May 4, 2016 |
ST. LOUIS - The Phillies' starting pitching - which had carried the team for the last week - finally gave way Monday night. Fireworks boomed from the Busch Stadium scoreboard five times, celebrating each Cardinals home run. They illuminated the night sky as the Cardinals lit up the Phillies in a 10-3 win. Jeremy Hellickson was responsible for three of those displays as he was tagged for six runs. Hellickson has allowed four runs or more in three of his last four starts. He was relieved by Brett Oberholtzer, who helped trigger two fireworks shows en route to three runs.
April 25, 2016 |
Jerad Eickhoff was three years removed from being a 15th-round pick and even further from being considered a prospect. The pitcher was instead a middling minor-leaguer, struggling to find success on baseball's lowest rungs. Then, in the summer of 2014, he struck up a conversation with Mark Connor, a roving pitching instructor in the Texas Rangers' farm system. Connor told Eickhoff to throw his curveball more. He believed that American League pitchers who offered a heavy dosage of curveballs were more likely to succeed.
April 21, 2016 |
Maikel Franco slogged into Tuesday with just two hits in his last 20 at-bats. He has begun the season without the plate discipline that carried him last year. According to the FanGraphs website, Franco has swung at 38 percent of pitches outside the strike zone this season. That mark is nearly 4 percent higher than last season's. And Franco has connected with just 55.3 percent of those pitches, a mark that is 7 percent lower than last season's. Franco struggled with plate discipline in the minor leagues as the Phillies wanted him to resist overswinging and find a patient approach.
April 20, 2016 |
David Lough was sitting on his couch watching TV on Sunday night when he missed his call to the majors. Lehigh Valley manager Dave Brundage left a message, telling Lough to call him back. The outfielder then learned he was joining the Phillies. His two-week stint with the triple-A IronPigs was finished. Lough, who replaced Cedric Hunter, will be used in a platoon with rookie Tyler Goeddel as the Phillies continue their search for a leftfielder. Hunter had one hit in his last 23 at-bats before he was optioned.
April 13, 2016 |
Aaron Nola has thrown 14 innings without walking a batter. But the Phillies have yet to win a game started by their 22-year-old righthander, and Nola was left with a bad feeling about one curveball he threw to Wil Myers. "It hung," Nola said. "It just hung. He put a good swing on it. " Nola allowed four runs in seven innings of Monday's 4-3 loss to San Diego. He had nine strikeouts. Nola was hurt, Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said, by his secondary stuff. The curveball to Myers, inside but high, "wasn't a good pitch," Mackanin said.
April 1, 2016 |
CLEARWATER, Fla. - A fresh, clean suit hung inside each locker stall Wednesday morning. Spring training's final day had arrived. The Phillies broke their six-week camp with an 8-4 win over the Houston Astros. They packed their belongings in red duffel bags, departed Bright House Field on a bus, and boarded a chartered flight to Philadelphia with a bit of optimism. The Phillies believe they will win more games than they did last season. They may be a bit confident, but it is not a stretch to expect this season's team to be more competitive than the group that lost 99 games a season ago. The starting rotation is deeper, prospects could infuse energy, and manager Pete Mackanin will bring his wisdom and wit for an entire season after taking over last June.
March 31, 2016 |
ON THE LAST day of my two-week tour/trip/junket through Clearwater, Fla., last month, I suggested to Bob McClure that he had the least enviable job in baseball last year. He responded with a quizzical squint. Fortunately, I am used to such looks, so I was ready with an explanation of what I actually meant, which was that being the guy in charge of the Phillies' pitching staff last year was like being the guy in charge of Martin O'Malley's presidential campaign. Sometimes it's the fiddler, sometimes it's the fiddle, but every now and then it's the instrument supplier who mistakenly shipped you a trailer full of bassoons.
March 25, 2016 |
CLEARWATER, Fla. - They assemble each day in the predawn dark, crowding into the Paul Owens Clubhouse of the Phillies' minor league complex. Many eat their breakfast on the stools or floor in front of their lockers, the seats and tables in the small kitchen already filled with players. Sprinkled among this mess of hopefuls are the hoped-fors - players belonging to a much smaller subgroup, some already familiar to Philadelphia baseball fans thirsty for the next era of good baseball to begin.
March 23, 2016 |
CLEARWATER , Fla. - "Bwooosh," Cameron Rupp said, skimming the palm of one hand just over the top of his head. "When I got drafted they had another kid ahead of me that I had to play in front of. And then when they traded Hunter Pence, they brought Tommy Joseph over . . . " These days, there are two Phillies catchers of the future, neither named Cameron. Andrew Knapp, their 2013 second-round pick, will start the season in Triple A. Jorge Alfaro, one of the prospects received in the Cole Hamels trade, will begin at Double A. Both, Rupp reads over and over again, are expected to be with the Phillies real soon.
March 5, 2016 |
CLEARWATER, Fla. - When Jake Thompson was traded to the Phillies last summer it was the second time in almost exactly a year that he had been dealt. The righthanded pitcher said his first trade - which moved him from Detroit to Texas - forced him to try to prove his worth. He tried to overdo everything. Each fastball was thrown at maximum speed. He was pushing himself, Thompson said, to do things he was not capable of. Thompson wanted to be perfect. Instead, he struggled. The pitcher registered a 4.31 ERA in 23 starts as a Rangers minor-leaguer.