April 2015

4 HR, But A Loss

Philadelphia Phillies v New York Mets
Electricity filled the City Field air as Harvey made his first start at home following Tommy John surgery.  First pitch was a strike and the crowd roared.  Two strikeouts and a two-strike count on Chase had the fans in a tizzy.  Chase hit the next pitch for a home run.  Total silence.

Harvey hadn’t allowed a home run in 61 innings, the longest running streak in the majors.  Utley hadn’t homered in 197 plate appearances, his longest dry spell. Later Chase hit his second homer (8th inning), the 21st time he’s done that. He was on base four times.

After hitting two homers in their first seven games, the Phillies unloaded for four only to suffer a 6-5 loss to the Mets, who have won 15 of the last 21 meetings between the two clubs. Frenchy hit the Phillies fourth in the top of the ninth.

The game featured two homers (Chase/Cody) off Harvey for only the second time in his career, a double off him by Buchanan, four hit batters (two for each team), a warning for both teams, a challenge that wasn’t allowed, a challenge that was and the ejection of the Mets manager when Howard was given first base because his bat hit the catcher’s mitt.

Minor Leagues
Lehigh Valley (2-4) edged Pawtucket, 6-5, scoring the winning run in the last of the eighth when Brian Bogusevic scored on a catcher’s throwing error while stealing third base.  WP: Hector Neris (1-1). SV: Colton Murray (1). 3B Maikel Franco, 1st HR. 1B Russ Canzler, 3 hits.  Starter Joely Rodriguez:  5-6-4-4-3-1.  Chad Billingsley in 10:35 a.m. game today.  IronPigs leave for Buffalo after the game.

Reading (2-3) lost when C Jack Murphy hit a two-run homer off Nefi Ogando in the bottom of the ninth, 5-4, at New Hampshire. CF Roman Quinn, 3 hits, 2 steals; batting .450. 3B Gustavo Pierre, 1st HR.  Starter Ben Lively: 6-5-3-3-2-3; all runs in first two innings.  Anthony Vasquez in 10:35 a.m. game today.  Fightin Phils return home after the game for their home opener on Friday.

Clearwater (3-3) won, 6-1, at Jupiter.  Matt Imhoff (1-1) picked up the win, 5-4-1-0-3-2. C Willians Astudillo, 1st HR.  DH Andrew Knapp, 2 his; .346 average. David Whitehead tonight in Jupiter.

Lakewood (4-2) coasted to a 9-1 win over Greensboro.  WP Elniery Garcia (1-0): 6-4-1-0-1-4. CF Carlos Tocci, 2B, grand slam HR; hitting .391.  Richard Pinto in 11:05 a.m. game today vs. Greensboro, last game of the homestand.

Today in Phillies History
1985: Mike Schmidt plays in his 1,795th game to break the club record held by Richie Ashburn.

2004: Four-run eighth inning lifts the Phillies to a 6-4 win over the Reds, their first victory in Citizens Bank Park.  LHP Rheal Cormier is the winner; save for LHP Billy Wagner.  Homers by 3B David Bell and C Mike Lieberthal.

Phun Fact
Rookie manager Pat Moran brought in eight new players including starters at second base, shortstop and left field prior to the 1915 season.  Bobby Byrne, the incumbent second baseman, moved to third base giving the team different players at three infield positions.

Hard-throwing Harvey Next


Shut out twice in seven games, including 2-0 yesterday in New York. So, what is next for the Phillies?  Only Matt Harvey tonight, a flame-throwing righty who is 4-0 with a skimpy 1.08 ERA against the Phillies.  Well, time for the bats to come alive.

Ben’s turning into a quality left fielder.  Dynamic throw on Sunday to cut down a runner at home plate and a flat out sensational catcher yesterday when he laid flat out to rob Ganderson of a hit.

Minor Leagues
Lehigh Valley (1-4) lost, 5-4, to Syracuse on a 2-run 9th off Cesar Jimenez.  Starter Paul Clemens: 6-4-3-2-1-2.  1B Russ Canzler, 1st HR. LH Joely Rodriquez tonight vs. Syracuse.

