Players arrived Sunday for Instucts and Strength and Conditioning. Monday, they began. And, so did we. My friend Steve Potter and I arrived around 9:00 AM and waited until the players came out to take part in exercises and baseball drills at 11:00 AM. They were divided up into groups, and progressed from one activity to another in those groups. Players were on the field for about 2.5 hours. Here’s who and what what we saw these first few days.
We were told that there would be about 130 players here during the three weeks of Instructs. This number includes rehabbing players of whom there are many in attendance. It also includes the 40-man roster guys who haven’t been recalled, (yet?). There are also a few, a very few DSL players here. Not surprising since a similar Instructional Camp is being held at the Phillies Dominican Academy. A handful of stateside players were sent there. I don’t know whom, though.
First, here’s the schedule for Instructs.
- Mon, 9/9: CAMP
- Tue, 9/10: CAMP
- Wed, 9/11: CAMP
- Thu, 9/12: CAMP
- Fri, 9/13: CAMP
- Sat, 9/14: CAMP
- Sun, 9/15: OFF
- Mon, 9/16: @TOR – 1:00 PM
- Tue, 9/17: v.TOR – 1:00 PM
- Wed, 9/18: CAMP
- Thu, 9/19: @DET – 1:00 PM
- Fri, 9/20: v.TOR – 1:00 PM
- Sat, 9/21: CAMP
- Sun, 9/22: OFF
- Mon, 9/23: v.TOR – 1:00 PM
- Tue, 9/24: @TOR – 1:00 PM
- Wed, 9/25: CAMP
- Thu, 9/26: v.DET – 1:00 PM
- Fri, 9/27: @TOR – 1:00 PM
- Sat, 9/28: CAMP
- Sun, 9/29: OFF
Second, here’s who we’ve seen so far (92 on Monday, 8 more on Tuesday, …). The five guys in bold text are guys that made me go hmm. They are either on the 40 or from Lehigh Valley. It’s interesting that they are here. Hmm. Keeping the arms warm just in case?
|De La Cruz||Carlos||OF||LAK|
|De Los Santos||Enyel||RHP||LHV||Y|
Plus, Tyler Viza. That’s 101.
There are a lot more than the 18 players above on the ILs. They are tougher to identify. They wear red t-shirts, but have no names and don’t stay outside long. They are on a different program. But, I’m certain they are included in the 130. When rosters were handed out in the past, rehab players were included.
There are also a lot of coaches and support personnel here. I think most of the coaching staffs from Clearwater, Lakewood, Williamsport, and the two GCL teams are here. Plus the strength and conditioning staff from those teams. Plus the guys who oversee and travel during the year like Chris Truby. Plus Larry Bowa. Plus the Driveline guys. I would venture to guess that the ratio of players to staff is 4 or 5 to one. And then, there are people like Minetti, Bonifay, Parks …
And, finally, here’s what they’ve done so far.
They arrive early and have behind closed door sessions before taking the field in their various, staggered groups. The players perform the normal exercise and stretching routines that we’ve become used to seeing. As well as long toss to stretch out their arms. Then they break out to assigned fields.
Ashburn – PFPs
The PFPs are the same PFPs we’ve seen during spring training without fielders. The pitcher simulates a pitch, the coach hits a ball, the pitcher fields it, and mimics a throw to the required base. They are in groups of 6-8. After they’ve simulated several throws to each base, they move out to the mid fielder positions to field harder hit balls. When donne, they sre replaced with another group.
Obviously, there are more than a few pitchers here. Another group will be over on the mounds between Ashburn and Schmidt “throwing” a towel. They go through their throwing motion under the scrutiny of one of the coaches. The towel gives a little resistance while they work on form.
Other pitchers throw on flat ground in left field to get their scheduled throwing work in.
And rehabbers who haven’t reached the throwing stage or pitchers not schedule to thrown that day start to get their running in. One of the staff is assigned to them to see that they are running correctly. (?)
Carlton – A different set of exercises and throwing for the pitchers who are going to throw that day. These guys are easy to identify. They wear uniform pants. When a group is ready, they go to the Seven Mounds to pitch. The area is off limits, but if I stand by the fence on the first base side of Roberts, I can see a couple clearly, and guess at the identity of the guys behind the green mesh.
For instance, I knew Gowdy was in the pitching group. He was behind the mesh, but I long ago picked up on one of his idiosyncrasies and was able to identify and focus on him. It was encouraging. I also was able to watch McArthur, Medina, Miller, and Perkins.
Roberts – half of the position players (about 14-15, plus 4 or more catchers), and
Schmidt – the other half of the position players (about 12-13, plus 3-4 or more catchers)
They run through the same drills on each of these fields.
Ground balls for the infielders. I noticed that they are stressing how shortstops, for instance, should take a ball on their backhand. Not just backhand and throw off a planted right foot. But, a technique where the fielder backhands after “surrounding” the ball and has his momentum actually already moving back to his left. This technique gets the ball to first a little quicker. I tried to pick up all the instruction from the trainer, but couldn’t get it all. The instructor was Larry Bowa. I hope they know and appreciate who this was coming from.
Fly balls and charging balls for the outfielders.
Blocking drills for the catchers.
Base running techniques for the infielders, outfielders, and whichever catchers aren’t working on the Seven Mounds. Not just length of lead, secondary leads, and at what point to break for the next bag. But, width of stance, balls of the feet rather than flat footed, crossover v. step, knees bent v. stiff legged, and weight distribution.
And then, batting practice. They set up three stations on each field. I think Mitch Rupert described this when he saw it in Williamsport. The group splits – half stay outside and the other half go to the indoor batting cages, I assume because the guys doing this today didn’t do it yesterday.
Okay, you’ve got your normal batting cage set up and the guys go through the normal rotation of opposite field one set, up the middle one set, pull one set, and wherever you want to (or can) one set. The only difference is that the pitcher is much closer to simulate a faster pitch. If you’ve ever seen Larry Bowa throw BP during ST, it’s even closer than that.
One of the other stations has the batter hitting balls chucked at him underhand. Kind of like the drill where the coach sits in the opposite batter’s box and flips balls over the plate for the batter, except in this drill the coach is behind a screen about ten feet in front of the batter. One coach sits behind the screen and fires overhand.
And, the other station has the batter hit from a tee. But, he does so after taking a couple steps from the back of or even behind the batter’s box. Reminded me of Happy Gilmore driving balls off the tee in the movie of the same name. I had worked out three possible reasons for this drill before Steve asked Jason Ochart. The drill is to remind the batter to transfer weight from back to front and hit a line drive up the middle.
Then they get fed. Today, I saw them carrying stools back to the indoor batting cages. More meetings, I suppose.
There are certainly more than the 101 guys I’ve identified so far. I know Ethan Lindow was invited, I just haven’t seen him yet. Wingrove and Mitchell are here, but I haven’t seen Glogoski nor Mead. As well as a couple other guys I would have expected to be here.
I watched Aldeghari throw on flat ground in left field. First time I’ve seen him throw. He has a deliberate delivery, but the ball explodes out of his hand. Now, maybe it’s exploding at 89 or 93. Can’t tell from where I was standing. But, I cant wait to see him throw on a gun. BTW, he’s built like Mezquita if that helps. Maybe a little taller.