The Phillies hosted two exhibition games this weekend, signaling the end of Spring Training and the start of the regular season on Monday. As they have the past several years, the Phillies planned a number of special events and surprises on Friday and Saturday.
Friday began with the On-Deck Reception, hosted by the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce. There were players signing autographs, several Q & A sessions with players and coaches, and an on-field introduction of the entire team:
I personally got autographs from Domonic Brown (and a photo as well), Erik Kratz, John Mayberry Jr. and Antonio Bastardo. This was my first time attending this particular event and it was well worth the effort. The only bummer of the day was I discovered that the autofocus on my very expensive camera had died :O( Ugh. So I apologize in advance for 2 days worth of so-so photos, as I had to use my mediocre eye sight to manually focus a very large lens.
The prior to the evenings game, players wandered around the stadium greeting fans and some stopped for photos. I had my picture taken with John Lannan, Antonio Bastardo, Humberto Quintero and hitting coach Wally Joyner.
Cliff Lee started the game that night and looked ready to go for the season. But his real highlight was helping Cole Hamels man the Phanatic’s hot dog shooter between innings:
To be honest, the game was rather boring, so the hot dog-interlude was a very welcome distraction. The Phils lost 1-0.
More fun was happening prior to Saturday’s game as well. After some very stealth stalking on my part, I managed to get photos with a few new guys and a Hall of Famer: Mike Adams, Ender Inciarte and third-base-coach/HOF guy, Ryne Sandburg. That was pretty awesome. Both exhibitions games were well worth the trip because of these little extras.
The game itself, however, did not go well against a very potent Blue Jays line-up. The Jays beat up on Kyle Kendrick, who gave up 5 runs in 3 innings. John Lannan took over for the next 3 innings and held the Jays to 1
more run. It was not quite out of reach for the Phillies though until very late. Here are a few highlights:
And Cliff Lee finally got his turn at the helm of the hot dog cannon, with Hamels “feeding” the device:
The end result was a 10-4 loss. But luckily, the game did not count.
The Phillies announced the Opening Day roster afterwards. There were not too many surprises there:
Rotation (5): Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Kyle Kendrick and John Lannan.
Bullpen (7): Jonathan Papelbon, Mike Adams, Antonio Bastardo, Chad Durbin, Phillippe Aumont, Jeremy Horst and Raul Valdes.
Catchers (2): Erik Kratz and Humberto Quintero.
Infielders (6): Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Michael Young, Kevin Frandsen and Freddy Galvis.
Outfielders (5): Ben Revere, Domonic Brown, John Mayberry Jr., Laynce Nix and Ender Inciarte.
Inciarte is a Rule-5 guy; they have to keep him on the roster or offer him back to the D-backs. Only 22-years old, he has never played above High-A level. He offers some depth in the outfield for now. Plus, he is adorable, so I approve ;o)
So here we are, finally! Opening Day! Game time is 7:10pm Monday night in Atlanta.
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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
The Phillies have announced their Opening Day roster, which includes 12 pitchers, two catchers, six infielders and five outfielders:
Pitchers (starters in BOLD): Right-handers Joe Blanton, Roy Halladay, David Herndon, Kyle Kendrick, Jonathan Papelbon, Chad Qualls, Michael Stutes and Vance Worley, and left-handers Antonio Bastardo, Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee and Joe Savery.
Catchers: Carlos Ruiz and Brian Schneider.
Infielders: Freddy Galvis, Pete Orr, Placido Polanco, Jimmy Rollins, Jim Thome and Ty Wigginton.
Outfielders: John Mayberry Jr., Laynce Nix, Hunter Pence, Juan Pierre and Shane Victorino.
The only surprise here is probably Joe Savery. The shock is not really that he made the team after a very sold spring, but that he made it to the majors at all after a rollercoaster minor league career. Savery, a former first-round draft pick, looked like his pitching career was over before it started as his ERA ballooned to well over 4.00 in 2008 and went steadily downhill through 2010.
That offseason, Savery was converted to a hitter instead where he initially had amazing success. Then after 9 months of not tossing a pitch, Savery was promoted to AA Reading and AAA Lehigh Valley where they decided he should become a relief pitcher.
No one knows how it happened or why, but suddenly, Savery could pitch again. He finished 2011 in the minors with a 1.50 ERA in 25 games as a reliever. And this spring, Savery pitched well enough to earn a roster spot. The only question now is, how long will this run last once players start coming off the DL? It appears that will up to Savery. Best of luck to him!
