May 21, 2016 |
Andres Blanco practices his swing each afternoon in a lonely batting cage. He lifts weights and stretches without the company of teammates. Blanco - the Phillies super utility player - is the first player to arrive at Citizens Bank Park, pulling into the empty ballpark nearly seven hours before each game. Blanco left his native Venezuela 16 years ago with a $3,000 signing bonus. He is lauded for his work ethic and character. Blanco gets to the batting cage early so it will be open when the team's everyday players are ready to hit. Blanco hits the weight room first so the trainers can then focus their attention on the starting lineup.
May 18, 2016 |
The crowd rose Monday at Citizens Bank Park for an unfamiliar ritual, to laud a Phillies hitter. Tommy Joseph cracked a single up the middle to start the sixth inning of a 5-3 loss to Miami. It was the first major-league hit for the 24-year-old first baseman, and as the scoreboard flashed his achievement, the weeknight crowd roared. These moments are fleeting because the Phillies cannot have nice things. Six pitches later, Freddy Galvis erased Joseph. The shortstop bounced into a routine 5-4-3 double play.
May 16, 2016 |
The nadir of the Phillies' Latin American scouting and development program is easily identifiable. Look back at the 1989 season, and you'll find an opening-day roster that included as many players born in France as the Dominican Republic. When Juan Samuel was traded to the New York Mets later that season, the French population ruled over the Latin one inside the Phillies clubhouse. Vive la France never was a great slogan for a big-league baseball team, and since born-in-Paris shortstop Steve Jeltz was the only French representative, it really would have been a rotten one. Not surprisingly, the Phillies of that era were awful.
May 14, 2016 |
ATLANTA - No team in baseball has played more games on the road than this young Phillies squad, and after spending 19 of the last 22 days away from home, the players readied for a happy flight Thursday night. Their boundless 24-year-old leadoff hitter reached base five times against the hapless Braves in a 7-4 win. Their enigmatic 26-year-old shortstop crushed another home run. Their slumping 27-year-old catcher delivered the game-winning double in extra innings. The Phillies will come home, improbably, with one of the best records in the National League.
May 5, 2016 |
ST. LOUIS - Pete Mackanin visited the mound in the ninth inning of Wednesday night's 5-4 loss just as Busch Stadium was starting to become unglued. The Cardinals had the bases loaded. The Phillies had a one-run lead. Mackanin, the Phillies manager, told his closer to get a ground ball. A double play would end it. Jeanmar Gomez listened. He induced Stephen Piscotty to hit a grounder, but the ball was slapped wide of shortstop Freddy Galvis. Galvis slid to field the hit, but the game was tied.
May 3, 2016 |
The Phillies were Major League Baseball's surprise team in April. As the calendar has flipped into May, they have shown no signs of letting up. With righthander Vince Velasquez continuing his strong early-season showing, the Phillies swept their weekend series with the Cleveland Indians on Sunday with a 2-1 win at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies (15-10) have won six in a row and nine of their last 10. Did someone say wild card? OK, it's way too early for that kind of talk, but a team that many considered on par with the Atlanta Braves as possibly the worst in baseball has confounded the experts, at least for the first month.
May 2, 2016 |
Pete Mackanin walked to the mound Saturday night with two outs in the eighth inning of a 4-3 win over Cleveland. The manager took the ball from Elvis Araujo as the bullpen roulette wheel spun again. A new reliever - righthander Colton Murray - jogged through the opened bullpen door in center field at Citizens Bank Park. Another inning ended without a run crossing the plate as the manager's spins continued to come up winners. The Phillies bullpen has not allowed a run in five games, a streak that spans 16 innings.
April 29, 2016 |
WASHINGTON - The catalyst of this Phillies team with its implausible winning record through 21 games grinned as he tugged on his Nikes after Wednesday night's 3-0 shutout of the imposing Nationals. This mishmash of flawed veterans and inexperienced youth without expectations is sparked by a Rule 5-pick centerfielder who is not supposed to be this polished. Not yet, not for Odubel Herrera. And not for this team. "I feel like if I do a good job," Herrera said, "things start working for us. " The Phillies are 11-10.
April 27, 2016 |
The colored charts and graphs occupied a corner of Pete Mackanin's desk, and the 64-year-old baseball lifer inspected them on a recent afternoon. Spray charts. Hot zones. Swing tendencies. Pitch percentages. Those items were not always prioritized on the ground floor of Citizens Bank Park in previous seasons. "Numbers are important. Statistics matter," the Phillies manager said. "The new wave of analytics just delves deeper. " Baseball is awash with more information than ever, although it is still unclear what big data's place will be inside the Phillies clubhouse.
April 22, 2016 |
Peter Bourjos stepped out of the batter's box Wednesday night and watched his high fly ball drift toward the stands. David Wright charged over from third base, positioning himself to grab the third out of the 11th inning. Bourjos had seen Wright make this play before. The inning was over, he figured. Wright reached for the ball, but it landed just out of his reach, bounced off a metal advertisement box and fell into the crowd at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies had hope. And a pitch later they had a 5-4 win over the New York Mets as Bourjos beat out an infield single, scoring Freddy Galvis from third.