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Spring Training

SPORTS
March 10, 2014 | By Ed Rendell, For the Daily News
ALL OVER the nation, people are yearning for spring and the upcoming baseball season. In most major league cities, people are filled with high hopes that their team can win it all. Even in cities where their team had a miserable record in 2013, they are thinking about, as Harry Kalas sang to us, that ant and that rubber tree plant. They are defiant in the face of the experts' dire predictions for their teams, telling themselves they can be 2014's version of the 2013 Red Sox. But in the one big-league city, there are no high hopes.
SPORTS
March 10, 2014 | By Bob Ford, Inquirer Columnist
CLEARWATER, Fla. - Spring training is to the regular baseball season what Johnny & the Doo-Dads are to the Rolling Stones. It is a warm-up act, a space filler, a revving of engines before the green flag, a teaser for what is to come. Nothing is won in spring training and nothing is lost, at least from a team standpoint. Players can win or lose spots, but only on the margins of the roster. The regulars get their work in, pack up after a handful of innings, and get out of there before the traffic.
SPORTS
March 6, 2014 | BY RYAN LAWRENCE, Daily News Staff Writer rlawrence@phillynews.com
CLEARWATER, Fla. - Marlon Byrd hit a booming, opposite-field home run off Toronto ace R.A. Dickey to break a tie in the third inning of the Phillies' eventual 5-3 loss to the Blue Jays. Byrd went 2-for-3. The 17 other Phillies batters who stepped to the plate last night had a combined four hits. "A lot of zeroes up there on the offensive side," manager Ryne Sandberg said. "We haven't had too much offense later in the games. It's something we have to work on. With more at-bats, guys usually start swinging the bats better.
SPORTS
March 6, 2014 | BY RYAN LAWRENCE, Daily News Staff Writer rlawrence@phillynews.com
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.
SPORTS
March 5, 2014 | By Bob Ford, Inquirer Columnist
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.
SPORTS
March 5, 2014 | By Matt Gelb, Inquirer Staff Writer
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.
SPORTS
March 4, 2014 | BY RYAN LAWRENCE, Daily News Staff Writer rlawrence@phillynews.com
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.
SPORTS
February 28, 2014 | By Matt Gelb, Inquirer Staff Writer
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.
SPORTS
February 28, 2014 | BY RYAN LAWRENCE, Daily News Staff Writer rlawrence@phillynews.com
CLEARWATER, Fla. - Cole Hamels would like to take this opportunity to clear something up. He is not injured. He never had an injury in Clearwater this month. But when the Phillies opened the Grapefruit League season yesterday afternoon against the Toronto Blue Jays, Hamels wasn't scheduled to pitch. He's not on the docket for the rest of the week, either. Hamels is, however, continuing to take the steps necessary to pitch in games in 2014. Yesterday, he took a step as important as any other while morning rush-hour traffic was still backed up on Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard and the dew was still present on the sun-bleached grass at the Carpenter Complex.
SPORTS
February 28, 2014 | By Matt Gelb, Inquirer Staff Writer
CLEARWATER, Fla. - Mike Schmidt, the Hall of Fame third baseman, will broadcast 13 Phillies games for Comcast SportsNet this season, as the network continues to overhaul its announcing talent. Schmidt, 64, will work every Sunday home game. He will team with Tom McCarthy and either Jamie Moyer or Matt Stairs in a three-man booth. Comcast replaced Chris Wheeler and Gary Matthews in January when it agreed to a TV rights deal with the Phillies worth more than $2.5 billion. "Michael Jack Schmidt is one of the iconic names in Philadelphia Phillies history," Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia president Brian Monihan said in a statement.
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