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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
Hearts stopped all over Phillies nation today as pitcher Roy Oswalt fell to the ground after appearing to get hit in the head with a line drive. Always cool under pressure, Oswalt adjusted his cap as he lay on the ground awaiting assistance.
Oswalt walked off the field as if nothing happened but was taken to the hospital as a precaution. Both X-Rays and CAT-Scans were negative.
As it turns out, the ball just barely missed a potentially dangerous area and hit just below the right ear, leaving him with a neck contusion. Had Manny Ramirez hit the ball any harder though, it may have been a lot worse.
The good news is that Oswalt’s head is apparently made of bricks.
The really good news is that he should be fine and is expected to make his next scheduled start. Whew!
So while Oswalt had a near miss in the 4-1 loss to the Rays, Luis Castillo had a total miss. In his first appearance as a Phillie, Castillo went 0-4 at the plate while grounding out twice, lining out and hitting a soft pop-up. He also left four men on base.
One can only assume that the strikeout for Castillo will come in tomorrow’s game as he finishes up demonstrating all the different ways to make an out.
Just to recap, Castillo was given a second chance by the Phillies after being tossed out like the trash by the Mets. He then proceeds to show up two days late to camp with lame excuses. When finally put into a game, Castillo showed the Phillies nothing. Basically, he sucked.
There are only seven games to go for Castillo to show he is better than Wilson Valdez, who should get the job in place of Chase Utley as he has earned it. But alas, the charade will go on as games continue.
Then again, at the rate injuries have come this spring for the Phillies, maybe they should just sit all the roster players and let the minor leaguers play the final spring games.
The regulars should be instructed to cover themselves in bubble wrap and avoid all sharp objects or anything moving at rate faster than 0.5 MPH.
Pretty much, contact should be limited only to turtles who have had their claws clipped and jaws muzzled.
Although, that sounds a bit cruel to the turtles so, let’s make it goldfish. Yeah, goldfish are pretty harmless, right? Wait…both turtles and goldfish can carry Salmonella, which can infect humans! Damn it! No one is safe!
And that is your animal science lesson for the day. Now, back to the bubble wrap…
Those who were hoping for an Opening Day miracle in the form of a healthy Chase Utley are going to be sorely disappointed. The signing of veteran second baseman, Luis Castillo, to a minor league deal means that Utley may be down for a long time.
This move seems like the Phillies are taking out the Mets trash in the hope of turning it into treasure. But Castillo was just released from the Mets for poor performance and a poor attitude. The move cost the Mets $6 million to eat Castillo’s contract. With that in mind, they must have wanted him gone very badly.
Once upon a time, Castillo was a very good player. But this 35-year old is coming off a season where he hit only .235 with 17 RBI and played just 86 games due to injuries.
And guess what body part gives Castillo the most issues? His legs, more specifically knees, ankles and feet, have been trouble for Castillo for many years now. So the Phillies are trying to replace a second baseman with a bad knee with another second baseman with a bad knee?
There are at least four guys already in camp with the Phillies who can replace Utley temporarily. This includes Wilson Valdez, Michael Martinez, Josh Barfield and Pete Orr. All have hit well, especially Valdez who is batting .419 in 43 at-bats.
But the Castillo contract is low-risk as the Phillies have to pay him less only $414,000 if he makes the 25-man roster. However, can they accurately assess Castillo’s play with only nine games to go?
This move stinks of desperation from a team that has maxed out its payroll. And it also does not bode well for the present or future of Utley.
Clearly, the knee issue is much worse than anticipated. And the fact that surgery has not been done yet is an even bigger red flag. If the Phillies are so worried that surgery could make matters worse, then Utley’s future, even beyond 2011, is a huge question mark too.
Hang on, Phillies fans. This is going to be a very long and very strange trip through the 2011 season.
Photo by Eric Kilby, Wikimedia Commons
The list right now has 12 pitchers, although the Phillies could add David Herndon and go with 13. Kyle Kendrick has not had a good spring, but the Phils are paying him too much to send him back to AAA. It could happen, as Herndon has been pretty good, but it is unlikely.
What is more probable is that the Phillies will choose to carry an extra infielder or utility player because of the Chase Utley situation. Odds are very good that Utley will start the season on the disabled list with Wilson Valdez filling in at second base. However, this still leaves an extra roster spot open.
The list above includes Michael Martinez, who has played well enough to earn a spot and he plays multiple positions. Plus, Martinez is a Rule 5 player. If the Phillies do not put him on the roster, they have to offer him back to the Nationals. With the way Martinez has played, the Nationals would probably take him back.
