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SPORTS
March 9, 2015 | By Jake Kaplan, Inquirer Staff Writer
CLEARWATER, Fla. - Jonathan Papelbon took the mound Saturday and consistently registered 93 m.p.h. with his fastball. Coincidentally, his 2015 Grapefruit League debut came against a club that might need a closer. "Huh, interesting," the Phillies closer said. That was Papelbon's catchphrase of the afternoon. The notion of the Toronto Blue Jays as a potential suitor in a future trade did not get his juices flowing, Papelbon said. His average fastball velocity last season was 91.2, according to FanGraphs' PITCHf/x data.
SPORTS
March 9, 2015 | By Bob Brookover, Inquirer Columnist
CLEARWATER, Fla. - The other spring training opens for the Phillies Sunday morning at the Carpenter Complex, and, given the state of the team, it is the more important one. For the first time in this century, the Phillies arrived on the Gulf Coast of Florida as neither contenders nor pretenders. The proclamation from team president Pat Gillick in the offseason was that the Phillies are officially rebuilding. Depressing as that is for the fans, it has an entirely different meaning for the long list of minor-leaguers reporting for Sunday's first full-squad workout.
SPORTS
March 9, 2015
CLEARWATER, Fla. - Jesse Biddle tried to establish his fastball in the seventh inning of Saturday's Grapefruit League game. The problem was he left it up in the zone. Perhaps, the lefthander from Germantown Friends suggested, he was a bit too amped up for his first outing of the spring. The Phillies' former first-round pick is preparing for a pivotal season after a struggle-filled 2014. "I've been doing a really good job in bullpens and live [batting practice] and throwing really well, so I'm not going to let this outweigh everything else I've been doing," he said after allowing two runs on three hits in his inning of work against the Toronto Blue Jays.
SPORTS
March 9, 2015 | By Jake Kaplan, Inquirer Staff Writer
CLEARWATER, Fla. - Tommy Joseph was on a fast track to the major leagues, or, as the 23-year-old Arizonan puts it, he was "scootin'. " The San Francisco Giants twice invited him to big-league spring training before he was even of legal drinking age. He was only 21 when he took his first triple-A at-bat with the Phillies organization. Thirty-one months after becoming the centerpiece of the Phillies' return in the Hunter Pence trade, Joseph is just trying to stay on the field. If he manages to remain healthy, the rest will take care of itself, he contends.
SPORTS
March 8, 2015 | By Jake Kaplan, Inquirer Staff Writer
CLEARWATER, Fla. - Carlos Ruiz was behind the plate Friday afternoon for the first time this spring. The 36-year-old caught five innings and went 0 for 2 with a strikeout. Manager Ryne Sandberg said Ruiz will catch once every four or five days during spring training. He has played one game so far as a designated hitter. Sandberg said it is a priority to get Ruiz at-bats. "For him to get work and throw and block and everything," Sandberg said after Friday's 4-1 loss to the Yankees.
SPORTS
March 7, 2015 | By Jake Kaplan, Inquirer Staff Writer
KISSIMMEE, Fla. - Cliff Lee's first start since July took all of 20 minutes. The plan was for him to handle two innings, and he did so using only 22 pitches. A mishmash of scouts sat in the green seats behind home plate at Osceola County Stadium and watched one of the Phillies' potential trade chips throw without issue. Suitors for Lee will wait for a much larger sample size before moving on a deal, but Thursday signified a solid first outing of the spring for the 36-year-old lefthander.
SPORTS
March 7, 2015 | By Bob Brookover, Inquirer Columnist
TAMPA, Fla. - Larry Bowa tapped his knuckles on the wooden bench in the visitors' dugout at Steinbrenner Field Wednesday morning before answering the question. "For some reason," he said, "I've never had arm problems. I always threw. I remember throwing in Little League with my dad who was an excellent baseball player. The one thing we did every day was throw the baseball. " Bowa, at 69, is still throwing it. In fact, you will not find an older man in baseball still throwing batting practice.
SPORTS
March 7, 2015 | By Matt Breen, Inquirer Staff Writer
Justin De Fratus, baseball player. That was his identity. De Fratus was pretty good, too. The Phillies drafted him in 2007, and he excelled in the minor leagues. The righthander was considered one of the team's top pitching prospects. Then a right elbow strain in March 2012 cost him the first five months of a season in which he hoped to transition from prospect to major leaguer. The injury, he said, led to an identity crisis: Who are you and what are you supposed to be in this world?
SPORTS
March 6, 2015 | By Jake Kaplan, Inquirer Staff Writer
CLEARWATER, Fla. - The word "normal" has been uttered countless times early this spring training from Cliff Lee. That's nothing but a positive for the Phillies in the case of their 36-year-old lefthander, coming off last year's season-ending elbow strain. Thursday afternoon he will make his first start since July 31 when he pitches against the Houston Astros in Kissimmee, Fla. Lee, one of the Phillies' potential trade chips, is expected to pitch the first two innings. Righthander Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez is scheduled to follow with his first outing of the spring.
SPORTS
March 6, 2015 | By Matt Breen, Inquirer Staff Writer
TAMPA, Fla. - Odubel Herrera did not need his translator Wednesday when asked if he thought his play this spring would make the Phillies' decisions a bit tougher when the team trims the roster in a month. "For sure," Herrera said after a 3-1 win over the New York Yankees at Steinbrenner Field. The 23-year-old reached base four times, stole three bases and scored two runs. Herrera batted leadoff and played a solid center field, a position he began playing this winter in Venezuela.
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