There’s a heavy 1980 flavor in the Phillies camp. 70-year-old Larry Bowa leads’ the trio as the bench coach. Mike Schmidt, 66, is wrapping up another spring as a guest instructor and the baby of the bunch, 65-year-old Greg Luzinski is also a guest instructor. Together they played 5,432 games for the Phillies.
Next trio in terms of games played? Jimmy Rollins-Chase Utley-Ryan Howard, currently sitting at 5,101. Third, Richie Ashburn-Del Ennis-Willie Jones, 4,944.
Wheels’ Clearwater Report
“There’s a buzz in camp about Maikel Franco’s power. He’s a different player this spring. When he was called up in September of ’14 and in spring training last year, he struggled at bat swinging at most anything. He went back to AAA a year ago, worked hard and came back up in May to stay. He improved a lot offensively and now he’s a legit power hitter. He’s crushing the ball, not hitting fence scrapers. He makes spectacular plays on defense but needs to be a bit more consistent on all the routine plays.
“Tyler Goeddel has some tools and is a perfect fit with Aaron Altherr out and the fact we are rebuilding. We got Odubel Herrera in the rule 5 draft and now Tyler. Not saying he’s as good a hitter as Herrera but these two kids are a credit to Mike Ondo and his professional scouts who recommended drafting them.
“J. P. Crawford and Nick Williams are really good-looking prospects who are not far away. Each has a lot of tools. Williams is strong and has power, not Franco-type power however.
“Roman Quinn was sent to Reading but that kid has tools, too. He can really fly. He sort of reminds me of Jimmy Rollins with his up-beat personality. He needs to stay healthy all season and get a lot of at-bats. I can see why our people are so high on him.
“Most often your AAA club is stocked with six-year minor league free agents, players who are sort of insurance policies in case of injuries. Lehigh Valley will be different this season. The first three cuts, Jake Thompson, Mark Appel and Zach Elfin, are impressive young prospects who have a chance to pitch in the majors.
“As I said before, it will be interesting to watch these kids in triple-A. It used to be a prospect in AA ball would move up the next year and spend a full season in AAA. Nowadays, it seems as if they spend less time in AAA before moving up to the majors.”
When did Tug McGraw first wear green on St. Patrick’s Day? Know it was at Jack Russell Stadium. According to broadandpattison.com: April 17, 1979: Wearing green socks and a green undershirt, Tug McGraw gave up a game tying home run in the top of the eighth inning, but emerged with a win when the Phillies scored in the bottom of the inning to beat the White Sox . . . A Florida Historical Marker will be dedicated at the location of Clearwater Athletic Field at 10 a.m. on Saturday. Location is the northeast corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and Seminole Street. The Phillies trained there from 1947 through 1954. Brooklyn (1923-1932; 1936-41) and Cleveland (1942-1946) preceded the Phillies.
Third annual Phillies Alumni Day will take place on Sunday. About 30 Alumni will be introduced on the field pre-game. Some will be signing autographs and three will greet fans at gates which open at 10:35 a.m. for the 1:05 game against Houston.
Spring Training Memories
Randy Ready (INF, 1989-91; 1994-95)
“I signed in 1980 and went straight to Butte so my first spring training was the following year in the Padres minor league camp. Peoria, AZ, the Rodeway Inn. Roommate was Al “Country Bumpkin” Manning.
“I remember taking batting practice and then chasing down fly balls in the outfield. There were no fences so the balls kept going and going. I remember asking myself, ‘Is this pro ball?’ Especially, after a cup of tomato soup and crackers for lunch served off the tailgate of some pick-up truck.
“My first Phillies camp was 1990. Larry Bowa hit me ground balls and barked, ‘Your hands aren’t too bad but you got a lot of work to do.’
“What I liked about spring training? My teammates dragging ass after a long day of work and getting together after for drinks and dinner. I didn’t like the soreness and the early wake-up calls.”
The Yankees won the last spring training game in the history of Jack Russell Memorial Stadium, 2-0, on March 28, 2003.
Phillies photographer Miles Kennedy captured a unique angle of the players loosening up in the morning in Bradenton.
On Friday I’m scheduled to sign my new book, The Fightin’ Phillies: 100 Years of Philadelphia Baseball from the Whiz Kids to the Misfits, from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Bright House Field. Hope to see you there.