Reading (2-2) also lost by one run, 4-3, at New Hampshire. Reliever Elvis Araujo was tagged for 3 runs in the 8th.  Starter Tom Windle: 6-9-1-1-1-4. CF Roman Quinn, 1B, 2B, 3B.  RF Brian Pointer, 1st HR.  Ben Lively tonight in NH.

Clearwater (2-3) dropped an 8-1 decision at Jupiter.  RF Domonic Brown, 2-3, RBI. Matt Imhoff tonight in Jupiter.

Lakewood (3-2) defeated Greensboro, 4-1. WP Chris Oliver (1-0), 5-5-1-1-2-5. CF Carlos Tocci, 2 hits, 3 RBI; hitting .389.  Elniery Garcia tonight vs. Greensboro.

Today in Phillies History

1915: Phillies open season with win over defending World Series champion Braves in Boston. 28-year-old RH Grover Cleveland Alexander was the winner, first of 31 league-leading wins that season. Details of the victory will be posted on http://www.phillies.com/alumni later today.

2013: RHP Roy Halladay earns his 200th career win, 2-1, over the Marlins in Miami.

Peter Edward Rose turns 74 today.

Phun Fact

Chris Short
LHP Chris Short was the winning pitcher in the last game at the Polo Grounds against the New York Mets in 1963.  Two years later he won the first game in the Astrodome.



Weekend Review


Pap’s save on Friday night was his 55th at Citizens Bank Park, one more than Brad Lidge.  There should be a * attached to the 55 as four came when he was pitching for the Red Sox.

Cole had a no-decision on Saturday; had a career-high 12 a year ago.

Herrera’s first major league hit was a walk-off double on Saturday. He is the first Phillie to have a walk-off as his first ML hit since 1B John Bolling on June 10, 1939 (GM 1) versus the St. Louis Cardinals (RBI double in bottom of the 9th)

Two wild pitches led to two Nationals runs in the 4-3, 10-inning loss on Sunday.  A win would have the Phillies two over .500 for the first time since October 1, 2012. Ruf had tied the game at 2-all with his first career pinch-hit home run.

By Land
Phillies bussed to New York after yesterday’s game, will take AMTRAK on Wednesday night to Washington, DC, and the train again in returning home on Sunday.

Vs. Mets
Of all NL teams, New York had the best record against the Phillies a year ago, 13-6, including 5-4 at Citi Field where the Phillies hold a 30-25 edge.

Minor Leagues (weekend report)
*Lehigh Valley ended a 3-game losing streak to Pawtucket with a wild, 7-6, 16-inning win on Sunday. Red Sox scored 1 in the top of the 9th to tie; each team scored a run in the 13th; Red Sox went ahead in the 16th with a run off LF-1B-3B-DH Russ Canzler making his second minor league appearance as a pitcher; LV won with 2 in their at-bat on five walks and a wild pitch by OF Quintin Berry, a former Phillies farmhand. Canzler got the win; a position player picked up LV’s first win.  He gave up a go-ahead hit to Berry in the 16th and drew the walk-off bases-loaded walk off Berry in the bottom of the inning.
Pitching lines:
Friday: Chad Billingsley, 3.1-4-3-3-2-4; 58 pitchers
Saturday: Severino Gonzalez, 6.2-4-3-1-1-4; no decision in a 13-inning loss.
Sunday: Adam Morgan, 4-6-2-2-3-4, his first start in a year.
Next: RHP Paul Clemens vs. Syracuse, 7:05 tonight.

*Reading won last 2 after a loss in Portland. 1B Brock Stassi, homered in each win. CF Roman Quinn hit his first AA HR. Thursday and Friday games were postponed; season began with a DH on Saturday.
Pitching lines:
Saturday, Gm 1, LP Aaron Nola (0-1), 4.2-5-4-4-1-2, 3 HBP; gave up a 3-run HR in first inning.
Saturday, Gm 2, WP Jesse Biddle (1-0), 5-2-0-0-2-4.
Sunday, WP Zach Elfin (1-0), 6-4-0-0-1-2; 10 ground ball outs.
Next: LHP Tom Windle at New Hampshire, 6:35 tonight.

*Clearwater won 2 of 3 vs. Dunedin.  RF Domonic Brown had a 2B, HR, on Sunday. C Andrew Knapp hitting .412 in first 4 games with 3 multi-hit games.
Pitching lines:
Friday: WP David Whitehead (1-0), 6-4-0-0-1-8.
Saturday: Brandon Leibrandt (1-0), 6-6-1-1-2-2; 2 pick offs; no decision in a 2-1, 11-inning win.
Next: RHP Kevin Colin at Jupiter, 6:35 tonight.

