2014 Spring Training, Day 10

Same start as on previous days – meeting at the mound, stretching routines, exercises, then running drills.  Today’s drill had the runners take a turn at first.  When all were in line again, they went from first to third.  You could see the coach watching the runner approach second then looking down to watch the foot placement as each player touched the base.  Kelly Dugan was MIA today.

During long toss, I noticed that Clete Thomas was about 60 feet deeper than the other pairs.  His partner couldn’t reach him.  I guess he was trying to showcase his arm.  It was a strong arm.

Today’s PFPs were infield pop ups and shallow fly balls.  The pitchers simulated a pitching motion and the coaches used a machine to launch balls.  The first team (on Ashburn) had Rollins and Galvis platoon at short, and Asche and Frandsen platoon at third.  Utley played second, and Howard first.  The second team (on Schmidt) had Blanco and Cedeno platoon at short, and Franco and Brignac platoon at third.  Hernandez played second and Ruf played first.  Players called others off to avoid collisions.  (Last year, during this drill, I heard Utley yell, “I got it, I got, it, I f*ckin’ got it“ on a foul ball down the right field line.  No repeat of that this year.)

Let me make this observation about Darin Ruf.  I don’t think he has even a slim chance of making the 25-man roster once the team cuts down to 5 bench players.  They use him predominantly at first during PFPs and infield drills.  I don’t think they are doing that to better prepare him for a platoon at first.  If he were going to make the team as the 5th outfielder, I tihnk they would be more concerned with improving his outfield defense.  So I would expect him to practice more with the outfielders.  I don’t think he’s been with the outfielders once since the full squad reported.  I’ve seen Hollins cover first during drills for Howard, but haven’t seen Mayberry or Frandsen at first yet.  I think this is an indication of the organization’s indifference toward Ruf.  By the way, he is a very good first baseman.

Live BP followed.  It was less crowded, so I checked each field before deciding where to watch.  The first 4 pitchers were Bastardo, Manship, O’Sullivan, and Hernandez.  I chose to watch Hernandez and Ruiz with Revere, Rollins, and Abreu.  Hernandez displayed inconsistent control.  He would throw three or four good pitches, then a couple wild ones, then a knee buckler.

The next group included Aumont, Horst, Munson, and Stutes.  I chose to watch Aumont and Joseph with Brown, Byrd, Gwynn, and Franco.  Aumont threw a pretty straight fastball.  It was fast and the batters had trouble getting around on it.  He displayed some wildness with it.  He hit the glove more consistently with his off speed stuff.   And mixed it up enough that nobody could touch it.

As the BP with Aumont was winding down, I saw Ken Giles walk through to Ashburn.  I followed him over.  He pitched to Nieves against Gillies, Castro, Blanco, and Marson.  He had two pitches working – his fastball and slider(?).  He looked real good.  Andersen was behind Giles, and looked like he was enjoying what he was seeing.  In fact, Sandberg and Wade were there for the show, too.  BP against the coaches was next, I’m sure these batters were glad to see Giles leave the mound.

A friend told me that Munson had a good session throwing against a group that included Utley and Asche.  On a couple pitches, he induced a swing and miss with a good fastball and a good slider.

During “soft” BP against the Larry Bowa, we noticed that the ramp he was throwing from was closer than on previous days.  He was releasing the ball halfway between the rubber and the plate.  That’s about 30 feet.  We’ve never seen BP thrown from that close.  We surmised that either his arm was sore or he wanted to get the ball to the plate with a little more on it.  In either case, it was back to about 40 feet when Rende took over.

They finished up with infield drills. Hernandez played second with the second team.  Ruf played first.  They fielded routine ground balls.  Later while the shortstops and second basemen were practicing the double play turn,  a coach hitting line drives on one bounce from the outfield to Franco and Brignac at third.  The coaches do this to simulate a throw from the outfield.  Later they did the same for Ruf at first.  Later, Franco and Brignac were positioned in the cut out and fielded sharply hit balls to their left and from a distance of about 50-60 feet.  These balls were hit very hard and varied in distance from 1 to 5 feet to their left or right.  It was the most intense fielding drill I’ve seen yet.  Franco did well.  I think the coach was Doug Mansolino.  At one point, I heard him say, “Okay catch 5 in a row and you’re done”.  Five swings later, after Maikel stoned him, Mansolino said “Just kidding, let’s keep going”.   Or words to that effect.

15 thoughts on “2014 Spring Training, Day 10

  1. Jim, thanks so much for your detailed reports, especially you breaking down the drills. I’m a youth baseball coach, and some of these “new” drills may come in handy for me this year.

