May 30, 2013 |
CLEARWATER, Fla. - Carlos Zambrano sat in a chair in a corner of the Bright House Field clubhouse that is filled with vacant lockers. Inside the cubicle that serves as his temporary home, the veteran righthander peered at an iPad, where the telecast of the Phillies' game in Boston last night had been playing. "It's frozen now," Zambrano said of the now-buffering screen. If it is up to Zambrano, he will be pitching on one of those telecasts within the next 2 weeks. Make no mistake, the righthander says he is ready.
March 29, 2013 |
LAKELAND, Fla. - Less than 50 feet away from the spot where Torii Hunter called the pitcher's stuff "filthy" 5 weeks earlier, Charlie Manuel was asked about the ominous cloud hovering over his team entering the final day of camp. Roy Halladay will make his final spring start in the Grapefruit League finale Thursday afternoon at Bright House Field in Clearwater. It will be his first time on that mound since leaving a start more than 2 weeks ago with a stomach illness that sapped him of almost 10 pounds.
March 14, 2013 |
CLEARWATER, Fla. - It's the second full week of March, which means three things are happening in Florida: spring breakers are arriving en masse, everyone is Irish for a day and baseball fans are wondering what's happening with Roy Halladay. On March 14, 2012, Halladay had his pitches tattooed by the Minnesota Twins. He gave up five runs, including two home runs, and exited before recording the third out of the third inning. Afterward, scouts speculated that his stuff wasn't sharp or crisp and that his velocity was down.
March 13, 2013 |
CLEARWATER, Fla. - The Phillies' angst-o-meter had been turned off during the first four weeks of spring training. Ryan Howard was playing every day, Chase Utley said his knees felt fine, and Roy Halladay's most memorable moment was a purpose pitch he threw behind the back of Washington's Tyler Moore last week. No reason to worry here. Until now. In his fourth Grapefruit League start Tuesday at Bright House Field, Halladay had a lifeless fastball that topped out around 87 m.p.h.
March 8, 2013 |
CLEARWATER, Fla. - This time, it was a purpose pitch from Roy Halladay that got the blood flowing in a burgeoning rivalry between the Phillies and the Washington Nationals. You couldn't call it bad blood because the benches and bullpens never emptied, and there was no warning from the umpires. But you have to believe the day's events will be filed away as potential ammunition for a more heated confrontation when the teams meet for the first time in the regular season May 24 at Nationals Park.
March 7, 2013 |
CLEARWATER, Fla. - Here's something you might not know: From 2009-11, Laynce Nix' power production against righthanded pitchers ranked among some of the top lefthanded hitters in the game. Shin-Soo Choo, Brian McCann, Jason Heyward, Jay Bruce - none of them racked up extra-base hits against righties at a greater rate than Nix, who averaged a double, triple or home run every 8.61 at-bats. This little factoid is looking increasingly relevant as Opening Day grows larger on the horizon.
March 5, 2013 |
CLEARWATER, Fla. - Darin Ruf thought he had a chance to make a diving catch, but as he closed in and the ball accelerated to the ground, it just wasn't going to happen. And then came the sprint of shame: The converted first baseman had to hurry to the leftfield wall to retrieve the ball and heave it back to the infield to make up for the fielding miscue. "Those are the balls that, as they happen, I'll get a better feel of whether it's, 'I might be able to catch this ball,' or if I should let it fall for a single," Ruf said Sunday morning, 3 days after his two-base error at Bright House Field against the Atlanta Braves.
March 1, 2013 |
CLEARWATER, Fla. - Spring training is difficult to describe from a baseball writer's perspective. Whenever you talk to your friends, family, co-workers or bosses back north, the tone in their voices is a mixture of enthusiasm and envy, as if every minute they spend on the phone with you is 1 fewer minute you have to drink mai tais and play tennis and frolic on the beach as a warm breeze dances through your hair. And if you say anything that might attempt to temper their sense of wonder, the response is usually some form of a sarcastic, "Oh, OK, sure, whatever . . . have fun!"
February 28, 2013 |
CLEARWATER, Fla. - Several years in the future, fathers will take sons to their first spring training games at Bright House Field and they'll share the story of the ball Domonic Brown hit that may have never actually landed. The home run ball Brown hit on Tuesday afternoon off New York Yankees righthander Zach Nuding cleared the batter's eye in dead center. The distance from home plate to the wall is 401 feet, so tack on at least another 50 feet. At least. The ball may have very well landed on Route 19 and hitchhiked out of town.
February 22, 2013 |
CLEARWATER, Fla. - Chase Utley shuttled into position and fielded the ball, then fired a strike to Ryan Howard during infield practice Wednesday morning at the Carpenter Complex. This spring, Utley hasn't been working out alone or taking ground balls while seated on a stool. In the first 5 days of full-squad workouts, Utley has been in line with every other healthy player in camp. The positive path will continue when games begin in Clearwater. Manager Charlie Manuel said Wednesday that Utley would start in the team's intrasquad game Friday and would likely be back in the starting lineup when the Phillies open the Grapefruit League schedule Saturday in Clearwater against the Houston Astros.