Spring Training for Everybody
Everybody needs spring training including Phillie Phanatic. He’s at every Bright House Field game. His hot dog shooter was even sent down on the equipment truck last month.
Wonder what he does when there are no games….fishing in the Gulf of Mexico, sun- bathing on Clearwater Beach, reading in the Clearwater library, bonding with friends at the Tampa Zoo or face time with the Galapogos Gang back in Philly? We’ll probably never know.
Wheels’ Clearwater Report
Mentioned last week how things were being done differently in camp. Over the past week observed that the coaches and instructors were doing a lot more instructing and teaching and the players were paying attention. It is another example of having a camp of young players. Often in the past, veteran players sort of had their own programs. Not this year. It has created a totally different atmosphere.
Got to say something about Chooch (Carlos Ruiz). He’s so valuable in the clubhouse. He not only talks to the young catchers every day and young pitchers but everyone. His English is great, he can be serious and he can make people laugh. (Andres) Blanco is very similar. They are really important players on this team.
Another observation, the camp is filled with big athletes. Most pitchers are tall. (Jorge) Alfaro is a big, good-looking athlete. A power bat and power arm. The only guy I can look in the eye is (Roman) Quinn. He’s my height.
J.P. (Crawford) is another impressive athlete. Just watching him in drills, he is fluid, good arm, good hands. He’s rangy and will fill out. Like everyone else, it’s going to be interesting watching him develop into a big leaguer.
Ernie Whitt’s team won the golf tournament. Our team and his tied. The tie breaker was determined by matching scorecards from the lowest handicapped hole back. It took four holes to determine the winner. With a lot of new, young players I thought we might have trouble finding golfers. We wound up with 68 participants, more than a year ago.
Most interesting story was (Vince) Velasquez. Usually I pick the older players for captains and the draft. Learned that he has a 7 handicap which means he can play. So I picked him as one of the captains. Sunday morning Phil Sheridan called me from the clubhouse and said Velasquez wanted to talk to me. I figured he’s bailing. Instead, he was pumped. He wanted to know all about the draft, how it worked, how many players were on each team. “I can’t wait and we’re not out to lose. I’m going to buy my team matching golf shirts,” he said. He did and his team finished third. The Belleair Country Club does such a great job helping us put on the tournament which is followed by a dinner and presentation of awards. Did lose one captain because he wasn’t feeling well, Schmitty. He’s a good golfer and we missed him.
The tournament is a great thing and is always held the day before the games begin. It is nice break from the daily drills and the games that will last until October. One other point, I was glad we beat the University of Tampa. It may sound strange but there was a lot of negativity when we lost to them last spring. Chris Wheeler.
Somewhere around 150 players will be in the Phillies minor league camp at Carpenter Field on Friday. First day includes introductions in the large Training Facility. The number of players will increase when some of the young prospects are assigned there from the big league camp. Daily workouts are open to the fans free of charge. More later about the game schedule there.
Today’s one of those split squad dates. One squad will be at Bright House Field to face the Astros while another will bus (9:15 a.m.) to nearby Tampa to take on the Yankees. With an army of pitchers in camp, the two games gives the staff a chance to see more arms.
Spring Training Memories
Tommy Hutton (1B, 1972-77)
“My 1st Spring Training was with the Dodgers at Dodgertown in Vero Beach, Florida. Simply put, Vero Beach was quite a change for this Southern California kid! My roommate was Jim Lefebvre. With minor leaguers and major leaguers all together in Dodgertown, it was a thrill to see guys like Koufax, Drysdale, etc. hanging out in the same places you did.
“My first Phillies spring training was 1972 and was different than Dodgertown. The Carpenter Complex was a few miles from the main ballpark and made for some adjustments. The best thing that ever happened to me in Clearwater was meeting my wife Debby in 1974. I’m happy to report 41 years later and still going strong.
“The part of spring training I enjoyed was just getting back in the routine of playing baseball and the camaraderie of my teammates. What I didn’t like was the pitchers were always finished with their work hours before the position players!! My wife could never understand why my Brother-in-Law, Dick Ruthven was always home way before I was!!!”
March 4, 2004: Phillies defeated New York Yankees, 5-1, in first game played at Bright House Network Field. SS Jimmy Rollins hit the first home run. Seems so long ago.
Voting Ends Monday
Yep, at 5 p.m. on Monday, May 7, fan voting ends for the 2016 inductee into the Toyota Phillies Wall of Fame: http://www.phillies.com/wof.