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.
February 27, 2014 |
CLEARWATER, Fla. - The intersections of rookies and veterans, All-Stars and former stars, multi-millionaires and guys waiting for their meal money, is probably never more interesting in a baseball season than in the first few weeks of spring training. Major league clubhouses in February bring all kinds together, seemingly for the same purpose. Some just have better job security. On a recent morning at the Carpenter Complex, a kid who celebrated his 17th birthday on the day of Game 1 of the 2008 World Series was approached by a former MVP. Jesse Biddle, the top prospect who grew up a Phillies fan, had just faced Ryan Howard, a three-time major league All-Star, and the hitter had some words of advice for the pitcher.
March 5, 2014 |
CLEARWATER, Fla. - The Phillies have been in spring-training camp for most of three weeks and playing exhibition games for a week, and nothing has happened that might change the theme of this season. In fact, boring as it is, that theme will hold true on opening day, on Memorial Day and on Labor Day. While the Northeast is still hiding from the chill shadow of the actual Groundhog Day, the Phils live the proverbial one every time they take the field in the warm Florida sun. Their season - you might have heard this before - depends on nothing more than staying healthy enough to put a representative team on the field.
March 4, 2014 |
CLEARWATER, Fla. - The scoreboard at Bright House Field said 3-0 and the closer trudged toward the mound. But Jonathan Papelbon's team was losing and it wasn't the ninth inning, it was the fifth. It was also March 2 in the Grapefruit League schedule and not, say, May 2 at Citizens Bank Park against the Nationals. But Papelbon popped in a few fastballs that touched 93 mph on the radar gun en route to a 1-2-3 inning in the Phillies' exhibition game against the Pirates yesterday.
February 26, 2014 |
CLEARWATER, Fla. - It wasn't as important as the signing of A.J. Burnett or the news that Cole Hamels would be a little bit behind in this spring-training camp because of shoulder tendinitis. Make no mistake, however, people do care about who is going to be in the broadcast booth through the course of a 162-game baseball season. They care so much that the Phillies broadcast duo of Harry Kalas and Richie Ashburn became known simply as Harry and Whitey, legendary voices that had an impeccable rapport, a perfect sense of timing, and an even better sense of humor.
March 5, 2014 |
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. - The misadventure that was Mike Stutes' outing Monday ceased with a groundout by the ninth Tampa Bay hitter of the seventh inning. Stutes sauntered to the visitors' dugout at scorching Charlotte Sports Park. He flicked his black glove at the wooden bench. He admitted to overthrowing. Bad luck and poor defense conspired to derail the inning into a five-run blight. It was recorded as one horrible afternoon with the same value as Stutes' first appearance on Feb. 27, a scoreless inning, as he lobbies for a job in the Phillies' bullpen.
February 28, 2014 |
CLEARWATER, Fla. - The first pitch of Phillies spring training was reserved for Cole Hamels, an honor bestowed on the franchise's highest-paid player and cornerstone. But while Roberto Hernandez christened the exhibition season with a fastball at 1:08 p.m. Wednesday at Bright House Field, Hamels relaxed. He had passed an important test five hours earlier. There was no pomp and circumstance for Hamels' first bullpen session Wednesday morning. The team and its pitcher brimmed with optimism.
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.