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Spring Training

SPORTS
April 6, 2016
CINCINNATI - They began trickling into the business district more than three hours before the parade. They were walking across intersections, standing in lines, sitting in cubicles inside offices: jerseys, T-shirts, caps, everybody dressed in all-Reds everything. Turns out Opening Day is a bit of a thing here in the Queen City, and as Joey Votto stepped into the box in the bottom of the eighth inning with the bases loaded, the home crowd finally had somewhere to channel all of that energy.
SPORTS
April 5, 2016 | By Bob Brookover, Columnist
Paul Owens had just finished his last news conference before the all-star break, but a 20-year-old reporter had one more question for the Phillies manager: "Who is going to be your starting pitcher in the All-Star Game?" Pope laughed at the stranger and kindly said, "I can't tell you that, young fellow. I wish I could, but I can't. " It was a pretty good question from a mostly clueless kid who still had no idea what he was going to do with the rest of his life. I was the kid. The year was 1984.
SPORTS
April 1, 2016 | By Matt Breen, STAFF WRITER
CLEARWATER, Fla. - A fresh, clean suit hung inside each locker stall Wednesday morning. Spring training's final day had arrived. The Phillies broke their six-week camp with an 8-4 win over the Houston Astros. They packed their belongings in red duffel bags, departed Bright House Field on a bus, and boarded a chartered flight to Philadelphia with a bit of optimism. The Phillies believe they will win more games than they did last season. They may be a bit confident, but it is not a stretch to expect this season's team to be more competitive than the group that lost 99 games a season ago. The starting rotation is deeper, prospects could infuse energy, and manager Pete Mackanin will bring his wisdom and wit for an entire season after taking over last June.
SPORTS
March 29, 2016 | By Bob Brookover, Inquirer Columnist
The news from Clearwater late last week jarred my memory. In five short months, without seeing him manage a single game that counted, Matt Klentak decided he wanted to see more of Pete Mackanin. Klentak, the Phillies' 35-year-old general manager, sat next to Mackanin, the 64-year-old Chicago native who had waited a lifetime for the opportunity to become a big-league manager without an interim label, as the team revealed its biggest news of spring training. The Phillies tore up the contract that did not guarantee Mackanin anything beyond this season and gave him one that takes him through next season with a club option for 2018.
SPORTS
March 26, 2016 | By Matt Breen, STAFF WRITER
CLEARWATER, Fla. - Phillies manager Pete Mackanin is hitting his players in their wallets if they fail to exercise fundamentals or demonstrate hustle. The manager began issuing fines this spring - to the tune of just 50 cents - for players mishaps during spring training. "It allows me to be a real [jerk] about things like that," Mackanin said. "What are you going to complain about 50 cents?" Mackanin reads off the fines each morning during the team's daily meeting. The entire team is fined each time a player breaks one of Mackanin's rules.
SPORTS
March 20, 2016 | By Matt Gelb, STAFF WRITER
CLEARWATER, Fla. - A year ago Sunday, Maikel Franco stuffed a red duffel bag with his baseball belongings. He walked to the Carpenter Complex as a minor-league player, the result of overswinging to impress Phillies officials in spring training. His time, they told him, would come. Franco became Sal Rende's pupil once again. The hitting coach at triple-A Lehigh Valley met with Franco and outlined his goals. Better pitch selection. More patience. Knowing the situation , a word Franco constantly repeats from his established corner of the clubhouse at Bright House Field.
SPORTS
March 19, 2016 | By Matt Gelb, Staff Writer
CLEARWATER, Fla. - Vince Velasquez was in trouble. As his pitch count mounted Thursday in the fifth inning of a 6-1 Phillies loss, his fourth Grapefruit League start neared its conclusion. A single followed by double off the wall put Tampa Bay runners on second and third. Catcher Gabriel Lino trotted to the mound. "Let's just get after it," Velasquez told Lino. "No messing around. Let's just get after it. " The 23-year-old righthander used his secondary pitches to reach two-strike counts.
SPORTS
March 19, 2016 | By Matt Gelb, Staff Writer
CLEARWATER, Fla. - This spring, Ryan Howard said, is about fun. "Smiling again," he said Thursday, soon after he doubled and homered against a lefthanded pitcher. Fun, because there is no such thing as a platoon in the Grapefruit League. When the season starts April 4, Howard is likely to split time at first base with Darin Ruf. A few at-bats in the spring will not change that, but Howard is unequivocal in his belief that he can still hit lefties. He is happy to have the chance, for now. This spring, he is 3 for 6 with two doubles, a home run and one strikeout against lefthanded pitching.
SPORTS
March 17, 2016 | By Matt Gelb, Staff Writer
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. - He was three more conquered batters closer to a goal that a 31-year-old survivor of shoulder surgery no longer considers paramount. Yes, Andrew Bailey said, everyone wants to be the closer. But surgery, which rendered the former rookie of the year and all-star reliever an afterthought, forces one to reassess his priorities. "I felt good," Bailey said Tuesday after striking out the side for his fourth scoreless outing of the spring. And, in the quest to find the next Phillies closer, that is an important step.
SPORTS
March 15, 2016 | By Matt Breen, Staff Writer
TAMPA, Fla. - Pete Mackanin glanced Saturday at the numbers and reports on the three pitchers competing to be the Phillies' fifth starter. He met Sunday morning with his coaches to discuss it. Midway through spring training, the manager is encouraged. "We tried to figure it out," Mackanin said. "Let me put it this way: It's a problem, but it's the kind of problem we were hoping to have. So it's a great problem and we're just going to continue to see them pitch and hope that the best man wins.
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