News, insight and observations on the trails of the team that ended the quarter century-long parade drought in the City of Brotherly Love - the Philadelphia Phillies.
Saturday, February 27, 2010
And we're off... Halladay gets the ball vs. CC and the Yanks in Opener
Roy Halladay is not going to avenge the World Series Thursday.
But he is getting the chance to be the first Phillies pitcher to take the ball in a Grapefruit League game. Halladay will make his Phils' debut (at least exhibition debut) Thursday at Bright House Field against the defending World Champion New York Yankees.
Oh, and CC Sabathia is pitching for the Yanks.
It's spring... and the games don't count... but I'm thinking the vibe will be exciting for sure here in Clearwater.
And back in Philly, too. The game will be broadcast live on Comcast SportsNet at 1 p.m. (It will re-air at 7 p.m. on CSN, and, for out-of-towners, on the MLB Network).
J.A. Happ is starting the day before, in an exhibition contest vs. Florida State Wednesday night. In the first road game, Cole Hamels takes the hill in Dunedin Friday afternoon against Halladay's old team, the Toronto Blue Jays.
Also: Kyle Kendrick is scheduled to pitch after Halladay against the Yankees Thursday, as is Andrew Carpenter. Jamie Moyer, who was thought to be behind six weeks ago, is on target to follow Hamels in Friday's game in Dunedin.
After that: Joe Blanton goes Saturday March 6 at Bradenton (Pittsburgh) and then it's believes to be J.A. Happ Sunday at home vs. the Rays.
That would mean Kendrick back up Monday in Tampa (Yankees) since Halladay is on tap to go for a second time on Tuesday in Disney World (Braves).
We don't mean to complain about the weather, but...
I just heard a Phillies intern say, "It looks like it's going to rain for a while."
First things first: down here in Florida, we know the good folks back home in the greater Philadelphia area have little (zero?) sympathy for us folks at Spring Training. But here's the truth: it's been pretty miserable here.
This is Day 15 for me. I'd say there have been maybe four nice days. People are calling it the coldest winter in the Tampa area in 50 years. I believe it.
And today the crummy weather is throwing off the Phils' workout schedule.
"Not today," is how J.C. Romero responded to me when I braved the raindrops to venture out and find the team jogging off the field after a pre-workout catch. Romero had been scheduled to throw a bullpen session today... it would have been the first time he threw off the mound since elbow surgery in October.
He'll try again tomorrow. Weather permitting, of course...
It's Friday, it's cold (for Florida, temps in the 40s ain't cool, Mother Nature) and I've got a nasty head cold that DayQuill and NyQuill have failed to combat. Some exciting Friday night in Clearwater Beach, eh?
So this blog is brought to you by Eric Hartline, the Delco staff photographer who got some excellent stuff during his week here in Clearwater. Just as you can follow me on twitter @ryanlawrence21 you can keep up with Eric at @hartlinepix
Here is a herd of great shots Eric captured, including Phillippe Aumont, Joe Blanton, Domonic Brown, Tyson Gillies, J.A. Happ, Scott Mathieson, Jimmy Rollins, J.C. Romero and, yes, Jayson Werth and his beard.
Some people have applauded us for the short videos we've had on the site this week.... for that I have to give props to staff photographer Eric Hartline. He shoots and edits those... I simply stand in front of the camera and yammer on like a chimp.
Anyway, this is Eric's last day in camp. Here is some of the other fine work he's done this week:
The second full-squad workout at the Carpenter Complex was a little sleepy (maybe it was the disappearance of the sun?).
Pitchers participated in PFP (pitcher's fielding practice), position players pretended to take throws to their respective bases (a pitching machine fired strikes at the bags) and many also got their work in on the base paths and in the batting cage.
Tomorrow should deliver more baseball eye candy to Clearwater -- it's the first day of live BPs. Personally, it's my favorite time at camp because it's the only time all year you can see Ryan Howard take hacks against Cole Hamels, Jimmy Rollins step in against Jamie Moyer, etc. Actually, here are three matchups you are guaranteed to see at the Carpenter Complex if you go tomorrow: Roy Halladay will face Chase Utley, Raul Ibanez and Domonic Brown.
