February 2014

RIP Jim Fregosi

Thomas frergosi gilesSo shocked and saddened with the passing of Jim Fregosi, a friend. With his vibrant personality, Jim made friends wherever he went.

There are so many memories of Jim. Probably the one that stands out happened in the Executive Dining Room at the Vet years ago. We were having lunch before a trade announcement. I brought up some questions he may get asked. He slid his reading glasses to the end of his nose, looked me in the eye and said, “Baron, I don’t need your coaching.” He was right.

Scouting for the Braves, he was a frequent visitor at Bright House Field during spring training. It was an easy trip as he lived about 10 miles away. Walking into the media lunchroom, you could hear Jim holding court at one of the round tables. He was never sitting alone. Never. It was an empty feeling walking into that room this morning, looking over where he used to sit and realizing the table will now be empty.

When we saluted the 1993 NL champions during Alumni weekend last year, Jim arranged his scouting schedule to be there. He loved his players and they loved him back. Seemed as if he was laughing all weekend long. He really enjoyed being with his team. Never thought that would be the last time he would be with the bunch.

Seven years ago, he delivered a eulogy at John Vukovich’s memorial service. We cried then. Now, we’re crying again. Yes, there is crying in baseball.

Day 1 Done

On a breezy, 56-degree day, spring training officially got underway this morning.

Twenty-eight pitchers and six catchers left the Bright House Clubhouse around 10 and headed for the four diamonds on at Carpenter Complex. Usual stretching and long tossing were the first order of business.

Pitchers are divided into four groups. Groups 1 and 2 threw off the seven mounds. Other two groups will do the same tomorrow.

Biggest attention-getter this morning was Miguel Gonzalez. At one point, 20 people—coaches, Green, Gillick, Wade, Kerfeld, minor league instructors—were all eyes on the right-hander. Included were Larry Andersen and Roy Halladay, guest instructors. First typo of the spring was Andersen’s jersey….Anderson. It was immediately corrected.

Meanwhile, a large group of position players took batting practice at Bright House Field. Their first official day is Tuesday.

Workout ended at 1:30. Ruben and his staff, Ryne and all the coaches and instructors then met at Carpenter Complex. Last fall, the Phillies had an organization meeting which included discussion and direction for the various disciplines of the game. For the next six days, this group will meet to review and fine-tune the topics. Today’s topic was catching.

Comment Corner
Appreciate the comment from Steve, a long-time reader, about the list of alumni announcers in yesterday’s post. Source for the list was the Phillies media guide so I’ll have to check on the other names Steve mentioned.

Praying For Fregosi
Our thoughts and prayers are with Jim Fregosi and his family. We all learned yesterday Jim suffered a stroke while on a cruise. Jim resides in nearby Tarpon Springs, FL, and was a frequent visitor at Bright House Field, scouting for the Braves.

In the past year, the 1993 team has taken a hit….cancer for Daulton, Pratt and Schilling and now Jim.

Jeter To Retire
Derek Jeter announced he’s retiring at the end of this season. He’ll have an emotional-farewell tour.

The Phillies don’t play A. L. east teams this year so the only chance we will have at seeing him one last time is this spring training. The Phillies and Yankees play three times, one at Bright House Field (March 6). Hopefully, he’ll make that short trip from Tampa. It would be neat for Phillies fans to salute him.

J-Roll will become the longest-tenured shortstop next season.

Tyler Kepner of the New York Times wrote an interesting article about Jeter, the fifth player selected in the first round of the 1992 draft. Houston, Cleveland, Montreal, Baltimore and Cincinnati all passed on Derek, who has been on five World Series champions. None of those five teams has won a world title since.

Spring Training Fun Fact
Lunch for players in spring training in 1947 consisted of one sandwich and one small milk. Today, a chef from Lenny’s Restaurant serves breakfast in the Bright House Field clubhouse lunch room every morning starting at 6.

P-C Begin Tomorrow


More meetings this morning, golf in the afternoon and then it all starts tomorrow for pitchers and catchers.

It was strange seeing Roy Halladay sitting in the room yesterday morning when Ruben and Ryne began a day-long meeting. When Doc walked in, Bowa asked, “Sure you can’t pitch this season?” Doc smiled, “I’m pretty sure.” Doc will be in camp for a couple of weeks working with pitchers.

Ruben said he and Ryne brought in Doc along with Sarge, LA, Hollins and Lidge for a purpose, to individually work with the players

Ryne spoke about his passion for the game and playing the game right. There will be some changes in the way the players go about things from Day 1. A fresh new approach is in store. Daily spring training schedule comes under third base coach Pete Mackanin.

