Shortly before 10:00AM this morning, 58 roster and non-roster players as well as 30 coaches, instructors and guest instructors gathered around Ryne Sandberg at the mound on Mike Schmidt Field. After addressing the team, he dispersed them to their stations on the various fields and Spring Training 2015 was on.
The pitchers and catchers gathered in right field on Schmidt Field to do their stretching exercises. The position players did their own stretches in left field on Ashburn Field. While his team mates went through their exercises, Kelly Dugan limped between the fields in his walking boot, stooped over to retrieve his glove, and continued alone into the Bright House Field clubhouse.
When everyone was stretched out, they ran through fielding drills that focused on the bunt. Then, position players divided into two groups and were directed through base running drills on different fields. Long toss came next for the position players while the catchers and some pitchers warmed up on the 7 Mounds for live batting practice.
I watched Miguel Gonzalez pitch to Revere, Paul, and Galvis on Ashburn Field. He looked good. I wish the video I took on my iPhone turned out, but it all converts to sideways when I try to import it. Sorry.
Next, I watched Tommy Joseph bat against Jerome Williams on Roberts Field. He looks a little stockier than I remember, but he is swinging the bat well.
I managed to catch Jesse Biddle’s last two pitches back on Schmidt Field. Afterward, he received some coaching from Larry Anderson behind the mound before departing.
Next, I watched Adam Morgan on Carlton Field. I couldn’t judge his velocity, but he seemed to be throwing well enough. He pitched against a group that included Ryan Howard. I was concentrating on Morgan and didn’t notice what the batters were doing. I overheard a child say that Howard whiffed on four of his swings. More on that later.
Back on Ashburn Field, Odubel Herrera was making consistent contact on every swing. He sprayed the ball all around and hit the ball hard.
When the pitchers had finished their work, the coaches pitched. I watched the group that included Tommy Joseph, Maikel, Franco, and Jeff Francoeur. All three made good contact. Joseph looks like his wrist has completely healed. One of the group lifted a ball over the left center field fence that Jordan Danks was able to reach and bring back. Nicest catch of the day.
About this time we had a short drizzle that broke up the last of batting practice. Just before Charlie Manuel called it on our field, Franco stepped into and took a stance in the left-handed batters’ box. He stepped out before I could get that shot. A few minutes later, he was moving the batting cage into a new position. I thought they had people for that.
The position players broke into 3 groups for defensive drills. I made my way back to Ashburn to see if Cody Asche was with the infielders. He was. Seems like they’ve made their mind up early on who starts at third this season. They ran a new drill. All the infielders took up positions at either side of second base, fielded a ball, flipped to the man covering the bag, who threw to first, then moved to the back of the other line. While this was going on, Ryan Howard fielded ground balls at third.
When the defensive drills were over, they wheeled out a pitching machine and took more batting practice. The machine is probably better than a soft tossing coach. At least it’s a lot faster. My group on Ashburn Field included Franco, Aaron Altherr, Francouer, and Howard. Again Franco looked good. Altherr was inconsistent during his first set, but put it together after that. Francoeur made good contact. On the last pitch of his first set, he launched a ball onto the roof of Bright House Field behind the left field fence. If you’ve ever been down here, you know that was a prodigious shot. If you haven’t, it landed above the sign above the truck behind Howard. That’s pretty far. Howard followed and missed 4 balls in his first set. He continued to make inconsistent contact through his other sets, missing balls on occasion.
Practice ended and we could see pitchers getting their running in on Schmidt Field. Soon after the position players left the fields, you could hear balls being struck from the indoor batting cages inside Bright House. There certainly seems to be an early emphasis on batting, and not just more against soft tossing coaches.
Now, Carlton and Roberts Fields were turned over to the minor leaguers who are in camp. These guys are even tougher to identify. They don’t have names or numbers on their shirts, yet. The minor leaguers aren’t due in until next week, but some have been invited to join the other early reports.
Some of the catchers are pulling double duty. Andrew Knapp is catching in both the major and minor league camps. I’m sure others are too. I saw Logan Moore, Corey Bass, Joel Fisher, and Sean McHugh (I think). Roman Quinn is here. So is Zach Green, Carlos Tocci, Jiordani Tromp, Cameron Perkins, Carlos Alonzo, and Tyler Henson.
After stretches and long toss, the pitchers warmed up to throw a live BP on the two fields. The position payers broke into defensive groups. Green took ground balls at third.
Among the pitchers, I was able to identify Colin Kleven, Austin Wright, Mike Nesseth, Seth Rosin, Jordan Guth among the pitchers who threw today. Mitch Gueller, Ryan O’Sullivan, Hoby Milner, Percy Garner, Mark Leiter were also spotted. There are a lot more pitchers here, they just don’t stand still long enough for me to identify them.
I was focused on Kleven and the batters he faced – Tocci, Perkins, Alonso, and Green. The coaches were insistent that certain catchers catch certain pitchers. Kleven was paired with Moore. This could be an early indication that Kleven will be moved to the bullpen in Reading. Or it means nothing at all.
It’s too early to say who looks good and who doesn’t, but Roman Quinn launched the first pitch he saw after a pitching change to the fence in left center on one bounce off the warning track. He was left-handed. He seems so much stronger from that side.
My video is all sideways, but here are a couple of pictures of your favorite stick figure.
Tocci seems a little taller. His arms and legs look more muscular than last season. However, unless he’s sporting pecs and a 6-pack under that tee shirt, his torso looks as thin as ever. I overheard a coach respond when asked about Tocci, “Well he gained a little, but not as much as we hoped. There’s still room for more”.