The first full squad practice finally arrived and attendance picked up. Now, I can stop focusing on that each day. It’s still not as high as in 2014, but it’s better than it has been. New signage is nearing completion. Spectrum Field sign finally on the stadium. New additions added to the scoreboards on Roberts and Ashburn.
I ran a little late this morning so of course the players were on Schmidt Field early as I passed the Complex on route 19. Fortunately their stretching and calisthenics take about 15 minutes before baseball drill begin. They started with PFPs and reverted back to splitting the pitchers into two groups on just two fields. Pitchers stand around a lot waiting for their turn on the mound. However, that was the only wasted time this morning. The coaches kept the players working until after 12:30. Seemed like a long day. I loved it.
The PFPs were similar to the drills they ran earlier in the week except that now they had fielders at the bases instead of pitchers and coaches. To some extent, the pitchers were window dressing while the infielders got up to speed on the defensive drills.
Eventually, the pitchers (Burnett, Neshek, Buchholz, and Hellickson) went to the Seven Mounds to get their mound work in while infielders and outfielders got in their fielding work. Knapp took some balls at first base. It soon became evident that the pitchers were doing more than getting their work in, they were warming up to pitch live batting practice. Woohoo!
I was at Roberts Field when live BP started and decided to watch Goeddel, Williams, Knapp, and Cozens bat off Sean Burnett. Drew Anderson followed Burnett. Normally, during live BP, the batters just provide a token strike zone for the pitcher. Apparently, these guys didn’t get the memo. Or maybe the live BP philosophy has changed. In any event, Cozens then Williams took some aggressive swings followed by Knapp. Goeddel then fell into step with them.
This is not to imply that the foursome pummeled Burnett’s offerings, but some solid contact was established. Of particular note, Cozens lashed a tough drive down the first base line (that would likely have been a hard play for a first baseman), ripped a line drive to left (that would have been a certain base hit, maybe a double), and drove a ball down the right field line (that had double written all over it, I yelled out “triple”). These were notable because they came off a major league caliber left-handed pitcher. Even more interesting was that he didn’t offer at a curve ball off the plate, the kind that Howard used to miss late in his career.
Anderson looked good. He smiled smugly when he got his second pitch past Cozens. I would have loved to hear the banter between them.
Alberto Tirado was the third and final pitcher to throw “live” on Roberts. He faced Featherston, Alfaro, Quinn, and Kingery.
Regular BP followed and I slipped over to Carlton Field to watch Herrera, Blanco, Hernandez, and one pf the FA catchers. Hernandez ended his session with two balls over the LF fence. After the first one, I muttered “hey, watch my car”. After the second one, which was closer to the fair pole, I got a little louder (I’m not kidding, watch my car!”. I was mostly trying to get my friends to laugh, but the players heard and Blanco, Herrera, and Hernandez turned and laughed.
Back on Roberts, the guys were all driving balls over the fence. Cozens hits high towering balls. One hit the new scoreboard in left. Another caromed off the top panel of the batter’s eye in dead center field. Williams showed decent power from left center to right under the watchful gazes of Matt Stairs and Matt Klentak. Knapp countered with blasts from both sides of the plate. And even Goeddel bounced one off the scoreboard.
Alfaro followed in group two with several line drives that cleared the fence from left to left center. Even Kingery who I have described as a slap hitter in recent conversations showed power to his pull field.
I noticed that some of the minor league pitchers who are in camp but hadn’t been invited to major league spring training were suited up today – Miguel Nunez, Mark Leiter, and Tyler Viza.
That’s 2008 world series closer Brad Lidge behind the screen. He signed a couple dozen autographs afterwards. I waited ’til he was done and shook his hand (I don’t do the autograph thing) and thanked him for 2008. He was appreciative. Notice that Viza is pitching live BP without a protective screen in front.
Earlier Klentak passed close enough in a light blue polo shirt. I asked him if he was aware that our primary color was red. He stopped long enough to explain that he had the option of only red for 5 years and liked that the Phillies had so many other options. I’ve successfully laid the groundwork to ask him who they are targeting in the 2017 Rule 4 Draft, dontcha think?
Just before that, I had pointed out to our group that Klentak never seems to wear red. I stopped when I felt a presence to my left on the other side of the fence. Don’t want to get caught talking about the GM if one of his underlings is too close, no matter how silly the comment. Turned out to be Matt Gelb.
I said “hi” and told him I read him to stay up on the Phillies and thanked him for his article a few years ago on the luxury tax limit. His article provided me with the background and confidence to begin commenting on Phuture Phillies. When I introduced myself he recognized my name and said he reads Phuture Phillies. Pretty cool, huh.
I commented on the unavailability of the CBA and Matt said the teams don’t even have the final copy yet. There is one change that he was able to verify. The Rangers added Prince Fielder and Jake Diekman to the 60-day DL on Tuesday. Matt verified that one new change was that teams could add players to the “60” on the first day of spring workouts. Previously, players couldn’t be added until the end of spring training.
Oh, Darin Ruf’s contract was sold to a team in the Korean Baseball League. I had reported a while back that they had expressed a 7-figure interest in Ruf back before he was traded to the Dodgers. Today the Dodgers tendered the contractual rights and Ruf will receive $1.1M in salary, a considerable increase over the major league minimum or the more likely AAA salary he would have received in 2017.