That leaves one bench spot for either Pete Orr, Josh Barfield or Delwyn Young. Barfield has been very good at the plate, hitting .355 with three doubles and a triple. He is also speedy, which is a plus.
But Barfield’s main weakness appears to be defense. While he has not committed any “official” errors, Barfield has fumbled the ball more than once. In Saturday’s match-up with the Orioles, Barfield dropped an easy double play ball, did not get any outs and left Cole Hamels hanging. Hamels was having a rough day to begin with, so this did not help.
As for Orr, he is experienced and can play second, third and a little outfield. Orr is batting .343 with three doubles and three triples this spring. Orr also strikes out less than Barfield and Young, but his fielding is average.
That leaves Young, who is intriguing because he can play almost anywhere. However, his fielding is not very good. A lifetime .258 hitter, Young is batting .298 with one home run, seven RBI and two doubles this spring. He is probably the least likely to make the team.
However, there are still nine games left in Florida and two exhibition games in Philadelphia before the season begins. Each player still has time to make a big push towards earning a roster spot.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
The Phillies made two moves on Tuesday that may indicate a few deals are in the works at the Winter Meetings. Pitchers Jesus Sanchez and Yohan Flande were released from the 40-man roster, likely to make room for a few additions. One of those additions is rumored to be ex-Phillie Aaron Rowand.
Rowand has two more years and $24 million left on his contract with the Giants. After a down year in 2010 and losing his starting spot, the Giants have implied that Rowand is no longer in their plans going forward. If the Giants are willing to eat most of his salary, Rowand could possibly return to Philly.
Best known for smashing his face against the centerfield wall at Citizens Bank Park to make a game-saving catch in 2006, Rowand was also the leader in the clubhouse and well loved by players and coaches alike. He was never afraid to call out a teammate who was slacking. This kind of fire is what Charlie Manuel loves about Rowand. It may also be motivation to bring him back.
In 2007, Rowand had a career year with the Phillies, batting .309 with 27 homers and 89 RBI. He also made the All-Star team that year. Since departing for San Francisco, Rowand’s numbers have steadily declined. At the time, critics said the move to a larger ballpark might affect his production and that appears to be the case. On the flip side, a return to the smaller confines of Citizens Bank Park may give new life to Rowand’s bat.
In addition, Rowand will have something to prove wherever he lands. This is a guy who plays the game hard and takes pride in his performance. Losing his starting job may have been the kick in the backside he needed.
Another upside is that Rowand can play either center or right field, just as Jayson Werth was able to. Neither Domonic Brown or Ben Francisco would likely be effective in center in the event that Shane Victorino is hurt or needs a break. And right now, Victorino is the only true centerfielder on the roster. Even if it is just coming off the bench, Rowand could fill that role while Brown and Francisco patrol right field.
Whether or not the Phillies decide to work out a deal with the Giants for Rowand is still unknown. But if the price is right, Rowand could be a real asset and maybe inject new life into this Phillies team.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
The Phillies added one more alumni back to the organization this week. Former Phils All-Star 2nd baseman, Mickey Morandini has been assigned to manage Class A Williamsport next season. He had been coaching High School baseball and also helped out the Phillies during Spring Training over the past several years as well. Morandini joins other former teammates hired this offseason in coaching roles including Juan Samuel and Ryne Sandberg.
Earlier this week as well, the Phillies picked out 5 young players to add to the 40-man roster in order to protect them from being selected in the Rule-5 draft. This is the current roster below with those 5 players highlighted in blue and I added their fielding positions as well:
In addition to these players, 12 non-roster players have been invited to Spring Training:
- Josh Barfield, INF
- Eddie Bonine, RHP
- Tagg Bozied, INF/OF
- Ryan Feierabend, LHP
- Erik Kratz, C
- Jeff Larish, INF
- Dan Meyer, LHP
- Matt Miller, OF
- Brandon Moss, OF
- Pete Orr, INF
- Juan Perez, LHP
- Dane Sardinha, C
Most of these players have a good amount of major league experience and if they do not make the team, they will probably help fill up the AAA roster. It is thought that if southern Jersey native Dan Meyer is healthy, he may have a shot at a bullpen spot. And Pete Orr could end up as a utility man since he plays multiple positions. The rest are long shots.
This list of players also means we have likely seen the last of Mike Sweeney, which is very sad. Many had hoped he would at least get an invitation to spring training as he was a powerful positive force in the clubhouse since arriving in Philly. He may choose to retire; whatever he does, we wish him the best! Sweeney’s team spirit and upbeat attitude will be missed.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography