October 23, 2012
WHEN I WAS hired at this place, way back in 1992, the sports editor painted me a rosy picture. I could write features for a while, cover baseball for a while, and when the columnist nearing retirement age got there, why I could slip right into that spot if I showed the right stuff. I wound up earning the position, which is the way you want get a job anyway. Last month, I got a call from the local sportstalk station, WIP, which said it had lost its pooh-bah, or at least it thought it had, and would I like to try the gig. I said sure, what the hey, but after a few weeks someone asked (begged?
August 29, 2012 |
When your team is either well on its way to a division title or at least still fighting for a playoff spot, the September call-ups from the minor leagues have a far different meaning. In that scenario, you call up the players who give you the best chance to win on a nightly basis even if they're not considered top prospects. A year ago, for example, outfielder Brandon Moss was among the September call-ups for the Phillies because he had the ability to provide left-handed power off the bench.
August 1, 2012 |
SOMEONE ASKED during an online chat on Monday whether Pat Gillick was still involved in the Phillies' decision making process. And I thought, "Oh yeah, whatever happened to that guy?" Gillick is still listed as a Phillies advisor, but the days of Ruben Amaro Jr. referencing him at major press conferences — like the one announcing the 6-year, $144 million contract extension for Cole Hamels — has passed. During extended question-and-answer sessions after the formal one from the podium that day, not once did any of the principals involved reference the former Phillies general manager.
May 12, 2012 |
Even the off days are difficult ones for the Phillies right now. Instead of rest and relaxation, the Phillies had to do some roster juggling Thursday as they prepared for the start of Friday's three-game series against the San Diego Padres. Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said the team is "probably going to make some changes over the next few days," but he refused to comment on the Twitter revelation from recently demoted reliever Michael Schwimer that the team has promoted infielder Hector Luna and pitchers Jake Diekman and Raul Valdes from triple-A Lehigh Valley.
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.
February 27, 2012
CLEARWATER, Fla. - There is this perception, a conclusion really, that Michael Stutes and Antonio Bastardo wore out last season. Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee believes it, so does manager Charlie Manuel. The grind of a big-league pennant race got to the two young relievers, or so it goes, which may be one reason the Phillies have a slew of bullpen arms around this spring with major league resumès. Jose Contreras is throwing again and Dontrelle Willis looks pretty good, too. Chad Qualls, a veteran, durable, seventh-inning guy, is new, and journeymen lefties like Jeremy Horst and Pat Misch are here as well.
February 16, 2012 |
WHAT WE KNOW: Charlie Manuel and Rich Dubee will have plenty more options than they did for most of last season, when young relievers Antonio Bastardo and Michael Stutes were forced into the fire after injuries struck Jose Contreras, Brad Lidge and, for a stretch, Ryan Madson. The ninth inning wasn't a problem last year, and it shouldn't be one this year with Jonathan Papelbon replacing Madson. The 31-year-old former Red Sox closer relies primarily on a wicked fastball, occasionally offset by a splitter.
January 8, 2012
This time a year ago, the names Vance Worley and Michael Stutes were barely on the Phillies' radar. Even by the end of spring training, Worley had long been ticketed for triple-A Lehigh Valley while Stutes was teased with a trip north to Citizens Bank Park merely for two exhibition games before he, too, was an IronPig. Then they combined for 1932/3 major-league innings in 2011, quickly gaining the trust of manager Charlie Manuel and pitching coach Rich Dubee. Vance became Vanimal and Michael became Mike.
September 30, 2011 |
BILL CONLINDN writers make Phillies a unanimous pick BILL CONLIN PEOPLE WHO consider the Roy Halladay vs. Kyle Lohse Game 1 matchup an overlay should think again. The former Phils sinkerballer is the only member of Tony La Russa's starting rotation who has allowed fewer hits than innings pitched and is a solid 14-8. That said, Lohse pitches to contact, which is something the Phillies began to make again during their closing spurt to 102 victories. And he opposes a 19-game-winning horse who no-hit the Reds in Game 1 of the NLDS last October.
September 13, 2011 |
YOU KNOW that team you care so much about? Well, they're homophobic bigots. Those weren't the actual words used by my friend - an award-winning blogger and generally a pretty wonderful human being - but that's what the words he wrote in a Sept. 2 blog post meant to me. And they stung like hell. He'd sent me a private message saying, "I wanted to make sure you saw today's post - it features your beloved Phillies . . . " His blog generally focuses on LGBT issues, and the Phillies had just debuted their "It Gets Better" anti-bullying video.