Which reminds me of my favorite thing to watch today. Domomic Brown looked darn good in the cage.... on the base paths, he was getting tutelage from stolen base guru Davey Lopes. That's like getting throwing-a-slider advice from Lefty.
Time to write. Be on the lookout for another video blog up on delcotimes.com later today.
(my favorite thing about this blog post: the Halladay pic is my professional Delco Times photographer Eric Hartline and his serious camera. The Brown photo is by yours truly, via camera phone. Slight quality difference, eh?)
It's J-Roll Day (among other things, he calls Halladay best pitcher in NL East.)
Added: a spring training slide show. Delco Times staff photographer Eric Hartline is here in Clearwater: http://tinyurl.com/yfo8v24
Jimmy Rollins likes to talk. And let's not kid ourselves - we all like to listen.
Here's a taste of spring training Jimmy:
He heard about the Roy Halladay/Cliff Lee craziness after getting a text from resident beardman Jayson Werth. "We traded a great pitcher...but got an even better one. How can you not be happy." And later: "When you get a guy like Roy Halladay, it seems like another five wins out of his arm all by itself."
The NL East trash talk of 2010? Who is the best pitcher in the league? Johan Santana proclaimed himself last week. Halladay stayed out of it. Jimmy rarely stays out of such talk: He said Halladay is best pitcher in the division, "as far as pitching is concerned. Everyone knows he can't hit."
Afterward, Halladay smiled and attempted to defend himself: "I went 2-for-2 off Jason Schmidt." Doc doesn't lie: http://tinyurl.com/knp5dg
Oh, Rollins also talked about how he's under contract for two more years, after the Phils picked up his 2011 option this winter. He was asked about the rarity of guys like him, Derek Jeter and Chipper Jones playing so long for one team in today's baseball climate.
"Some guys just look good in certain colors, and red kind of comes good off my skin," JRoll said.
More from Rollins, Doc and Charlie Manuel's annual pre-spring training, pep talk in the paper/website later.
Y'all need to follow me on twitter @ryanlawrence21
Here's what I posted from there immediately after Jayson Werth addressed his contract (he's a free agent after the season) a few minutes ago:
- Jayson Werth on the first question, of course, about his new beard: "I'm not going to talk about that...am I going to ask you about that thing on your neck?"
- Werth says contract situation is "different" than Jason Bay and Matt Holliday, and mentioned how Aaron Rowand probably wishes he was still in Philly. The school of thought is Werth could strike it rich on the open market as Bay and Holliday did this winter.... but mentioning Rowand was very interesting, since Rowand did test the open market and then saw his former team go to the World Series in the next two years.
- Werth: "Hopefully it will work out and I'll be in Philly for a long time."
- Werth called going into his walk year "an interesting situation" and was vague on if he'd consider negotiating with Phils during season. His agent and Ruben Amaro Jr. have had very preliminary talks, according to both Werth and Amaro... and this was as of last month, when Amaro said so.
More in the paper tomorrow. Oh, here's Werth's new look (courtesy MLB.com). I thought I'd post it with another interesting Werth look. Enjoy!
Happy Sunday. Beautiful here at Bright House - it's 61 degrees at 9:30 in the morning.
Easily the best we've had so far...
Anyway, nothing new to tell about anything going on in the clubhouse. No new faces have arrived.
Monday is the reporting day for the position players, so we should see Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, Jayson Werth, Shane Victorino, Raul Ibanez and Greg Dobbs checking in within the next 24 hours.
I've always found Sunday as the best day to kick back and enjoy a good story. I'm sure that's why newspapers are always bigger on Sunday - people like a leisurely day of reading. On that note, I wrote a story for today's paper on Danys Baez and Jose Contreras, the two Cuban defectors on the Phillies. Their stories of escaping were unbelievable, like something out of one of the Bourne movies.
