June 13, 2014 |
The grounds crew wanted to cover the field at Citizens Bank Park with a tarp Tuesday, but Larry Bowa needed more time. The coach swatted grounders at Cesar Hernandez in a drill that lasted long enough that the grounds crew plopped on the grass to bide time. Bowa and Hernandez were at it again Wednesday. The 68-year-old bench coach walked to the third-base cutout. He demonstrated how to best field a bunt. Then he rolled some balls Hernandez's way. The education continues. It could be another 10 days before Cody Asche, the Phillies' regular third baseman, returns from a left-hamstring strain that has sidelined him since May 22. Asche will start a rehab assignment Friday at single-A Lakewood.
June 7, 2014 |
Twenty-one years ago, the Phillies drafted a college pitcher, and when they signed him for $750,000 a month later, the kid took a tour of the home clubhouse at Veterans Stadium before reporting to a minor-league outpost in Batavia, N.Y. As the kid strolled past Macho Row, he stopped and shook hands with John Kruk, the unkempt and uninhibited first baseman of the 1993 National League champions. "Hurry," was Kruk's only advice to Wayne Gomes, a closer at Old Dominion University the same year Mitch Williams kept his Phillies teammates and an entire city on edge from the beginning of April through the end of October.
June 6, 2014 |
THE FIRST rule of the Major League Baseball draft is that none of us knows anything. None of us with bylines, anyway. All we can do is listen to the words of the guys who are paid to do this and then make some rudimentary calculations of the odds that we will ever see the player in question at the major league level. The baseball draft is all about projecting risk and measuring probabilities. It's an actuarial endeavor disguised as a meat market. Tools are easy to identify. The hard part is deciding whether those tools are worth the risk that they won't translate against better competition.
May 29, 2014 |
When the Phillies placed third baseman Cody Asche on the disabled list Sunday, Ruben Amaro Jr. spoke of top prospect Maikel Franco as a "possibility" to ascend to the majors. Two days later, the general manager was less convinced. "He's just not playing good enough baseball yet," Amaro said. "He's not really ready to be a big leaguer yet. " So, Ryne Sandberg started Cesar Hernandez at third Tuesday for the fifth straight game. Hernandez was 0 for 12 in his first four starts there.
May 23, 2014 |
MIAMI - Cliff Lee fired 32,869 regular-season pitches in the majors before an elbow or shoulder injury sidelined him. "This is new to me," Lee said Tuesday. He felt the pain in his left elbow when he turned a doorknob and when he lifted his body from a taxi. The Phillies hope two weeks will cure Lee's elbow strain. Lee is not sure. "I've never had anything like this," Lee said. "They seem to think that not throwing for a week, it should be quite a bit better. I don't know if it'll be gone, but you don't really know until you get there.
May 16, 2014 |
JESSE BIDDLE was at Game 5 of the 2008 World Series at Citizens Bank Park. He celebrated just like any Phillies fan when Brad Lidge recorded the final out, sending the city into a frenzy. That evening in South Philly was the peak of Biddle's fandom, and possibly a foreshadowing of things to come. A little more than 2 years later, Biddle had the chance to celebrate the makings of his own career with the Phillies. He heard his name called in the 2010 draft as the 27th pick of his hometown team.
May 11, 2014 |
The pitch seared in tight to Conor Biddle, and the lefthanded batter twisted slightly toward the catcher before the ball zapped him in the side of his right shin. Biddle dropped his bat, hobbled a couple of steps toward first base, took a deep breath, and broke into a slow trot. First-base coach Chris Coxe checked in with him when Biddle got to the bag. Playing with an abundance of eye black on his face, Biddle shook off the bruise and went on to contribute a key two-run single for Germantown Friends.
April 22, 2014 |
READING - Obstacles await every professional pitcher on the way to the big leagues, and Jesse Biddle just reached the part of the course where he got stuck in the mud. "They made the choice to put me back in double A, and at first I didn't know how to feel about it," Biddle said Saturday, the day after his most dominating start of the season for the Reading Fightin Phils. "But the fact is, when I stepped back and really looked at it, give me the ball once every five days, put me 60 feet, 6 inches away from the catcher and I'm going to have to work on something.
February 27, 2014 |
CLEARWATER, Fla. - The first two pitchers Ryan Howard faced in a spring game were lefthanded, and that suited Ryne Sandberg just fine. The Phillies manager watched Howard lace a single off Jesse Biddle and smash a homer to deep center off Cesar Jimenez. This was just an intrasquad scrimmage. But Sandberg expects Howard to spend the spring improving his craft against lefthanders. "He's talked to me about that himself," Sandberg said. "He's approached me about seeing lefthanded pitching.
February 27, 2014 |
CLEARWATER, Fla. - The intersections of rookies and veterans, All-Stars and former stars, multi-millionaires and guys waiting for their meal money, is probably never more interesting in a baseball season than in the first few weeks of spring training. Major league clubhouses in February bring all kinds together, seemingly for the same purpose. Some just have better job security. On a recent morning at the Carpenter Complex, a kid who celebrated his 17th birthday on the day of Game 1 of the 2008 World Series was approached by a former MVP. Jesse Biddle, the top prospect who grew up a Phillies fan, had just faced Ryan Howard, a three-time major league All-Star, and the hitter had some words of advice for the pitcher.