names who’ll be wearing Phillies pinstripes for the first time, Papelbon, Thome, Pierre, Wigginton, Qualls, Willis, Pineiro.  OK, OK, Thome has worn the uniform before. 

Two indoor batting cages located under the left field stands were empty.  White baseballs dot the green Astroturf, lying there despite a big sign in red letters, Pick Up Baseballs When Finished.  Missing on the turf are empty sunflower seats, proving that someone pays attention to another big sign, No Sunflower Seeds.

In a storage room at the back end of the clubhouse was a lot of luggage waiting to be claimed by the players.  Two baby strollers, three bicycles and ten golf bags help fill the room.  None of those items belong to me!

Outside the ball park and at Carpenter Complex about a dozen Phillies fans were peeking from behind chain link fences, hoping to get a glimpse of one of the players and/or an autograph.  Fans show up as early as 6 a.m. seeking autographs.

With the return of Cliff Lee to the rotation, the Phillies were the major media story in spring training a year ago.  Chances are the masses won’t be there this spring.  The Tigers camp in Lakewood (Prince Fielder) will get a lot of media attention.  Out in Arizona, the Angels camp (Albert Pujols) will attract the masses.

Friday morning, Ruben, Charlie and their respective staffs, including minor league instructors in camp, will gather in the large meeting room on the second floor of the Carpenter Complex clubhouse.  They’ll spend most of the day discussing every one of the 58 players in camp. 

On Saturday, the same staffs will have a golf outing and then on Sunday, the 10 a.m. daily workouts get underway at Carpenter Complex.  Can’t wait to hear the first pop of a catcher’s mitt.