There was so much I couldn't possibly fit it all into the story in today's paper... so here's a little "web extra," a part that didn't appear in the above linked story:
Danys Baez talked about the 10 days to two-weeks he spent dealing with the fear factor that goes along with defecting from Cuba:
"Every day you wake up, you don’t know what’s going to happen to you that day. At the same time, there were moments. We were driving around and there was a van next to us, a Cuban security on the van. They were parked next to us at a light. And I was like, ‘This is going to get ugly.’ I didn’t know what was going to happen, but I’m not going back, they’re not going to take me back. This is going to get ugly. I knew what they wanted and I wasn’t going to let them take me. I was in the back of the van. I was ready, prepared to do whatever I had to do to get away. [At this moment in the conversation, Contreras pretends to run in place].
The light turned green and they took off. We went the other way. The Holiday Inn (I stayed at) was six hours from the city."
Spring Training: News on fifth starter spot, Lidge
So the ginormous contingent of national and TV media that has crowded the clubhouse at Bright House Field this week disappeared today. I believe there was only a half dozen reporters in camp today.
The die-hard, at-the-park-everyday contingent were rewarded with some news.
According to Charlie Manuel, "anyone can be beaten out" in the race for the fifth starter spot in the rotation, including Jamie Moyer. Manuel said its too soon to make any big statements, since Moyer is rehabbing his way back from two offseason surgeries, but the idea that the job was Moyer's to lose isn't exactly on target.
Manuel and Dubee have both been impressed with Kyle Kendrick. In the last year, Kendrick has grown up as a pitcher, perfecting a changeup and adding a cutter/slider to his repertoire.
Jose Contreras will also be stretched out as a starter (although his future is likey in the pen). When Grapefruit League play begins, it still appears to be a three-horse race with Kendrick, Moyer and Contreras getting a shot at the job.
The other piece of news: Brad Lidge is scheduled to throw a bullpen session Monday.
Like Moyer, Lidge had two surgeries in the offseason (on his right elbow and right knee). He said he came into camp two weeks behind the health pitchers.
Pitching coach Rich Dubee: "Is he a little ahead of schedule? Yeah."
In case I failed to mention it: I'm on twitter now. It's @ryanlawrence21
I mention that because I've already been feeding stuff from the Roy Halladay press conference to twitter. But here are a few more nuggets before I head up to the press box and work on the story (ah yes, even in the modern news age, the story trumps all).
- Roy Halladay first checked in at Bright House Field back in December... shortly after the trade. He wins the prize for first player in camp.
- His training routine has been a popular topic among teammates. So when does it begin each day? Halladay wakes up at 4:45 a.m. and reports to the park at 5:45. "Some young kids have been chasing me in, trying to beat me... I might move it back to 5:30."
- Halladay on Philly's rep for booing: "I'm going to try to keep the boos to a minimum. I think it's too good of a team to disappoint the fans." He also said former Phillie/Blue Jay and current Philly fan boo-bird favorite Scott Rolen told him he'd like Philly: "I'm sure it was hard for him to say."
- Halladay (whose nickname, if you didn't know, is "Doc"), said something that can't be possible: his favorite moment in Philly so far was a 76ers game.. it was the applause he received, not the hoops of course. "Ryan Howard was there, and after the announced him (over the P.A. system), they announced me," Halladay said.
And who got the bigger applause?
"I don't know - probably Ryan still," Halladay said, grinning.
- on Johan Santana's comment the other day (Santana said he was the best pitcher in the NL East): "I like to use the old Lou Holtz quote: Well done is more important than well said."
Quiet for most of the morning in the clubhouse - we'll hear from Roy Halladay in a press conference later today. The Phils held a pitchers' meeting around 9 a.m., which left the room barren.
Among the dozen or so who were still in the clubhouse included a few guys who checked in Friday: shortstop prospect Freddy Galvis, pinch-hitter extraordinaire Ross Gload, Wilson Valdez and veteran outfielder DeWayne Wise. Wise, on a minor league contract, is one of a handful of established major leaguers in camp hoping to impress and win a big league job. You may remember him, though, as the guy who made what is arguably one of the greatest catches in major league history while with the White Sox last year.