*Lakewood dropped 2 of 3 against Kannapolis. Homers by DH Damek Tomscha and RF Herlis Rodiguez.
Pitching lines:
Friday, Josh Taylor, 5-7-1-1-0-7; no decision in a 4-3, 12-inning loss.
Saturday, WP Tyler Viza (1-0), 6-7-3-3-1-2.
Next: RHP Chris Oliver vs. Greensboro, 6:35 tonight.

Today in Phillies History
1955: Robin Roberts losses no-hitter on Alvin Dark’s single with one out in the ninth inning in the season opener at Connie Mack Stadium.  Robbie prevails, 4-2, over the Giants. Richie Ashburn, injured late in spring training, sees club record consecutive game playing streak end at 730 games.

For more memorable moments from today, visit http://www.phillies.com/alumni.

Birthdays: OF Wes Chamberlain (49), RHP Mark Leiter (52), RHP Jeff Bittiger (53).

Phun Fact
Three members of the 1915 Phillies wound up as Hall of Famers, RHP Grover Cleveland Alexander (1938), LHP Eppa Rixey (1963) and SS Davey Bancroft (1971).  Latter two earned their credentials primarily with other teams.


Boston Takes Series

Buchanan walked only two in 21 spring training innings but last night he struggled with his command, walking four in three innings.  With two out and no one on base, Boston scored six times in the third inning (2 walks, 3 hits, 1 error) and coasted to a 6-2 win last night. In the last 13 series at Citizens Bank Park, the Red Sox have won 10.

Buchanan entered the game not allowing more than three runs in 16 consecutive starts.
Five Phillies pitchers threw a total of 203 pitches, 112 for strikeouts. Phillies hitters, seven singles.

Masterson got lit up by the Phillies in spring training but dominated last night and collected a career-high two hits and second RBI of his career.

Nats Next
Washington comes to town for the first weekend series of the season.  Phillies had a 10-9 edge last year, 6-3 at home.  Many experts pick the Nationals to go all the way this season.  Jayson Werth is recuperating from January shoulder surgery and began a minor league rehab last night.

Minor Leagues
Lehigh Valley lost, 4-0, to Pawtucket, getting 7 singles.  LP Joely Rodriguez, 4-4-2-2-4-3.   Chad Billingsley starts tonight vs. Pawtucket.

Reading was snowed out in Portland, ME.  Aaron Nola scheduled to start tonight.

Clearwater lost to Dunedin, 5-2. Domonic Brown began rehab assignment, 0-2, 2 SO.  LP Matt Imhoff, 5-4-2-2-1-0. C Andrew Knapp, 3 hits.  Clearwater turned a 5-4-3 triple play in the 4th inning. David Whitehead tonight at Dunedin.

Lakewood won, 2-1, over Kannapolis on a walk-off hit by CF Carlos Tocci, who had 3 of the BlueClaws 4 hits.  Starter Ricardo Pinto, 6-3-0-0-2-2.  Josh Taylor tonight vs. Kannapolis.

This Date in Phillies History
Visit http://www.phillies.com/alumni for great moments.

Phun Fact
1915 season included 20 postponements and 22 double-headers (8-5-9).

Our deepest sympathy is extended to Gloria Hochman and her daughter, Andee, on the passing of Stan Hochman yesterday. Mr. Hochman was  one of many great journalists in this city.  He was one of the most dedicated, talented and respected writers I’ve had the pleasure to deal with over 50 years.  Always a gentleman. RIP, Stan.  We will miss you.


Vets Come Through


Veterans came through for the Phillies on a numbing, weather-wise, Wednesday night at Citizens Bank Park, a 4-2 win over the Red Sox.

Harang won his first game with the Phillies to improve to 6-1 at Citizens Bank Park with 6.1 shutout innings, Francoeur staked the Phillies to a 3-0 lead with his first home run in the majors since June 16, 2013, Utley climbed in some all-time hitting categories for the Phillies and Papelbon picked up a 4-out save, something he didn’t do a year ago. All were only one inning saves.

