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.
April 14, 2014 |
READING - Kenny Giles elicits excitement for how hard he throws the ball from fans and teammates alike. "We call him 100 miles Giles," Reading catcher Tommy Joseph said. Maybe they should call him 101 miles Giles, which is the number the Reading righthander touched on the radar gun during last Sunday's 4-3 win over visiting Portland. As if he needs any more motivation, Giles admits that he receives an extra boost when the crowd reacts to the abnormally high radar-gun readings.
March 6, 2014 |
CLEARWATER, Fla. - The infielder was a month removed from Achilles' surgery, going about his daily rehab work and trying to keep a positive outlook. He relies on legs. His future is largely dependent on his legs' ability to recover and become strong again. Ryan Howard walked over to the kid last fall at the Phillies' state-of-the-art indoor training facility in Clearwater with some friendly words of advice. "Baby steps," Howard said. "You've got to keep a positive mindset.
April 9, 2014 |
THE PHILLIES and their equipment - balls, bats, helmets, etc. - arrived in Chicago in the early hours of Thursday morning, still more than 24 hours before they would play their first game at Wrigley Field. But as Chase Utley patrolled the front of the cramped visiting clubhouse in the 100-year-old ballpark on Friday, with a ski cap keeping his head warm in the early-morning cold, he couldn't find an important piece of equipment. He poked into one bag. And then another. "I can't find my bat," he said of his game bat. Utley eventually found it. Although the bat broke at one point over the weekend, Utley and his swing stayed in tune for the final half of a road trip that saw a couple of the team's key cogs in sync at the plate.
April 11, 2014 |
Nothing in professional sports carries less overall meaning than the outcome of a single regular-season baseball game, or even a short stretch of games. The story of a major-league season is a quilt sewn tediously together bit-by-bit, day-by-day, and even the best teams in the game drop somewhere around 60 stitches before it is over. It is tempting, though, to look through the microscope of one night and think there is something to discover. It's also wrong, but always tempting. All right, that takes care of the qualifiers.
April 13, 2014 |
HELP COULD soon be on the way for the Phillies' beleaguered bullpen. Veteran setup man Mike Adams is targeting a Monday return, contingent upon a successful outing at Triple A Lehigh Valley today. The Phillies' bullpen entered yesterday with a 5.40 ERA, ranked second-worst in the National League. Phillies relievers were averaging only 7.09 strikeouts per nine innings, second-lowest in the NL (Washington and Atlanta rank first and second at 12.71 and 11.86). Adams, 35, was one of baseball's best setup men from 2008-12, prompting the Phillies to sign him to a 2-year, $12 million deal last offseason.