Entering the game as a reserve outfielder in the ninth inning, Wise preserved Mark Buerhle's perfect game last year with a wall-scaling grab. I asked him if he got to keep anything to remember that moment.
"Mark got me a really big, expensive paiting of me making the catch, it shows it in three different pictures. It's real nice," Wise said. "My glove went to the Hall of Fame, which is another good thing about it."
Don't you think that glove might still be of some use?
"Yeah I know," Wise said, laughing. "But it's cool."
Wise hit .225 in 84 games with Chicago. Even if he doesn't make the club, he might be good inventory at Triple-A, since the Phils kind of lacked a guy who could both run and play above-average defense last year off the bench... well at least until Ben Francisco arrived in late July.
A few quick notes from the 20-minute presser Cole Hamels just finished with the media: - After spending the previous winter "on the press tour" following a World Series MVP, and thus, not enough time on training his arm and body, the 26-year-old lefty has thrown all winter long, about 50 throws per day. He even would take baseballs on vacation.
- The fresh left limb should have a big impact on what Hamels can do this spring. Last year, for example, he spent the first week working the stiffness out of his arm and then suffered a minor elbow injury. He couldn't work on anything. This year, he's already in the mode where he can throw with ease, which will allow him ample time to work on improving his third pitch, the curveball.
- Could Hamels go from a two-pitch pitcher to a four-pitch pitcher in a single year? It's possible. He spoke to Steve Carlton last year during the playoffs and then a couple times over the winter about a cutter. (He also spoke with Cliff Lee and John Wetteland about the pitch. Hamels is looking forward to testing it on Chase Utley and Raul Ibanez when live BP begins in the next week.
More from Hamels in the paper (and in the online story, of course).
Spring Training: Day 1 of workouts for pitchers and catchers
The sun is out. The clubhouse is filled with pitchers and catchers. Charlie Manuel is in uniform (a trimmed-down uniform, of course). And the batting practice gear is on the perfectly-manicured diamond at Bright House Field.
Welcome to the first workout day of Phillies baseball, 2010.
It's not exactly the kind of Florida people back home in Philly are day-dreaming about (the temperature on the scoreboard is reading at 50 degrees, there's a cool, crisp wind in the air), but the official beginning of spring training - the first sounds of bat meeting ball, of mitts-a-poppin' - are just about to get underway.
The team is currently in a meeting before the first workout begins.
Not a whole lot of news, since all of the pitchers and catchers had to report yesterday. And many have been in town a long while before this week - Roy Halladay has been around for at least a month and Kyle Kendrick, who is a five o'clock shadow away from being Halladay's doppelganger, came in the door all the way back on January 5. The only new face so far today: new third baseman Placido Polanco. He walked in shortly before 9 a.m. and shook hands with Chad Durbin, Brian Schneider, Halladay, Kendrick and an assortment of other guys getting their morning grub on before hitting the field.
Polanco will use the weekend before position players have to report (that's Monday), to continue to work on the transition from second to third base.
Until Cole Hamels meets the press later, it's kind of quiet down here. Just a lot of small-talk in the clubhouse: I was chatting with Charlie about his diet and about trying to fill out an all-time outfield with Willie Mays and Ted Williams (he was leaning toward Hank Aaron, but said he'd have to find a spot for Babe Ruth, "maybe DH/closer" and I asked Brad Lidge a little about something I first talked with him about last summer, when trade rumors began to become rampant: how he and Roy Halladay were both seniors in Denver-area high schools in the spring of 1995 (also my graduating year).
Lidge admitted Halladay was the better pitcher at a time, but his team (Cherry Creek) got the best of Halladay's (Arvada West) in the state playoffs that spring.
But Lidge admits Halladay was the bigger prospect. "We all knew he was going to be a 1st round pick since middle school," said Lidge, who went on to pitch at Notre Dame while Halladay was drafted by the Blue Jays out of high school (17th pick overall) that summer.
