Spring Training Is Over

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Citizens Bank Park is ready for season number 13.  Hard to believe.  Seems like just yesterday we opened the state of the art ballpark.

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Yesterday morning the Phillies clubhouse was empty.  That changed when the team returned last night.

Phillies final 25-man roster is due no later than 3 p.m. Sunday, the day before the Phillies open the season in Cincinnati. The two teams have met five previous times in Cincinnati in the season opener with the Reds leading, 3-2.

Change has been the theme since last season ended.  It is evident in last year’s opening day lineup:
Revere, LF
Herrera, CF
Utley, 2b
Howard, 1B
Ruiz, c
Sizemore, RF
Asche, 3b
Galvis, SS

Change is also evident in the bullpen where Jeanmar Gomez is the lone returning reliever.  It is evident in the starting rotation.  The Phillies starting pitchers in their first four games last year were Cole Hamels, Aaron Harang, David Buchanan and Jerome Williams. It is evident on the field where Pete had them playing better fundamental ball.

They finished Florida with a 15-10-3 record, their first winning spring since 21-14 in 2111.  Granted spring training stats are out the window now but there was energy, enthusiasm and competition on the club.  That’s change, too.

Wheels’ Clearwater Report
Wrapping up another spring training in Clearwater…….

We all know how entertaining the Phanatic can be.  His best spring training performance was a pre-game fitness challenge in right field with Bautista of the Blue Jays. Got a ton of video play.  You know, I’ve been watching the Phanatic since he arrived and he still makes me laugh. Every game.

Squeeze bunt plays in spring training?  Don’t remember many but Pete did it four times this spring.

Best power display was Franco although Howard’s grand slam over the batter’s eye was something to see.  I remember seeing home runs over the batter’s eye at Jack Russell Stadium but not Bright House Field.

The best arms were Velasquez among pitchers and Alfaro among position players.

Quinn was the fastest player. He can fly. He just needs to have a healthy full season and 450 at-bats.

Now that Bowa has reached 70, people wonder if he has matured.  Well…..sort of. We’ll see how he handles the regular season.

Favorite restaurant? There are a ton of them in Clearwater and the area but my favorite remains Villa Gallace in Indian Rocks Beach.  Outstanding Italian food.

Packing yesterday for the return trip home was a cruel reminder that spring training #45 for me was about to end.  Arriving in Clearwater every spring is so special.  I get excited every time I drive over the causeway into Clearwater, a place that has become a second home.  You get a chance to spend time with friends again. The grass is greener, the weather warmer and there isn’t a better place to watch a game than Bright House Field. A full house there is such a beautiful sight.

BNF17012

Book Signings
The Fightin’ Phillies: 100 Years of Philadelphia Baseball from the Whiz Kids to the Misfits is the title of my new book published by Triumph Books.  Larry Andersen wrote a hilarious foreword.

I’ll be signing:
**April 30, Main Point Books, 1041 West Lancaster Ave., Bryn Mawr; 1-2 p.m.
**May 22, Citizens Bank Park, 12:30 p.m.-1:30 p.m.
**May 26, Maris Grove Theatre, 200 Maris Grove Way, Glen Mills, PA; 2-3 p.m.
**August 14, Citizens Bank Park, 12:30 p.m.-1:30 p.m.

More dates are forthcoming.

Hear Ye, Hear Ye
Beginning on Monday, Phillies Insider switches to five times per week. There’ll be commentary on the current team, the future and the past.

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