Francoeur entered the game with a home run and three RBI against Porcello and he matched that in the sixth inning.

Utley’s sacrifice fly produced the fourth run, giving him 877 career RBI tying him with his long-time partner, Jimmy Rollins, for fifth place on the all-time list.  It was Chase’s 61st SF, second most in Phillies history.  Mike Schmidt has a commanding lead with 108.
And, Chase moved into 9th place in at-bats, 5,506, passing Sherry Magee. Granny Hamner (5,771) and Tony Taylor (5,799) are within Chase’s sight this season. J-Roll leads, 8,626.

Series Finale
David Buchanan is making his first ever start against Boston tonight.  Boston will counter with Justin Masterson, whom the Phillies crushed (6 runs, 3.1 innings) on March 15 in a spring training game at Bright House Field.

Two teams will end interleague play in Fenway Park on a September 4-5-6 weekend.

Minor Leagues
Lehigh Valley, Reading, Clearwater and Lakewood begin their respective seasons tonight.

Meanwhile at Carpenter Complex, it is day #1 for 55 players in extended spring training, including 22 Hispanic players from the Dominican Republic spring camp.  In addition, injured players remaining in Clearwater on the rehab program continue their daily routines under Joe Rauch, minor league athletic training and rehabilitation coordinator and Jason Meredith, minor league strength and conditioning coordinator.

Mario Hollands underwent Tommy John surgery Wednesday.  He’ll soon be in Clearwater spending time in the rehab program.  Recovery usually takes a year.

Today in Phillies History
1913: Phillies win first game played in Brooklyn’s Ebbets Field, 1-0, over the Dodgers in 1 hour, 30 minutes.

1915: Phillies lost to the Philadelphia Athletics, 4-2, at Shibe Park in game #3 of a 4-game City Series.

Phun Fact
Tonight the Phillies are saluting the 1915 Phillies who won the franchise’s first pennant and then lost the World Series, 4-1, to the Boston Red Sox.  Instead of baseball numbers here are some other interesting numbers from 100 years ago:

US Population, 100,546,000
Unemployment, 8.5%
Average income, $1,076.00
DOW Average, 99.15
New home (median price), $4,800.00
New Car, $500.00
Gallon gas, 8 cents
First class stamp, 2 cents
Bread, 7 cents
Coffee, pound, 30 cents
Butter, pound, 36 cents
Dozen eggs, 34 cents
Milk, quart, 9 cents



Facts & Notes

Okay, the Phillies were blanked opening day.  Eighth time in team history.  Now the good news, they’ve never been shut out in the first two games.

Game 2 tonight, ESPN2, Harang vs. Porcello. Aaron is 5-5 in his career vs. the Red Sox. Porcello, born in Morristown, NJ, has never faced the Phillies. Then again, neither had Buchholz.

1915 Salute

1915 Cap - On-Field

Phillies will recognize their first champions, the 1915 club, Thursday night.  Both teams will wear caps styled after those worn 100 years ago when the Phillies and Red Sox met in the World Series.  A 1915 replica pennant will be flown in centerfield and Dan Stephenson has prepared a video which will run pre-game on PhanaVision.  Commemorative bases will be used.  Jeff Byrne, grandson of Phillies third baseman Bobby Byrne, will be in attendance.

All season long, two display cases in the Hall of Fame Club will feature artifacts from that year, including a bat used by captain Fred Luderus.  Items are courtesy of Bob Warrington, the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum and Hunt Auctions.

Check out http://www.phillies.com/alumni to learn all about their first-year manager, Pat Moran, a Phillies third-string catcher during the 1914 season.

MLB Notes
For the first time, spring training attendance topped four million.

There were six shutouts on opening day, a new record.

A record 115 players are starting the season on the disabled list.  Previous high was 110 in 2008.  First year of keeping track was 1995. The number then? 46.

Phillies have five on the DL.  In their minor leagues, 23.

Chad Billingsley, one of the Phillies five, will start Friday night for Lehigh Valley against visiting Portland.

Still Active
From the Phillies 2008 World Champions: Hamels, Ruiz, Howard, Utley are still with the Phillies . . . Rollins (Dodgers) . . . Victorino (Red Sox) . . . Kendrick (Rockies) . . . Madson (Royals) . . . Werth (Nationals, DL) . . . Blanton (AAA, Royals).