That's all for now. More after Hamels speaks following the workout...
Spring Training, Day 1 of Camp: Updates on Lidge, Moyer
A day after getting the latest from J.C. Romero on his offseason elbow surgery, I had the chance to catch up with two other pitchers who went under the knife this offseason: Brad Lidge and Jamie Moyer. I walked and talked with Moyer as he was completing his first workout at Camp Clearwater (he checked in for the first time in the morning). Moyer, who had offseason procedures that involved his knee, groin, abdomen - and a blood infection, too - said there are "no limits" to what he can do right now.
He hasn't thrown off a mound yet, but if asked to do so for tomorrow's first official workout for pitchers and catchers, he'd be glad to give it a go.
Shortly afterward, the Phillies summoned Lidge into the media lunch room where he met a barrage of cameras and recorders. Speaking of his forgettable '09 season, Lidge admitted he was "trying to convince himself" that he'd be OK physically and turn bad results into good ones all season. Obviously, that didn't happen.
But after getting both his right knee and right elbow cleaned up, he's confident he can return to his old mechanics. Lidge says he thinks he's two weeks behind the healthy players... and would need at least 10 appearances in spring games... so he still looks to be on track to be ready some time in early April.
As always, more - on both Moyer and Lidge - in the Daily Times Thursday.
Know this about J.C. Romero: one of the best things about is he's never at a loss for confidence.
Romero was among the pitchers and catchers in Camp Clearwater Tuesday, a day before their attendance is mandatory. Although he had elbow surgery in October and was expected to be ready sometime in April and likely after the season already egts underway, according to GM Ruben Amaro, the 33-year-old left-hander was bullish on his Opening Day chances.
"My goal is to break camp with the team. I don’t read anything that’s on the media, what they say, what they post in their computer. I’m not going to be ready when the season starts? Says who?," Romero said. "But I’m going to be smart at the same time. This is a marathon, not a sprint, and I don’t want to do something that will jeopardize the rest of my career and the rest of the season...
"But my mind is set on breaking with the team. I’m confident about it, I'll tell you that."
More in the Daily Times (and on delcotimes.com) tomorrow.
And we apologize for the somewhat late post on this - the internet was down here at Bright House Field.
The day baseball fans and Philadelphia sports aficionados have dreamed about over a long, snowy winter arrives in 24 hours: pitchers and catchers will report at Phillies' spring training camp in Clearwater, Fla. Wednesday.
The clubhouse opens for the first time to the media at 8 a.m. today and many of those pitchers and catchers are already expected in town. The Delco Times will be there for the duration of spring training, so stick with us here and we'll keep you updated on all the comings and goings in Clearwater.
Here is the role call for Wednesday. (Position players aren't scheduled to officially report until next week).
Danys Baez Antonio Bastardo Joe Blanton Drew Carpenter Jose Contreras Chad Durbin Sergio Escalona Yohan Flande Roy Halladay Cole Hamels J.A. Happ David Herndon Kyle Kendrick Brad Lidge Ryan Madson Scott Mathieson Jamie Moyer Drew Naylor J.C. Ramirez J.C. Romero Jesus Sanchez Mike Zagurski
(non-roster invitees) Phillippe Aumont B.J. Rosenberg Joe Savery Ryan Vogelsong Ehren Wassermann Bill White
Carlos Ruiz Brian Schneider
(non-roster invitees) Tuffy Gosewisch Paul Hoover Kevin Nelson Dane Sardinha John Suomi
In the event you'll be able to escape your snowed-in existence this week, you may want to hit up your favorite bookstore.
Tis the season for newest baseball books to hit the shelves - the annual Baseball Prospectus and the new Willie Mays biography are two on my shopping list. But there's also at least one magazine cover that should make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, despite the three feet of white stuff outside.
