Day two started the same as day one – meeting at the mound, pitchers and catchers stretching in one outfield, position players stretching in another. Once loose, the position players split up between Schmidt and Ashburn infields and began base running drills. When completed, they completed long toss to warm up their arms. The groups then came together on the two infields to practice pickoffs and rundowns.
During these drills Andrew Knapp, Corey Bass, Logan Moore, and Joel Fisher came out of the minor league clubhouse and went back to the 7 Mounds. A few of the pitchers broke away from the fielding drills and began warming up to pitch live batting practice. When live BP started, the pitcher/catcher pairs stayed together when they proceeded to the fields to pitch. Eleven of the twelve pitchers who threw today were – Jake Diekman, Sean O’Sullivan, Cliff Lee, Kevin Slowey, Justin DeFratus, Phillippe Aumont, Kevin Giles, Andy Oliver, Nefi Ogando, Hector Neris, and Elvis Araujo.
I managed to watch at least a little of each of these guys. I started with Cliff Lee because, next to Cole Hamels, he is going to have the most impact on the organization if he pitches well enough to be a trade piece. Plus, the other pitchers in the first round were Diekman, O’Sullivan and Slowey. Lee looked comfortable throwing hard. Having seen Lee in previous springs, I have little doubt that he’ll be ready on opening day. I only saw a couple pitches by O’Sullivan and Slowey so I don’t have anything to report on them. Diekman looked like his old nasty self with that side arm delivery.
Three of the four guys in the second round were DeFratus, Aumont, and Giles. I only watched a little of DeFratus, I was drawn to Giles like a moth to a flame. He was throwing well. Then there was Aumont. Several weeks ago, I surmised that he would be the first player DFA-ed when it was time to make room on the 40-man roster. Today, I saw why they Phillies love his arm. His stuff was pretty good. Let’s hope he can finally put it together this year.
The final group included Oliver, Ogando, Neris, and Araujo. Neris plunked Carlos Ruiz on the left shoulder on his first pitch, so I left while they tended to Chooch. I returned to see his final few pitches. He had regained his control by then. Ogando threw particularly hard. But he seemed to be throwing all fastballs. Fast ones, but with little deception. Eventually, some of the batters were able to catch up to one here and there. He did fool Domonic Brown on one pitch where Dom’s bat helicoptered out of the cage into the netting over the fence down the first base line. Oliver didn’t look to be throwing anything special, but he did manage to get a couple past Howard, but that has been happening too frequently this week. Araujo is a big guy. He throws hard, but has an awkward looking looking windup and release. Like he doesn’t get full extension of his arm during the pitch.
BP off the coaches came next, and everybody was a hitter. The more I see this, the less helpful I think it is. I don’t see how hitting a baseball from a 60-year old coach throwing from at half-speed from 45 feet helps with timimg or anything.
Fielding drills were next. Today, Ryan Howard played first and Russ Canzler took ground balls at third. Halfway through, they switched places. The drills are so fast at second that switching the first baseman out every play would be impractical. The ground balls over at third are just ground balls, the base has no hidden meaning. What is interesting is that Darin Ruf is with the middle infielders instead of with the first baseman or the outfielders. Aschee is also spending his time in the infield group. Also, Chase Utley did not take part in this drill. It was reported that his has a sore ankle. The result of stepping on a baseball while working out over the winter.
Afterwards they continued their emphasis on offense when the wheeled out the pitching machines to run through additional batting practice. I was drawn to Odubel Herrera. If I can borrow a phrase from Richie Ashburn, he looks hitterish. He has a nice easy swing and goes with the pitch. He goes to left field a lot, but has shown pull and gap ability.
One last observation, I saw Chad Billingsley taking part in the drills. He looks a little hefty.