August 29, 2011
A PAIR OF ACES go wild today and tomorrow (that's celebrating wild, not pitching wild). Happy birthday to righthanded, soft-spoken, funny-face-making Roy Oswalt (left), 34 today, and to lefthanded, home-run-hitting, behind-the-back-catching Cliff Lee (right), who strikes out a couple of cool threes (that's 33) tomorrow. What to give the Phils' dominators on (but far from over) the hill? A couple of Phanatic Pillow Pets? Coordinating Phiten necklaces? 'Cause we already got you your (Hunter)
August 21, 2011 |
WASHINGTON - When the Phillies unveiled the Four Aces inside a Clearwater, Fla., cafeteria in February, Roy Oswalt sat silently and grinned. Nothing could derail the image of those pitchers forming one of the greatest rotations ever - except, oh, the daily grind of a 162-game season. That grind claimed Oswalt on a rainy April night in South Philadelphia, when he grabbed his back and left a game. Two months later, in front of a locker in St. Louis, he wondered aloud about his future when the pain in his back was too great.
August 19, 2011
WASHINGTON - When the rain finally stopped Friday night and baseball resumed after a 2-hour, 22-minute delay, Roy Oswalt no longer was the starter for the Phillies against the Washington Nationals. Instead, Saturday's starter, Kyle Kendrick, took the mound. Oswalt never threw a pitch Friday because the game was halted in the top of the first inning. But he did complete his warm-up routine. And since he is two starts removed from a back injury, the Phillies decided to be cautious.
August 14, 2011 |
There may be no higher praise for the Phillies starting rotation than acknowledging that Roy Oswalt almost had become a forgotten man even though he finished in the top five in Cy Young Award voting five times in his 10 seasons. Among the Four Aces, the righthander became the one standing in the background, bouncing up and down on his toes as if he were making an attempt to remind everyone his creaky back has yet to fully get the best of him. Oswalt is now among the more interesting story lines for the remainder of the season as the Phillies hope to put every piece in place for their single-minded pursuit of returning to the World Series.
August 10, 2011
LOS ANGELES - Baseball players are a different breed, a product mostly of the grueling 162-game season. Superstitions permeate the clubhouse throughout the season. A 10-game West Coast trip is the perfect setting for zaniness. So that's how a reggae version of the famous "Rubber Duckie" song from Sesame Street has become a mainstay on the pregame music playlist in the Phillies clubhouse. Roy Oswalt used strength and conditioning coordinator Dong Lien's iPod one day in San Francisco and stumbled upon the song, which is a favorite of Lien's daughter.
August 8, 2011 |
SAN FRANCISCO - It is hard to forget the way Roy Oswalt's voice sounded when he acknowledged his own mortality on a Thursday night in St. Louis. As he talked about the back pain that had drained him of his ability to retire major league hitters, a gut-wrenching uncertainty lingered beneath his words. After a gaggle of reporters peppered him with questions he could not answer, the veteran righthander slipped out of Busch Stadium and into an uncertain future. Yesterday, 6 weeks after he acknowledged that he could not pitch through the pain in his lower back, Oswalt rejoined the Phillies' rotation for the finale of their four-game series in San Francisco.
August 8, 2011 |
SAN FRANCISCO - Although this year's narrative for these two rivals is far from complete, so long as it follows the expected arc, the final regular-season game between the Phillies and Giants shows that one contest can mean much or little, depending on the viewpoint. San Francisco won, 3-1, on Sunday, but the Phillies gained something important: confidence. The Phils failed to sweep the Giants here for the first time in 27 years, and a nine-game winning streak died, but that was of little worry to the Phils.
August 7, 2011 |
SAN FRANCISCO - The signs must be painfully clear for Ben Francisco. He has been a Phillie since July 29, 2009, a toss-in in the first Cliff Lee trade who established himself as a productive bench player. And remember when he entered this season as the starting rightfielder, the heir apparent to Jayson Werth? But on Sunday, he very well could find himself in the minors for the first time in three years. Consider: He started four games during the entire month of July.
August 2, 2011 |
MOOSIC, Pa. - Roy Oswalt was encouraged by his second rehabilitation start and expects his next start to be for keeps with the Phillies. Oswalt pitched six innings and allowed seven hits and two runs, both earned, as the Lehigh Valley IronPigs beat the host Scranton Wilkes-Barre Yankees, 4-2, in the first game of a doubleheader on Monday at PNC Field. He struck out four and walked two, throwing 94 pitches, 61 for strikes. When asked if he sees any reason why he shouldn't start in one of the weekend games in San Francisco against the Giants, Oswalt, not a man of many words, replied, "I don't think so. " Rehabilitating from a back injury, Oswalt consistently threw in the low 90s, topping out at 92 m.p.h.