Roy Halladay on the cover of the Sporting News for their Spring Training preview issue. According to a press release, the magazine should be available "later this week." But here's a sneak peak at the conversation Halladay, who has already been working out tirelessly in Florida, had with the Sporting News recently:
On whether he believed he was headed to Philadelphia before last July’s trade deadline:“I did. It’s tough because you feel like you owe the team you’re playing for your time and effort and dedication — that’s where your focus should be — but I definitely was looking forward to that opportunity, and that was hard. Once it (didn’t happen), there was a little bit of disappointment. I love Toronto and loved my time there, but I saw the direction that the Phillies were going in and how they were playing at the time, knowing they were going to be in the playoffs. That’s the opportunity I wanted most. It wasn’t changing cities or teammates or anything like that.” On whether he would have gladly pitched for the Yankees or Red Sox after 11-plus seasons playing for their division rival, Toronto:“Well, it would’ve been different. Any time you’re basically raised in an A.L. East organization that’s not Boston or New York, you grow up hating them. But that’s also a sign of respect because they’ve been good for so long; you don’t hate the players — you hate getting beat by them. Obviously, they’re great markets, and that was appealing for us. Again: Where do we have the best chance of winning? Once we were able to get down to a couple teams, it would’ve been easy to go play for any of them.”
On the label of being the best pitcher never to pitch in the playoffs:“It’s one of those things you want to get over. It’s kind of a hidden compliment, I guess. But I think the longer you play, the more important that part of the game is. When you’re younger, it doesn’t bother you as much because you’re in the big leagues and trying to have your own success. But that changes.” On his desire to experience the postseason for the first time:“It’s the one driving force. I feel like I’ve been fortunate to accomplish different things that I didn’t necessarily set out to accomplish but was able to do it anyway. And I think through all of that I realized how important winning is to me. It’s not a lot of fun playing in September knowing you’re leaving to go home October 1. That is definitely very hard.” On his penchant for finishing games he starts (Halladay led all pitchers in the 2000s with 47 complete games):“Finishing games is not necessarily the end goal for me. It’s more based on competing as long as I possibly can, and some days seven innings is pretty good. The complete games just kind of come. That’s obviously a very satisfying feeling to walk off the mound at the end of the game, but just being able to compete as long as I possibly can is what’s most important. I’m not wanting to come out of the game, not looking forward to saying, ‘I made it through my seven.’ I never look for that finish line.” On his best way to describe Philadelphia fans:“I would say passionate. That’s what it comes down to. Their priorities are what every player’s should be, and that’s championships. There’s not going to be a ton of sympathy. They feel what every fan feels — they just express it better. (Laughs).”
On whether he’s the best pitcher in the National League East, his new division:“I’d never vote for myself. (The Mets’) Johan Santana has always been fun to watch. The way (new teammate) Cole (Hamels) pitched in the playoffs a couple years ago and at times last year, I think he’s up there. Some of the Marlins’ younger guys are scary — Josh Johnson. There’s a lot of talent.”
If you're keeping track, it's exactly one week today that the pitchers and catchers officially report to Bright House Field. Their first workout is Thursday.
Weather permitting, I'll be descending on Clearwater this weekend, and I'll be there for the duration, every day, so be sure to check back early and often for updates from spring training.
In a few hours, that rascally, famous February rodent Punxsutawney Phil will emerge from his hole and let us know what he thinks about Mother Nature's plan for what's left of the official winter season.
With spring training on the horizon -- the first workout is two weeks from Thursday -- Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. entered a conference room at the Crowne Plaza in Cherry Hill, NJ and gave his own forecast.
The 2010 Phillies are better than Version09.
Amaro spoke to reporters before the Phillies were honored as the "Team of the Year" at the 106th edition of the Philadelphia Sportswriters Association's annual banquet. Here's a little of what the GM of the city's top team said (for more, check out the Daily Times Tuesday -- on the newsstand and at delcotimes.com).
"I will tell you think," Amaro said. "I think our rotation is better, I think our overall club on the field is better. We have more experience, we have more All-Star players playing every day. I think our bench is better. Whether we stay healthy and we play good baseball, that’s kind of up to the players at this stage of the game and up to the baseball gods. I think overall our club, I believe our club is better going into spring training than it was last year."