February 6, 1995 |
Jim Coates, baseball fan and out-of-work auto mechanic, sat on a stool in a near-empty Johnny Be Good's diner and sports bar. Slowly draining a bottle of beer, he switched his attention from a televised basketball game to the muddled state of his favorite sport - and the havoc it might wreak on his hometown. "For a lot of people down here," Coates said, "spring training is the big deal. It's the only time we get to see real baseball. Take that away. . . . " Take that away and sleepy Port Charlotte and the 19 other Florida communities that host big-league teams every February and March might be in big, big trouble.
March 16, 2012
CLEARWATER, Fla. - Another day of spring training passed Thursday without an appearance from second baseman Chase Utley. The Phillies have played 15 Grapefruit League games and an exhibition against Florida State University without their five-time all-star second baseman, a player whose presence in the middle of the lineup will be more important than ever because of first baseman Ryan Howard's anticipated prolonged absence. You may be of the opinion that the only way to get ready to play the game of baseball is by playing the game of baseball, but at least in Utley's case, Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. does not agree.
January 19, 1993 |
The weather outside was frightful. The forecast was even worse. Lenny Dykstra, as fidgety in his spacious Main Line home one recent day as he is working a pitcher on an endless summer night, couldn't wait. Couldn't wait for the flight that since has transported him to the sunshine of Clearwater, Fla. 34617. Couldn't wait to bury the ghosts of the past two seasons, a tempestuous time littered with injuries and controversies. Couldn't wait, like a little kid on Christmas morning, to tear into the 1993 season and discover what wonders might be in store.
March 27, 2001 |
Looking for a reason to believe in these 2001 Phillies? You won't find it in the starting pitching over the last three days. Over that span, Robert Person, Bruce Chen and Randy Wolf - three pitchers who are being heavily counted on this season - were tagged for 22 hits and 15 earned runs in 10 2/3 innings, and manager Larry Bowa isn't happy about it. Ah, but it's only spring training. It doesn't matter. Hakuna matata. No worries. It will all be different when the regular season starts.
March 11, 2007 |
On Thursday, I will board a plane for a delightful string of days in balmy Florida. I love the beach, but I won't have a single bathing suit stowed in my suitcase. The purpose of my annual mid-March getaway is twofold - I go to Clearwater to watch baseball games, as many as I can fit into eight days. And I go to hang out with my dad, who taught me everything I know about being a Phillies fan. I tease him for his mercurial feelings about Phils manager Charlie Manuel and the terrible handwriting he uses when pinch-hitting for me at keeping score, as I do every game.
August 19, 2013 |
The door was open to Charlie Manuel's office, and the manager was fidgety. The summers blend together now because there were many. But this was three years ago, on a weekday morning at Wrigley Field, during happier days for a man who dedicated his life to baseball. Chances are he beat every one of his players to the ancient ballpark. Baseball needed Charlie Manuel. He wanted to talk to someone. Anyone. Manuel radiated in the hours before a game. He told jokes. He taught hitting. He held small children.
February 24, 2015 |
CLEARWATER, Fla. - Another catcher reported to the Phillies' camp Sunday morning and even though he will be unable to help the rebuilding process on the field, Darren Daulton was still the most welcome sight on these premises since spring training opened Thursday. That's especially true because he came bearing good news at a time when his former team could use it. After visiting his oncologist for an MRI examination in Florida, Daulton tweeted this on Thursday: "I'm incredibly blessed to have a clean scan.
February 23, 2015 |
CLEARWATER, Fla. - Starter-turned-reliever Ethan Martin is back to starting. At least for now. "He needs to pitch. He didn't get enough reps last year," Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said Saturday. "I think he needs to work on all his stuff and the command of all his pitches, and I think this is the best way to do it and get his arm strength going. " Martin, the 25-year-old righthander the Phillies acquired in 2012 from the Los Angeles Dodgers for Shane Victorino, spent last year as a reliever.
February 22, 2015 |
CLEARWATER, Fla. - First it was a rib cage injury. Then a fractured wrist. And finally struggles in winter ball. Last season, Darin Ruf said, was disappointing. "But it's a whole new year," he said Friday. "I feel healthy. I did some things this offseason to increase mobility and take some of the muscular injuries out of the game. " The Phillies' position players do not have to report to camp until next week. But the 28-year-old Ruf - and a handful of others - checked in early.
February 23, 2015 |
Winter seems a little deeper, more barren this year. It's not just the cold and snow. Here in Philadelphia, the normal spiritual thawing that spring training delivers has been negated by the Phillies' bitter-cold hopelessness. And so, in search of baseball-related sunshine - and, frankly, a column idea - I reached for Total Baseball, the game's statistical and historical encyclopedia. Perhaps an indiscriminately discovered fact could temper February's icy chill. Opening the behemoth book to a random page, 920 as it happened, I shut my eyes and blindly poked a finger.