Ryne relayed a story about his first experience with the Phillies. “Thirty-five years ago I was here in the minor league camp for first time. Stayed at the Days Inn up the road. Took the first morning bus to this complex. Got off the bus and there was Pete Rose hitting in the cages. I’m 19 years old. I just stood and watched. He never swung and missed. Never hit the ball on the ground. Line drives after line drives into the netting. I thought you can be the best you want to be, but never be out-worked.”

First workout begins at 10 a.m. tomorrow at Carpenter Field. Daily practices are open to the public, free admission and free parking.

Tomorrow is also the first day individual game tickets go on sale at Citizens Bank Park and phillies.com.

Alumni Announcers
As has been reported Jamie Moyer and Matt Stairs are the new TV announcers, joining Tom McCarthy. First Grapefruit League game (Blue Jays at Bright House Field) is two weeks away and that’s the first telecast.

Who have been other Alumni to appear in the Phillies broadcast booth? Gee, glad you asked.

Richie Ashburn was the first, starting in 1963. Since then, Robin Roberts, Tim McCarver, Garry Maddox, Mike Schmidt, Jim Fregosi, Jay Johnstone, Kent Tekulve, Larry Andersen, John Kruk and Gary Matthews.

Repeating a note from ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark: This is the first season since 1962 that Ashburn, Harry Kalas or Chris Wheeler has not been part of the broadcasting team.

Did You Know?
Kalas’ first game as a broadcaster with the Houston Colt 45s was 1965, the inaugural game in the Astrodome. The opponent? The Phillies.

Spring Training Fun Fact
The Phillies have been training in Clearwater, FL, since 1947. What team did they replace?

Check out http://www.phillies.com/alumni for a feature that explains how the Phillies landed in Clearwater and a list of other spring training sites.

Jack Russell Memorial Stadium (pictured above) is one of three parks the Phillies have had in Clearwater.

Top Citizens Bank Park Moment?

10YearFINAL0413Neat plans for celebrating 10 years at Citizens Bank Park. You have a week to prepare your top 10 moments and then you can vote on this website (February 18 through March 14). Will be interesting to see the choices.

Gee, wonder what will be the greatest moment. Probably the same as the top moment at Veterans Stadium during the first 10 years there.

Camp News
Unofficial workouts among players again on another sunny day. Players are eager and anxious and that’s good.

Pitchers and catchers officially report on tomorrow and take physicals. First workout for that group is Thursday, same day that individual game tickets go on sale for Citizens Bank Park games.

First full squad workout is a week from today.

Larry Bowa was the first to visit the trainer’s room. Got hit on the left temple by Roly deArmas’ fungo bat yesterday. No stitches needed, just butterfly bandage.

Valentine’s Day
Looking for a perfect gift for your sweetheart?

Phillies tickets, Phanatic dangle hat, red Phillies cap, Phillies chapstick or be a big spender, airline tickets to Clearwater. Just don’t pack any snow in your suitcase.

Schilling Tweet
“Very overwhelmed at the well wishes and prayers. Bless all of you. No pity or sympathy needed, I’ve been beyond blessed. I’m ready for this.”

Spring Training Fun Fact
70 years ago the Phillies held spring training in Wilmington, DE. Government transportation department prohibited teams from training in the south during WW II.

Alumni Notes
New edition is posted on http://www.phillies.com/alumni

Just look for Charlie Manuel’s photo.

Early Birds

No speeding tickets, no flat tires. Yep, the “Clearwater or bust” equipment truck made it to Bright House Field on Saturday. The empty truck headed for Alabama for a load that needed to go back north.

Clearwater mayor George Cretekos even helped unload the truck.

Scott Palmer’s video feature about the arrival appears on this website, if you haven’t seen it. Scott will be posting video features throughout spring training. Beat writer Todd Zolecki will be filling daily stories, tweeting, facebooking and blogging. Phillies Insider is now Monday through Friday (Hey, senior citizens get weekends off). Still photography by Miles Kennedy.

Phillies.com is your place for Phillies spring training complete and comprehensive coverage.

Early Birds
Something like 36 players worked out today.

10 .m. scene had Larry Bowa, arms folded, standing near third base watching Cody Asche taking ground balls on the half-field. Mickey Morandini and Roly deArmas took turns hitting grounders with Ryne Sandberg observing at home plate.

First basemen were Ryan Howard and Darrin Ruf. Reid Brignac and Andres Blanco were also working out on the same field.

Ruben Jr. will oversee a meeting in the second-floor meeting room at Carpenter Complex starting at 11 a.m. His staff, Ryne and his coaches and all extra instructors, athletic trainers, clubhouse personnel and front office executives will be in the meeting.

“Meat” of the meeting is a discussion of every player in camp. Health issues, if there are any, will be brought to everyone’s attention.

