July 4, 2016 |
BRIDGEWATER, N.J. - You could see why they wanted him. Anthony Hewitt took batting practice Wednesday, and everything looked right. Hewitt is 6-foot-1 and 215 pounds, his beefy upper body tapering to his feet like a giant V, and at each pitch he took an easy inside-out swing from the right side of home plate. Still, the ball rocketed off his bat: a line drive to the right-center-field gap, a deep fly ball to the warning track, so easy. As a senior in high school, Hewitt had put on an awe-inspiring batting-practice display that had helped persuade the Phillies to select him in the first round of the 2008 Major League Baseball amateur draft.
June 15, 2016 |
TORONTO - The first in the next wave of Phillies prospects stepped onto the turf at Rogers Centre for a television interview Monday afternoon, and some of his new teammates watched. A few heckled Zach Eflin, who will start Tuesday. Some of them reminisced about their own big-league debuts. Another bear-hugged the 6-foot-6 righthander. Eflin is not the most hyped of the formidable minor-league talent the Phillies have assembled, but he arrived to the majors first. The 22-year-old pitcher saw significance in that.
June 6, 2016 |
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - The Wake Forest pitcher threw Corey Ray an inside fastball, and the Louisville outfielder popped it to shortstop. Ray, one of the top collegiate players in the country, trotted back to the dugout. He opened a black notebook. Ray, 21, viewed his junior year as a time to refine the skills that made him a consensus top-10 pick in this week's Major League Baseball draft before the season even started. He wrote "F6" in his journal. Underneath the failed result, he logged the lesson with three words.
June 3, 2016 |
'ONE OF the hardest guys I've ever had to send out," Pete Mackanin was saying as the afternoon clouds over Citizens Bank Park darkened. "Outstanding teammate, just a great guy. Always upbeat, pulled for everybody, knew his role and accepted it. Just hated to see him go, but we had to do it. " So began another chapter of the Ryan Howard saga, the latest among the comically indecisive missteps that have filled this team's encyclopedia. The Phillies' manager could have been talking about Howard this way, should have been describing him in the glowing terms on his way out that were instead used to announce the demotion of seldom-used bench player Emmanuel Burriss after the Phillies acquired a more prolific journeyman, Jimmy Paredes, for cash, earlier in the day. Howard's demotion to the bench in favor of rookie Tommy Joseph, for at least three games - but clearly what Mackanin hopes is longer - that was the squirm-in-your-seat story that followed, the latest sledgehammer hack on what was once the foundation of the team's golden era; the latest indignation for a man who said minutes later, more resigned than defiant, "I'm not going to quit.
May 9, 2016 |
MIAMI - Entering Saturday, Odubel Herrera stood with three National League stars. The Phillies centerfielder had started in every one of his team's games, a feat matched only by Joey Votto, Nolan Arenado, and Anthony Rizzo. Could Herrera start all 162? It is unlikely. Just four Phillies have done it, and only Jimmy Rollins has accomplished it in the last 32 seasons. But Herrera said 162 is a goal. And his manager, Pete Mackanin, sees some merit to the idea. "He's full of energy," Mackanin said.
April 5, 2016
'Son, is your sneaker on fire?" At a major-league game, my father discovered what burning marijuana smelled like. Thirty-five years ago, during a sunny but cold midweek April matinee at Shea Stadium, I identified for him the byproduct emitted from performance-enhancing joints shared between Mets aficionados two rows behind us, adding yet another chapter to the already colorful bond baseball forged among our typically dysfunctional, large Irish-Catholic family....
February 27, 2016 |
CLEARWATER, Fla. - J.P. Crawford shuffled into the Phillies clubhouse Thursday morning, stashed a pair of bats in his locker, changed his shoes, grabbed his glove, and hustled outside. His instructor was waiting. The team's top prospect had arrived at the ballpark an hour earlier; he was one of the first position players there. Crawford stretched, lifted weights, and took batting practice. Now, the player the team hopes will blossom into a great shortstop headed to a side field to practice his defense under the tutelage of Larry Bowa, the first great shortstop in team history.
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.
December 12, 2015 |
NASHVILLE - The Phillies' rebuilding project, which began in earnest almost a year ago, continued to roll on this week at the winter meetings, most notably with Wednesday night's trade of closer Ken Giles. The deal added three more young pitchers and another intriguing outfielder to the franchise's arsenal of prospects. In 12 months, the Phillies traded seven players in exchange for 16 prospects as they drastically reshaped a downtrodden farm system. MLB.com ranks 10 of those prospects among the Phillies' top 16. All but one of those players, catcher Jorge Alfaro, is either an outfielder or a pitcher.
September 14, 2015 |
A DAY AFTER the Phillies removed Ruben Amaro Jr. as general manager, Jeff Francoeur was up to his usual antics in the team's clubhouse before a doubleheader with the Chicago Cubs, joking with his teammates, old and young, and making them practically fall out of their seats with laughter. Francoeur was all smiles, but he took no pleasure from the exit of Amaro, who gave the 31-year-old outfielder another shot in the big leagues when his career seemed to be fading around this time last year.