Today in Phillies History
1969: Rookie SS Don Money homers twice and drives in five runs but Phillies lose season opener, 7-6, in 11 innings in Chicago’s Wrigley Field.

LHP Mac Scarce turns 56 today.

Minor Leagues
Season openers on Thursday:

Lehigh Valley hosts Pawtucket.

Reading is in Portland.

Clearwater hosts Dunedin.

Lakewood hosts Kannapolis.

Phun Fact
Steve Carlton posted a 241-161 record while pitching for the Phillies. 57.3% of his wins came at Veterans Stadium (138-62).  He also owns the best single-season record (17-3) at the Vet.


Rough Start

2015 opener
Cole has made 276 starts in his outstanding career with the Phillies.  Two of those have been season openers and both have been duds.  Combined, 10 total innings, 12 hits, nine runs, seven home runs on 189 pitches.  In Atlanta in 2013, the Braves went deep in the 1st, 2nd and 5th. Yesterday, the Red Sox did it:  1st, 3rd, two in 5th.  Oddly, Cole allowed just 10 home runs at Citizens Bank Park in 95.2 innings a year ago.  His 14 season total was a career low.

Overall, he’s 0-5 in his last five season debuts (since 2011) and 1-7 in 10 career games to begin the season.

Strangely, Cole had gone 23 consecutive starts allowing three earned runs or less until yesterday. It was the longest streak by a Phillies pitcher since Chris Short went 26 straight starts from 1967-68.

In 133 openers, the Phillies have been shut out eight times now.  Yesterday’s 8-0 final was the largest deficit.

Rare Rookie
Since 1970, four rookies have made the opening day roster: Larry Bowa and Denny Doyle (1970), Freddy Galvis (2012) and Odubel (this year).

Interesting Note
From Nick Cafardo’s Sunday column in the Boston Globe: “Ryan Howard was fourth last season in the NL with 95 RBIs in 648 plate appearances. The average major leaguer with 648 PAs last season had 66 RBI.”

Today in Phillies History
2000: LHP Randy Wolf is the winner, 3B Scott Rolen hits first homer and Phillies prevail, 4-1, in first game in Houston’s Enron Field.

Happy birthday: OF Bobby Del Greco (82).

Phun Fact
Three members of the 1915 Phillies were college graduates, LHP Eppa Rixey (Virginia), LHP Stan Baumgartner (Chicago) and RHP Joe Oeschger (St. Mary’s College of California with a Master’s Degree from Stanford University).  Baseball players with a college degree were rare during that era.

Minor Leagues
Looking for rosters: visit http://www.ironpigsbaseball.com, http://www.fightins.com,
http://www.threshersbaseball.com and http://www.blueclaws.com.



Opening Day Notes

Cole gets the opening day assignment this afternoon at Citizens Bank Park against Boston.  He’s 0-1 in openers (losing in Atlanta two years ago), 4-0 in five career starts vs. the Red Sox and 54-42 at home, most wins in CBP history.

A Year Ago
Phillies opened last season with a 14-10 win in Texas:
Revere, cf
Rollins, ss
Utley, 2b
Howard, 1b
Byrd, rf
Brown, dh
Ruiz, c
Asche, 3b
Lee, p

Still Going
Chase and Ryan are starting their 1,079th game on the right side of the Phillies infield.  No one else can match them.

As for openers at their respective positions, #8 for Chase, extending his own club record; Ryan, #9, matching Fred Luderus (1911-1919).

Today In Phillies History
1971: Phillies lose the season opener, 4-2, to the Pirates in Three Rivers Stadium.

1973: Tom Seaver beats Steve Carlton, 3-0, in Shea Stadium.  Time of game for the season opener: 1:56.

1974: Batting eighth, Mike Schmidt hits walk-off homer on opening day off Tug McGraw in 5-4 win over the New York Mets at Veterans Stadium.  It is the first walk-off homer on opening day in franchise history.

1982: Phillies home opener is postponed by snow.  Next day is postponed by cold weather.

2001: Phillies retire Hall of Famer Jim Bunning’s #14 in pregame ceremonies for the home opener.  Cubs win, 3-2.

Birthdays: INF Wayne Graham (78) and RHP Tommy  Greene (48).