Wednesday is a half-day with Bill Giles’ annual golf outing for the staff taking place in the afternoon

Prayers and Thoughts
Everyone with the Phillies sends their heartfelt thoughts to Curt Schilling, who let it be known he is battling cancer.

Curt is the fourth from the 1993 NL championship club with cancer issues, John Kruk, Todd Pratt and Darren Daulton.

Birthday Boys
Today: LHP Larry McWilliams (60), OF Lenny Dykstra (51), C Lenny Webster (49), INF Kevin Sefcik (43) . . . Tomorrow: OF Ollie Brown (70) . . . Wednesday: Ruben Amaro Jr. (49), RHP Dennis Springer (49) . . . Thursday: SS Kevin Stocker (44), LHP Mike Mimbs (45) . . . Friday: INF Larry Milbourne (58) . . .Sunday: C Barry Foote (62).

Spring Training Fun Fact
Well, 50 years ago, my first spring training. All of us—five from the front office, players, coaches, manager, writers and broadcasters—stayed at the Jack Tar Hotel. Players without their families roomed with another teammate.

10 Years Ago
Citizens Bank Park was undergoing finishing touches at this time of the year while Veterans Stadium was prepping for implosion in March. For a vintage aerial photo of the two facilities check out http://www.phillies.com/alumni

Now He’s The Act

Remember when Charlie Manuel became Phillies manager? Early-on critics said he didn’t know how to manage. Well, he managed his way into the Wall of Fame.

Toyota Alumni weekend has become a very popular event for fans and our former players. It certainly will continue that way. Charlie will be here and so will a new, younger generation of Alumni.

In speaking with him, he’s really excited and tremendously honored. “I had great support from ownership plus Ed Wade, Pat Gillick and Ruben Jr. This wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for the players. You know that, right? Hey, this is good.”

Once a fan target, he’s now revered and as popular as a rock star. “The years I spent in Philadelphia were some of the best of my professional career and I owe a lot of that to the fans.  I have said this before, but they are the best in the game.”

Normally, a three-year waiting period following retirement is required before an Alumnus can be placed on the on-line ballot. The Phillies waived that regulation and by-passed the fan ballot this year as they had done in 1989 and 1990 when Steve Carlton and Mike Schmidt were inducted. The greatest pitcher and greatest player in our history deserved the exceptions. As the greatest manager, Charlie deserves the same respect. Fan balloting will return in 2015.

For years Charlie witnessed the WOF act. Now he’s the act.

Charlie joins Dallas Green as the only managers in the Wall, managers of world-champion clubs in Philly. Both have white hair. Guess that comes from managing.

Individual tickets go on sale February 13, the first day of spring training, a day Charlie’s missing for the first time since 2004. Alumni weekend will be a hot ticket.

So will be the fifth annual Alumni Luncheon for Seniors on Friday noon, August 8. More information on that event, including ticket sales, will be forthcoming during the season.

We were privileged to be around this humble man for eight-plus seasons. He took us places we’ve never been. Thanks for the ride, Charlie.

Heading South

Now that the footballs and yellow penalty flags have been packed away, it’s time for the Phillies equipment truck to be packed for a journey south to Clearwater’s Bright House Field.

Event takes place this Thursday. For more on this event and items to be packed, check out http://phillies.mlblogs.com/

What’s missing from the list is one blue tub of summer-like clothing…mine. Couldn’t fit in the car so the truck gets this highly-valuable tub.

So spring is coming, no matter what Punxsutawney Phil predicted on Sunday. Time for an equipment truck to replace this famous groundhog in predicting the weather! John Mizerock, Phillies new assistant hitting coach, lives in the same town as the groundhog. Wonder if John saw his shadow on Sunday.

New Alumnus
Infielder Michael Young has announced his retirement. So, now he’s officially a member of the Phillies alumni, although his allegiance is with the Rangers where he was a star for 12 years.

He’s a class act and it would have been fun watching him during his prime playing days. He battled last year with the Phillies, always going all out. When you look up the definition of a true professional in the dictionary, you will find his photo. 14 years in the majors, a .300 batting average and no visits to the disabled list. Six times he had 200 or more hits with Texas.

This Week’s Alumni Birthdays
3—OF Bake McBride (65), LHP Mike Wallace (63), RHP Freddie Toliver (53).
4—C Chris Coste (41), LHP Dan Plesac (52)
5—RHP Chris Brock (44), GM Lee Thomas (78)
9—C Todd Pratt (47), RHP Jim Nash (69).

Did You Know
Plesac recorded the last strikeout in the history of Veterans Stadium. He fanned Atlanta CF Ryan Langerhans for the last out in the top of the ninth inning on September 28, 2003, the final game at the Vet.