  2. Well, there’s an infield drill coming that was run toward the end of camp the past two years. I don’t know if they’ll run it in Sandberg’s camp. I’ve named it the Fire Drill. It sets up with 4 sets of coaches and catchers. They keep balls moving at an alarming rate. Instead of tossing the balls back in to the catchers, throws are also going to second and first base. I’ll have to see it again to be sure, but it goes something like this.

    The coaches are in a half circle around home plate. The coach on the first base line hits ground balls to the third baseman who throws to first. The coach on the third base line hits to another first baseman who throws home. The coach to the left of home plate hits to the second baseman who throws to the shortstop for a force at second. The coach to the right of home plate hits to another shortstop who throws home. All the infielders take part in the drill. The shortstops are rotating between two places. The third baseman are rotating. The second basemen are rotating. The first basemen taking ground balls rotate if there are more than one. Only the first baseman taking throws stays in place, and sometimes this will be a coach. Then they’ll change it up where third base throws home, second base throws to first, and shortstop throws to second. All at a high rate of speed.

    Then they’ll change it around again. It’s amazing to watch. I hope they do it again this year.

    1. We do this with our legion and HS team I coach . . . It’s nothing difficult, everyone knows where they are going and there’s no worry of anyone getting in another’s why. It’s a good way to get a ton if ground balls in a short period of time. If you want to see a crazy drill you should see the Mississippi State Drill . . It’s 7 balls going at once w your 8 fielders . . It’s insane.

      As far as Bowa being closer to home plate, it’s not that he needs to throw harder. It’s perceived velocity here.

  3. If Ruf doesn’t get 250 PA between 1B and PH I’m going to be really disappointed. I was actually just telling my wife last night that while the phillies are my favorite sports team they also have one of the most incompetent group of owners and management (Gm) in the sport, and in comparison to the other major Philly sports, is a complete joke.

    1. Just thought something funny… Imagine a joke that starts off like this Hinkie, Roseman, Holmgrem and Amaro are sitting in a bar and… Any care to guess who the punch line to that joke is?

    2. I have read in several different articles that Sandberg sees Ruf getting 300 at bats this season. I am reading into all his time at first that there maybe a straight platoon with Ruf/Howard which I strongly endorse.

      1. I like Ruf. But, who would be the other 4 bench players if Ruf is kept for a straight platoon at first? You need a catcher, a couple middle infielders, a guy who can play 3 outfield positions, a left-handed bat (preferably with power) …

  4. How has Abreu looked? He’s one of the most UNDERRATED player over the past 25 years. I mean look at the numbers he’s put up (and most if these numbers were in a Phillies uniform):

    Seasons of .300 plus BA: 6x .310 plus: 3x
    Seasons of .400 plus OBP: 8x .380 plus: 12x
    Seasons Slugging over .475: 8x .500 plus: 6x
    Seasons with over 20 SB: 14x 30 plus: 6x
    Seasons with over 20HR: 25HR: 30HR:
    Seasons with over 100RBI: 8x
    Seasons with over 100 Runs: 8x
    Seasons with over 100 Walks: 8x
    Seasons with OPS over .875: 10x .900 plus: 7x
    Seasons with over 40 doubles: 7x
    Seasons with over 150 games: 13x

    Has a few AS games, top 25 MVP finishes, Golden Glove and Silver Slugger.

    Slash Lines from 1998-2009

    1998 – .312/.409/.497/.906
    1999 – .335/.446/.549/.995
    2000 – .316/.416/.554/.970
    2001 – .289/.393/.543/.936
    2002 – .308/.413/.521/.934
    2003 – .300/.409/.468/.877
    2004 – .301/.428/.544/.971
    2005 – .286/.405/.474/.879
    2006 – .297/.424/.462/.886
    2007 – .283/.369/.445/.814
    2008 – .296/.371/.471/.843
    2009 – .293/.390/.435/.825

    I get that this was the ‘Steroid Era” but still for the numbers he put up he sure isn’t talked about much.

    1. 20HR – 9x 25HR – 3x 30HR – 2x

      I wish he would have embraced the lead off spot (he didn’t like hitting 1st). He would have been a SICK lead off hitter who hits, gets on base, takes his walks, steals and has some pop.

    2. He’s looked good hitting against the coaches in BP. He has a nice swing. He looks like a pure hitter. He’s in good spirits, joking around the batting cages. Maybe he can make the adjustment to being a pinch hitter.

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