Opening Day Phun Fact

Chris Short holds the Phillies record for most opening day shutouts, 3. Each was 2-0.  Walter Johnson has the most in baseball history, 7.

Opening Day Numbers
Steve Carlton made the most starts in Phillies history (14).

Robin Roberts, the most wins (five) and losses (four); most consecutive starts (12).

Mike Schmidt, most career home runs (five); most consecutive starts (16).

Sherry Magee (1914), Lefty O’Doul (1929), Chuck Klein (1931), Don Money (1969), most homers (two).

Minor Leagues
Reading plays at Lehigh Valley Tuesday evening, 6:35 start.  Phillies are off.

Highs and Lows


Spring training is over. The Phillies flew home on a United Airlines charter last evening.  Lehigh Valley, Reading and Lakewood clubs fly north tomorrow.  Clearwater Threshers head south by about 400 feet tomorrow from the Carpenter Complex to Bright House Field.

Minor leaguers who didn’t make one of the four season-opening rosters have a few days off before extended spring training begins at Carpenter Complex.  Injured players on rehab assignments will take an Easter Day break but resume on Monday in the large indoor batting cage/weight room center at Carpenter Complex.  The Threshers’ front office staff who’ve been working daily since spring training began have a half-day spring break today before back to their second floor offices in a quieter Bright House Field on Monday.  The third floor, which accommodates the staff from Philadelphia for spring training, is now empty and remains that way until next February.

The Phillies finished 12-17-2, not the best record by far.  Other clubs have poorer records.  Bottom line, the games were exhibition games and now 30 teams start the real season, 0-0.

Five years ago, the Phillies won a club-record 21 spring games, had a rotation of Halladay-Lee-Hamels-Oswalt-Blandon, were forecast to win their third world championship, won the East for the fifth straight year but saw high hopes end with a 1-0 loss to St. Louis in the deciding Game 7 of the National League Division Series.  Since then, Utley, Howard, Oswalt, Halladay and Lee suffered career-changing injuries and the Phillies began a descent.

Bleakness is forecast for this year’s club.  Time will tell.  In 1993, the Phillies were picked to finish last for a second straight season but their season lasted until Game 6 in the World Series.

Clearwater Highs
Play of rookie Odubel Herrera, the Rule 5 draftee . . . work ethic of Ryan Howard, extra hitting in the cage early yesterday morning on the last day . . . Cole Hamels . . . Jon Papelbon . . . Freddy Galvis . . . Chase Utley’s bat . . . David Buchanan . . . Awesome weather . . . Strawberry shortcake at Bright House Field.

Clearwater Lows
The apparent career-ending injury to Cliff Lee . . . pendinig surgery on Mario Hollands’ left elbow . . .  Domonic Brown’s injury . . . struggles by Phillippe Aumont, Miguel Gonzalez, Jerome Williams . . .  Sunburn . . . Strawberry shortcake at Bright House Field.

Clearwater Numbers
Most spring training wins are 21 in 2011 as mentioned above.  Most losses, 21, in 2004.

9 of this springs 16 Clearwater games were sold old.

Final attendance was 127,479, third best in Florida behind the Yankees and Red Sox.

Cole will have a media session following this afternoon’s Phillies batting practice as the Phillies take on the Pirates in the On Deck Series.  How fast will the media pop a question about being trade rumors?

Papelbon, wearing Ruiz’ #51 jersey, gave up four runs yesterday.  Does that ERA belong to Chooch?

Thanks to Chris and Steve for pointing out my error in Thursday’s blog.  I wrote that Monday’s season opener is historic in nature as it is the first opening day against an American League team.  Phillies began 2014 in Texas against the Rangers.  Poor reporting on my part.

Happy Birthday
Roslyn, PA, native Don Hasenmayer, who turns 88 tomorrow.  As an 18-year old infielder, he made his major league debut with the Phillies on May 2, 1945.  He also played for thembriefly  the following season and served his country during World War II. Don is a regular every year at Alumni Weekend.

Opening Day Memories
Larry Bowa
“Getting my first hit off Ken Holtzman, something I will never forget.”

Dallas Green
“There are two special memories: my first opener as the Phillies manager in 1980 and then receiving our World Series rings the following year.”

