Tagged: Roy Halladay

Rainy Halladay in Atlanta

After Roy Halladay began his first outing of the year by giving up 3 runs in the first inning, it was apparent that things were not headed in a good direction.  Pitching in the sloppy, cold rain did not help either, but it was the perfect metaphor for what was about to unfold for the Phillies.  It was indeed a sad rainy and dreary day.

Halladay did not even make it past the 4th inning.  In 3 1/3, he put the Phils in a 5-0 hole.  And then Raul Valdes added 2 more for the Braves in that 4th inning, to make matters worse.

But I refuse to spew bad things about the Doc.  I will give him 3 strikes, as is appropriate, before I count him out.  While this should not happen, 3 bad starts in a row would signal the beginning of the end.

However, let’s not even go there.  On the bright side, Halladay did strike out 9 batters in just 3 1/3 innings.  And he totally made the day for Braves rookie, Evan Gattis, who pounded a home run off Doc for his very first major league at-bat.  There is night he won’t forget.  Halladay is clearly a generous man.

Was that stretching for a bit of good news?  Probably.  But it is preferable to hanging my head and crying into my oatmeal over 1 starting pitching performance.

On the other hand, this is going to be a very long 5 days…

The Phillies have one last hope to grab a game from the Braves tonight…Cliff Lee takes the mound at 7:10pm.

 

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Hamels Hammered on Opening Day

The Phillies got crushed by the Braves on Monday night in a 5-7 Opening Day loss.  But let us begin with a bit of good news…Chase Utley was amazing.  Utley collected 3 RBI on a homer, single and a triple, coming just a double short of hitting for the cycle.  And that concludes the ‘good news’ portion of the program…

In the bad news category, Cole Hamels faltered once again in his first start of the season.  Hamels has now lost his first start of the season in 5 of his last 7 attempts.  This year was different as he finally got to start on Opening Day, so the expectations were high.  Allowing 5 runs in 5 innings, including 3 home runs, was not exactly what everyone had hoped for.

I blame the facial hair.  Hamels had a full beard and mustache through most of Spring Training.  On Friday afternoon, the hair was still there.  But by Friday evening into Saturday, the beard disappeared.  Finally, by Monday at game time the fuzz was history.

I think all the furry drama threw his game off.  It was truly a hairy situation.

Facial hair aside, not much went right for the Phillies last night.  The offense, mostly Utley, kept trying to bail Hamels out, but the Braves just kept the runs coming.  And then Chad Durbin wound up allowing 2 more runs in relief without recording an out.

The main thing to focus on now is that this is just one game.  It was certainly a hugely disappointing game, but still a drop in the bucket.

The Phillies are off today; the next game with the Braves is Wednesday at 7:10pm.  This will be an interesting one as Roy Halladay makes his first start of the season.  Facing a potent Braves line-up will be a good test of whether Halladay is really ready to go or not.

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Weekend Prelude to Opening Day

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.

And here are the links to my photo albums from the weekend: Friday’s On-Deck Reception and Exhibition Game and Saturday’s Exhibition Game.

Go Phillies!

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies Putting All Their Eggs In One Basket

The Phillies have made a few egg-head moves in the last week or so.  First, they released utility infielder Yuniesky Betancourt, who will now reportedly sign with the Brewers.  And now they have released pitcher Aaron Cook, who appeared to be a lock as the unofficial 6th starter in the Phillies rotation.  Cook pitched in 6 spring training games, posting a 3.38 ERA over 18.2 innings.

Last year, Kyle Kendrick fit into this spot nicely, filling in when a starter was needed due to injury.  But Kendrick is #4 in the rotation now.  Cook performed well enough this spring to become the new Kendrick, but apparently a $100,000 bonus was too much for the Phillies to handle.  So instead of paying him, Cook was sent packing.

Granted, Cook did not pitch well in the majors over the past several years.  But neither did John Lannan, who coincidentally gave up 12 runs in his last 4 innings of work this spring.  And Lannan is starter #5.  Cook appeared to be improving and was the Phillies only veteran option to start a game in the event that a started gets injured.

The Phillies have now put all their eggs in one basket, filled with 5 starters, 2 of whom are on shaky ground.  Lannan is an unknown at this point; he has not been consistent this spring.  Even more frightening, Roy Halladay has been awful.  Last season, he pitched injured, and the results certainly showed it.  This spring, Halladay has been sick with a stomach virus, experienced a dead-arm, complained of fatigue and his velocity is way down.

If Halladay cannot get back to pitching like a major-leaguer, this team is in serious trouble.  And with Cook’s release, the only option they have if Halladay goes down is to toss a minor league pitcher into the fire and hope he does not get burned.  With the imminent arrival of the Easter Bunny this weekend and Opening Day on Monday, they had better hope their eggs do not start to crack.

