April 9, 2012 |
PITTSBURGH - The Phillies signed Chad Qualls in the winter because they valued his durability; no pitcher has appeared in more games since 2005 than the 33-year-old righthander. But three games into the season, Qualls is sidelined by a nebulous right heel injury he could barely describe, which only complicated the Phillies' middle-relief puzzle in Sunday's 5-4 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Qualls said it felt like a "knife was going at the back of my heel" when he was walking around in his spikes Saturday afternoon.
April 5, 2012
HE STOOD on the painted baseball that marked his 400th home run the other day, chatting up fans as part of the Phillies' On-Deck Series of games designed to add a little revenue for a payroll that is now beyond anyone's imagination, a payroll absorbing another $1.25 million so that the man who started it all could have one last stab at the ultimate prize. Jim Thome smiled and shook a hundred or so hands and told and listened to stories as more of the early crowd wandering around Citizens Bank Park found him and flocked toward him. I told him later it was like watching a family greet a beloved relative they rarely see, which is kind of what Thome has been since leaving Philadelphia after the 2005 season.
March 31, 2012 |
TAMPA, Fla. - Antonio Bastardo sat in the visiting clubhouse at George M. Steinbrenner Field and kept pounding his left arm, which was wrapped in ice, with his right fist. "I was feeling more power," Bastardo said. He pounded his arm again. "I was feeling on top of the ball," he said, "and I felt the whip of the ball. " That is a relief for the Phillies, who may have one less bullpen question. Bastardo started Friday's 13-9 Phillies loss to the Yankees and faced four batters.
March 26, 2012 |
CLEARWATER, Fla. - Jim Thome wore a wide grin in the Phillies dugout at Bright House Field before he even took batting practice Sunday morning. "Man, it's exciting," he said. The occasion was Thome's first appearance at first base in a major-league game since 2007. He played five innings in Sunday's 3-3 tie with Baltimore and mastered what little action was required. No balls were hit to Thome, who recorded three putouts. That didn't make it any less awesome for Thome.
March 25, 2012 |
FORT MYERS, Fla. - Fans at Bright House Field will see something Sunday that has not happened since June 30, 2005. Jim Thome, veteran slugger and likely Hall of Famer, will play first base for the Phillies. "I'm ready for the big show," Thome said Saturday after seeing his name in the lineup that was posted for Sunday's game against the Orioles. "I feel good. " With less than two weeks to go before opening day, the Phillies are still optimistic that Thome's 41-year-old body will enable him to make one or two starts a week at first base as Ryan Howard recovers from surgery to repair a ruptured Achilles tendon.
March 19, 2012 |
CLEARWATER, Fla. - Third baseman Placido Polanco said X-rays of his left ring finger taken after he left Saturday's game against Toronto were negative, and he categorized himself as day-to-day. "It's a little stiff today and a little swelling," Polanco said Sunday morning. "I jammed it, and it's day-to-day. I just have to see how I feel every day. " Assistant general manager Scott Proefrock described the injury as "a little sprain" and said Polanco would miss only a couple of days.
March 18, 2012 |
CLEARWATER, Fla. - As the sellout crowd at Bright House Field cheered a leadoff home run by Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins on Saturday, Jim Thome went through the task of testing his aging back for the second time this spring in a sparsely attended minor-league game at the Carpenter Complex. Thome, after being too sore from his first appearance Monday to play Thursday and Friday, gave a positive report after his four-inning stint with the Phillies' triple-A team. "After playing, I definitely felt a little bit of soreness the next day," Thome said.
March 13, 2012 |
CLEARWATER, Fla. - The experiment began Monday afternoon on Richie Ashburn Field at the Carpenter Complex when shortstop Tyler Greene, 19, fielded a grounder and tossed it to Jim Thome, 41, standing on first base. The future Hall of Famer could have quit long ago and he'd still be headed to Cooperstown. Seven players in baseball history have mashed more home runs than Thome. He is a legend, and dozens of Phillies minor-leaguers treated him as such. Yet here was Thome, 1,734 days removed from his last appearance at first base, manning the position in an intrasquad minor-league game.
March 12, 2012 |
CLEARWATER, Fla. - Two 40-somethings will invade Phillies minor-league camp Monday. Jose Contreras is scheduled to pitch in a minor-league game, marking his first game action of the spring. And Jim Thome will play four or five innings at first base for the first time this spring. Contreras is recovering from elbow surgery last September, and Phillies officials believe the 40-year-old Cuban can be ready for opening day. Exactly how ready will be the imperative question. The Phillies have padded his throwing schedule with extra days.
February 28, 2012 |
CLEARWATER, Fla. – The baseball offseason has not always been kind to Laynce Nix. Even though the 31-year-old outfielder has more than six years of major-league experience, he had never received a phone call from his agent in the offseason saying, "Hey, this team would love to sign you to a big-league contract, what do you think?" A year ago, he had to wait until February before he received a minor-league offer from the Washington Nationals. Then he hit 15 home runs in 324 at-bats, marking the third time in his career that he put up double-digit home runs as a part-time player.