Dave Hollins
“I was pinch-hitting against the Cubs and hit a scorcher up the middle that looked like a sure hit but Sandberg made an unbelievable diving stop and nailed me at first base.”

Greg Luzinski
“1972, a nervous rookie in Chicago, in front of my family.  Hit a home run off Fergie Jenkins and we won, 4-2.”

Ryne Sandberg
“I made the Cubs opening day lineup at third base in Cincinnati.  Going to home plate and seeing Johnny Bench behind the plate was a thrill.”

Mike Schmidt
“First game of the  1974 season, I hit a game-winning, two-run home run with one out in the last of the ninth inning to beat the Mets and Tug McGraw, 5-4.”

Tim McCarver
“My very first opening day with the Cardinals was not a fond memory….I was on the bench.”


Good-bye Clearwater

It is rare that a player will hit two home runs in a spring training game.  A few years ago, Chase Utley did it for the Phillies.  Now, he’s done it in each of his last two Grapefruit League games, including yesterday.

He missed the first 10 games because of a January sprained ankle.  He’s caught up, quickly.  As the late Harry Kalas once said, “Chase you are the man.”

Phillies 69th consecutive spring training in Clearwater comes to an end this afternoon with the Rays at Bright House Field.

Buses will leave about an hour after the last out for the Tampa airport and a charter flight back to Phillies.  Pirates 7:05 on Friday night and 1:05 on Saturday afternoon in the On Deck Series at Citizens Bank Park.

Red Sox and Phillies open the season, 3:05 on Monday afternoon. It is historic in nature…the first time the Phillies have started a season against an American League team.

Phillie Phanatic will appear on Good Morning America on Friday morning between 8 and 9.  Show is featuring “mascot madness” as opening day approaches.

Chad Billingsley will make his third minor league start this afternoon at Carpenter Complex.  He’s doing well and could be in the rotation around the middle of this month.  That’s the hope anyway.

E-Mail Bin
Fred wants to know if Odubel Herrera is related to Pancho Herrera who played for the Phillies in 1958; 1960-61.  Don’t believe so.  Odubel was born in Venezuela while Pancho is from Cuba.

Alumni Notes
Bobby Abreu, Aaron Rowand, Dave Dellucci and Roy Oswalt will be playing in the Hall of Fame Classic held annually on Memorial Day weekend in Cooperstown.  Sounds like a fun weekend.

1915 Phillies
Check out a really cool image of the Phillies during spring training 100 years ago in St. Petersburg’s Coffee Pot Park at http://www.phillies.com/alumni. Thanks to Rich Westcott for sharing the black and white photo.

1915 Phun Fact

Fred Luderus (lu-DARE-us) was the Phillies captain in 1915.  He led the club in hitting during the season (.315) and World Series (.438) and hit the Phillies first World Series home run.  He played 11 seasons with the Phillies (1910-1920), 1,298 games at first base, the most in franchise history.  Fred’s record won’t last long as Ryan Howard begins this season with 1,278 games at that position.
Final Spring Training Memory
Chris Wheeler (PR, 1972-82; broadcaster 1983-2013)
“My first trip to Clearwater was in February, 1972, first spring training and staying at the Ft. Harrison Hotel.  Everyone lived there including the players.  It was a tremendous bonding experience with the media present every afternoon in the ‘cheese room.’

“The first looks at the Complex and Jack Russell Stadium were almost a spiritual experience to a baseball nut who had only heard about those shrines through newspapers, photos and occasional black and white video.

“My most memorable experience was sitting with Larry Shenk in the hotel coffee shop for breakfast when he told me we were trading Rick Wise for Steve Carlton.  We both knew it was going to be an unpopular move.   It was.   The rest is Phillies and baseball history. My first exhibition game also was memorable.  Shortly before the game Larry said he PA announcer didn’t show up and asked me, ‘Have you ever done the PA and if I would do it today?’  I had never done any such work but I instantly replied, yes.  Except for two years when I was part of the TV team, I’ve been the PA announcer for every Clearwater home game since then.

“What do I like about spring training?  Everything.  Even back in the days when you worked long hours in PR.  Now I have a chance to be around baseball, play golf and enjoy one of the prettiest locations in the country.  What do I dislike about spring training?  Easy.  The day we leave town.  It always goes too fast.”