July 28, 2014 |
READING - When the Phillies signed Cuban righthander Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez to a three-year, $12 million contract last August, they envisioned him in the starting rotation, potentially as a No. 3 starter. Gonzalez didn't pitch last year after signing, and the first action he had with the Phillies was during spring training. A shoulder injury in the spring was a major setback, and after three rocky minor-league starts, he was moved to the bullpen. Since being promoted from high-A Clearwater to double-A Reading earlier this month, Gonzalez has proven to be healthy and highly effective as a reliever.
July 26, 2014 |
The 90th strike fired by Cole Hamels was an 85-m.p.h. change-up that darted to a precise spot, low and away from Michael Morse. The San Francisco outfielder flailed at Hamels' signature offering. Hamels, who has the innate skill every fifth day to temporarily suspend the frustration of a $190 million payroll, walked with purpose to the dugout. His start, a 2-1 Phillies win Thursday at Citizens Bank Park, concluded with eight masterful innings. Hamels has expressed his dismay with this underachieving roster but casts himself as a helpless participant.
July 16, 2014 |
MINNEAPOLIS- Benjamin Utley, according to his dad, can do it all. Hit, field, throw, run. The hitting for power will come, surely. "He's an active little guy," the elder Utley said of his 2 ½-year-old son. "He likes to throw everything - not just baseballs. Everything. " As the subject matter changed during a recent conversation, from his own health to his son's baseball activities, Utley couldn't help but break out into a smile. "He's doing everything," Utley said. "Well, it's not like I have him doing drills or anything.
June 16, 2014 |
READING - A former top-five draft pick was playing winter ball in Venezuela when he started to sense he would have difficulty landing a job this spring. So Adam Loewen reverted to an old custom. He began to long toss. More than 5 years had elapsed since Loewen, once a ballyhooed Orioles' pitching prospect, last toed the rubber. Arm injuries had sent the touted 6-6 southpaw into a second career as a hitter. But nearing 30 and after 3 years of stints manning the outfield in Buffalo, Port St. Lucie and New Hampshire, he opted to again gauge the status of his once-prized left arm. "I felt like I left a lot out there, a lot of potential that was untapped, really," he said.
June 4, 2014 |
SOME GUYS like the bull's-eye. Some guys feel every sling and arrow fired once they don it, or once it is draped upon them. In January 2007, Jimmy Rollins spiced up our baseball offseason by proclaiming that the Phillies were "the team to beat" in the National League East. This was after their third consecutive second-place finish in 2006, 12 games behind the Mets, and their fourth runner-up run in the decade. Serious questions had surfaced about the team's mettle and mentality.
June 1, 2014 |
Lefthander Cliff Lee, who has been on the 15-day disabled list since May 20 with a left-elbow strain, has yet to start throwing, but he remains optimistic. "It is slowly getting better . . . there is still a little bit [of discomfort], but I'm progressing," Lee said before the Phillies took on the Mets Friday night at Citizens Bank Park. "Every day I am getting closer to throwing. " Lee is 4-4 with a 3.18 ERA in 10 starts this season. Needing a day off? Counting Friday, Jimmy Rollins had started 21 consecutive games for the Phillies, and he has hit a slump.
May 25, 2014 |
THE COMPOSITION of the Phillies bench took a wild turn in the last week of spring training, when Darin Ruf suffered a severe rib-cage injury, Freddy Galvis contracted a MRSA infection and Kevin Frandsen elected for free agency after being removed from the 40-man roster. It's continued to be an ever-changing piece of the roster, from Jayson Nix coming and going, Reid Brignac arriving, Galvis being activated, sent down and then injured, Hernandez coming and going and Ruf entering the picture this week.
May 18, 2014 |
The Phillies position players have remained relatively healthy, but the offense has been inconsistent through a 17-21 start entering Friday's game at Citizens Bank Park against the Cincinnati Reds. The Phillies entered the weekend with a minus-34 run differential, the third worst in Major League Baseball. They were 29th in runners left in scoring position per game (4.11) and 26th in runners left on base per game (7.63). Before Friday's game, manager Ryne Sandberg was candid when asked if he was surprised at the offense's inconsistency, especially without many health issues in the first 38 games.
May 16, 2014 |
The pain in Chase Utley's knees was most visible when bat met ball in 2011. The sound was not the same, either. Just 12.7 percent of Utley's batted balls were line drives, according to Baseball Info Solutions data. His power stroke disappeared. That is what makes Utley's .571 slugging percentage over the first six weeks of 2014 so remarkable. He doubled two more times Wednesday in a 3-0 loss to the Los Angeles Angels. He leads the National League with 17 doubles and three triples.
May 15, 2014 |
The Phillies infielders converged at the mound in the seventh inning of a 4-3 loss Tuesday night, and Cody Asche was the loneliest man in Citizens Bank Park. Mike Trout, the superstar an entire South Jersey town came to ogle, had just chopped a grounder at Asche. The 23-year-old third baseman backpedaled and lunged for the ball, which trickled past him. Now, Asche stood on the slope of the mound, a few steps from his teammates. Phillies pitching coach Bob McClure motivated Cliff Lee, who was pushed to the brink because of Asche's sloppy fielding.