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.
February 29, 2016 |
CLEARWATER, Fla. - The Phillies will play the first of their 35 exhibition games Sunday at Bright House Field with the high expectation that they can at least beat the University of Tampa, the defending Division II national champion. It was an embarrassing loss to the Spartans in last year's exhibition opener that served as the trigger point for the Phillies' tumble to the bottom of the baseball standings. By the time the 99-loss season was over, they had a new manager and a new president, and were searching for a new general manager.
February 26, 2016 |
Cliff Lee will not pitch in the major leagues anymore. You are excused if you had forgotten that it was (technically) possible he might. After Lee had missed the entire 2015 season with a torn tendon in his left elbow, the Phillies had declined, in November, to pick up his option for 2016, paying $12.5 million to buy out his contract's final year. No other team signed him. He is 37 and has an unreliable arm, and 37-year-olds with unreliable arms don't often sign with major-league teams, even if they are left-handed and were once among the best pitchers in baseball.
February 25, 2016 |
After being turned away from last year's Victoria's Secret fashion show, former Phillies pitching ace Cole Hamels and his wife have sued a London-based concierge service they paid to provide them with tickets. In a lawsuit filed Friday in Common Pleas Court, the couple alleges that Cornucopia Events promised them a full VIP package, with perks including tickets to the November show in New York City, a four-night stay in a luxury hotel, a limousine stocked with champagne, and access to exclusive restaurants and "goodie bags.
February 21, 2016
AH, THE PHILLIES and spring training! The mere images breathe life back into a winter-weary fan base, so take a good look! Here they are again in Clearwater, and gone are many of the familiar names and faces that were part of so many spring-training rosters. Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Cole Hamels . . . gone. With an updated cast for 2016 comes hope. Our own experts tell us that the Phillies should be at least interesting this season - interesting in that maybe, just maybe, they won't be bordering on 100 losses again.
February 15, 2016 |
Jake Thompson scanned the near-empty clubhouse at Citizens Bank Park last month and saw other Phillies prospects who, like him, may not return to that room in 2016. But Forget that. Thompson, traded for one of the greatest pitchers in Phillies history, visualized a new era. He saw a former No. 1 pick who needed a second chance; an athletic outfielder from Texas with pop; a college catcher from California who batted .308; a Dominican with a 100-mph fastball; and a Rule 5 pick who lashed 10 triples and stole 28 bases for the Montgomery Biscuits.
February 1, 2016 |
About 60 kids clad in red T-shirts formed a line Saturday afternoon inside Maplezone Sports Institute to greet the ace of Phillies past. For two days this weekend, this sprawling complex in Garnet Valley hosted Cole Hamels, who posed for photos with each camper before one of three four-hour pitching clinics. The potential ace of Phillies future - the tallest one in the room - stood nearby. Jason Groome, a possible No. 1 choice in the draft in June, was a coach at Hamels' camp. The lanky lefthander with a powerful fastball from the Jersey Shore trains two days a week at Maplezone.