 

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Phillies Spring: As The Tummy Turns…

The 2013 Phillies Spring Training is turning in a soap opera of sorts.  Strange things are afoot.  A recent “trade” report may be the strangest of them all.

According to a tweet from Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com and a short note in a MLB.com article, the Phillies have literally given away a solid minor league pitcher to the Angels.  Right-hander Michael Cisco averaged a 1.70 ERA with a combined 13-3 record over his last 2 seasons in the minors.  The 25-year old was sent to Los Angeles without as much as a handshake.  I am confused.

Can anyone out there shed some light on why anyone in their right mind would hand over a guy who could be a future major league pitcher for absolutely nothing in return?  Did they at least get a fruit basket out of it?  Or is this some weird, new baseball Mafia where the Angels will now owe Ruben Amaro Jr. a favor?  I guess he made them an offer they could not refuse.

Or worse, did Cisco do something so morally reprehensible that the Phillies would just cut him loose?  For a team that signed anger-management frequent flyer, Delmon Young, in the offseason, I find this theory to be highly unlikely.

So if none of the above theories hold water, the only remaining option is sheer stupidity.  Either that, or the media did not get the whole story.

And if that story does not make you feel ill, this one will: Roy Halladay went green for St. Patrick’s Day yesterday, and not in a good way.  He turned green on the mound and left after only one inning due to an apparent stomach virus.  All these little bumps in the road for Halladay this spring are beginning to pile up.

It has not been a good spring thus far for Halladay.  He has looked exhausted at times, even without a stomach bug, and his velocity has reportedly dipped.  While slow and steady wins the race, all we are seeing so far is the slow part.

This latest illness appears to be legit as teammate Jonathan Papelbon is reportedly sick as well.  However, Halladay fell ill a number of times in the last few seasons, plus he seems to tire faster, sweat more and turn red in the face pretty often.  And this spring, he has not looked well, even before reports of the stomach issue.  One almost has to wonder if there is more to the story here.

But I am not a doctor, so I will not speculate further.  Let us hope Halladay is well soon and will be ready for the start of the season.  In the meantime, more drama is nearly guaranteed to ensue…stay tuned.

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Baby Steps to a Rejuvenated Phillies Team

The first inning of the Phillies very first official Spring Training game on Saturday offered a glimpse into what the near future could look like for this team.  And it was a very nice picture, full of promise.

Ben Revere led off by doing exactly what we have been told he can do a lot of; run out an infield single.  He followed that up with a very convincing stolen base.  This kid can fly.

Another new Phillies, Michael Young, did his job moving the runner over the 3rd base.  It was textbook small ball; very nice.

And then for the first time in 3 years, Chase Utley stepped to the plate in a Spring Training game.  Utley needs to prove to the world, but mostly to himself, that he finally has his knee issues under control.  And he did just that with his classic, short swing and a line-drive that scored Revere from 3rd base.

In a perfect world, this is what the Phillies need to do every inning of every game.

However, in the real world, this is just one baby step towards a much larger goal.  Get this team healthy and the wins will come.

Roy Halladay took his own baby step on Sunday by starting a game against the Tigers.  He went 2 innings in his first spring action and allowed a solo homer.  But just having Halladay back on the mound and feeling no pain is comforting.

These games were not pretty, by any means.  But in Spring Training, they are not meant to be.  This is the time to make mistakes, learn from them and enter the regular season with total confidence.

Over the last few days, the Phillies have made those little strides.  And with any luck, things will progress in a positive direction from here.

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies Add More Pitching & Hamels Gets an Unpleasant Surprise

The Phillies have added three right handed pitchers;  Juan Cruz, Aaron Cook and Rodrigo Lopez.  They have each been asked to attend Spring Training as non-roster invitees on minor league contracts.

You may remember Lopez (photo to the right); he started 5 games for the Phillies in 2009.  He spent the last 2 years with the Cubs and in the minors.  Lopez, 37, has a career 4.82 ERA in the majors and compiled a 5.28 ERA in the minors last year over 18 games.

Cook and Cruz are both 34 years old.  Cook posted a 5.65 ERA in 18 starts with the Red Sox last year and will get $1.625 million if he makes the roster.  Cruz was with the Pirates in 2012 and went 1-1 with a 2.78 ERA in 43 games.

The combined age of all three pitchers is 105.  Clearly, these signings were not meant to help the team get any younger.  These are just more spare parts in case Cole Hamels breaks a finger nail or Roy Halladay’s arm falls off.

Hamels is already having a rough off-season.  In October, the star pitcher apparently had a sore shoulder, which the Phillies have since downplayed as being nothing serious.

And more recently, Hamels found out that the Philadelphia school system flat out lied to him in regards to donations he and his wife made to 3 Philly schools that are now slated for closure.  They were assured these schools would remain open.  The Hamels Foundation is now trying to save those schools so that the playgrounds and library they helped build do not get torn down and turned into apartment complexes or the like.

At least Spring Training is almost here…26 days to go!

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography