Today was one of those days where my aching “Frankenfoot” was just too painful for me to bear weight so as I rested I decided to read Dallas Green’s book, “The Mouth That Roared.”
After his passing this week, I feel doubly lucky that when I bought the book, I bought it directly from him. Two years ago, he had a book signing at then Brighthouse Field. I bought a ticket specifically to see Dallas.
This is what I wrote at the time:
Dallas Green is now a member of the Phillies front office, but is most recognized as the manager of the 1980 World Series winning Phillies team. He’s often around the Carpenter Complex and he too, often says hello to me in passing. He recently had a book signing of his book, “The Mouth That Roared-My Six Outspoken Decades in Baseball.”
I purchased a book and when I got to the table to have it signed, I recounted to Green that as a young child I was *cough, cough* “sick” the day of the World Series parade so that I could stay home and watch it on television. I asked him to “not tell my mother I faked illness to see the parade” and he had a hearty laugh.
He even left a nice inscription in my book.
When I read that inscription today, it really hit me, it felt like while he is gone, that big personality will go on, carried on in his book and in the memories of us who loved seeing him at Spring Training and at games.
RIP Dallas Green, Rest In Peace.
Yesterday, the new and updated Phillies minor league workgroup list was released. The most major change is that there are now players in the fifth column. This is a combination of players being sent down as well as some players that are on the DL now being included in the list.
While there are rumors of five players being released, there has been no “official” confirmation so I have not mentioned those whom we suspect have been released.
Please remember that until the final players are sent down from major league camp, the lists are rather fluid.
Today was one of those days where nothing went as planned but turned out great in the end. I had hoped to see former Blue Jay Pat Venditte make his first appearance at Phillies camp since being traded to the Phils from the Mariners. Since he had just returned from the World Baseball Classic, we thought that he would be at the Phillies’ complex. He was not.
So I jumped in my Mini and headed back to Dunedin and to the Mattick Training Complex where the AA and AAA Phillies and Jays teams were playing. I got to the field as the Jays were taking the field in the bottom of the third inning. Just as I got behind home, the crowd rushed to the fence and when I looked up, I could see why, Josh Donaldson was about to bat.
I have to pause here to say that this was one of the coldest days of the winter. Early this morning, it was 39* F (4*C) and by now, it was in the mid 50s (12.8* C) with a very strong wind coming in from the gulf, right into our faces. It was freezing.
Donaldson took a swing……
Even into that strong headwind, there was no doubt that that ball was going to go out. There was a collective, “Ooooh” from the crowd as the ball cleared the fence and bounced out into the grass near the softball fields on the other side. It was one beautiful shot INTO the wind.
It was his last at bat of the day so I don’t know how his earlier at bats went, but let me tell you, he’s hit long homers into the wind the last two days, there is no doubt that his timing is down and he should be good to go, once he is given the green light to run again.
I never did get to see Venditte, rumor is that he was with the Phillies MLB team. Frankly, I forgot about him once I saw Donaldson hit that homer.
While I was raised in Pennsylvania, since moving to Dunedin, the spring training home of the Toronto Blue Jays, I’ve grown to have a soft spot for “Canada’s Team”. They are my favorite American League team.
A dear friend who blogs about the Jays messaged me last night saying he had heard that Josh Donaldson was going to play in a minor league game. My interest was piqued.
Here’s the thing, while the Jays were playing the Phillies, there was no way to know what team Donaldson would play for. There were 4 teams to choose from, the low A teams at the Jays’ complex and the AA and AAA teams at the Phillies. While the logical choice would think AAA, since they were playing at the Carpenter Complex, would they have Donaldson play with the A kids so that he would stay at their training facility? I took a chance and went to the AAA game at the Carpenter Complex. The Jays’ bus arrived. No Donaldson. Shucks. I debated driving the 5 miles (back) to Dunedin but since we had come in Baseball Ross’ car, I stayed. I was rewarded when they posted the line up and Donaldson was scheduled to take 3 at-bats.
I was happy, at least I was in the right place. 15 minutes before game time…no Donaldson. 5 minutes before game time…no Donaldson. Gametime? Nope. He got there (as it would seem planned) soon after the game started. He got the trainer and they took off for the Phillies indoor batting cages. He soon returned and was inserted into the line up.
Donaldson was up against the Phillies Alec Asher. He fouled a ball or two and then…I think at this point I need to say that this was one on the absolutely windiest days I’ve ever seen for a baseball game. We had some gusts of wind that made it hard for me to stand and take photos. This would come into play for the next pitch to Donaldson.
Donaldson squared up Asher’s pitch, it got caught up in the gusts to left-center, it just kept going. The Phillies outfielder stopped running and watched…it was going, going…..Then the breeze hit the side wall of Spectrum Field and it became a stiff “air-curtain”. Donaldson, who had taken one look at the ball and assumed it was gone…looked on in horror. He had already started for the dug out. He was almost through the door when he realized it hit the air-curtain and it was slowing down..this was the same time the outfielder realized it and he started running at a full speed. The ball dropped as if it hit a physical wall and dropped right along the fence! The stunned outfielder missed it and it hit the ground.
It was then that Donaldson laughed and went, “Uh-oh!” and started for first (while still holding his bat) in what could only be called a “penguin-style” waddle. Everyone one laughed.
In the article that includes an interview with Donaldson that I’ll post at the end of the blog, they incorrectly state that the ball was caught.
Donaldson went on to bat three more times but didn’t have a hit. His timing seemed good but many of the balls went foul and the wind was the cause of many of the balls going foul instead of down the line.
After he was done, he packed up immediately to leave but he took time to sign autographs…
And I got one! (I have really slowed down on collecting autographs the last year or two, in fact my goal was 2 this year, Donaldson and Bautista. I’m 50% done!)
He was even so kind to allow people to walk with him to his car and he continued to sign and take pictures with fans before he left.
When Donaldson left, the Jays were up 2-0. They were not running the scoreboards so I do not know what the final was…once Donaldson was gone, I started going back and forth between the three games that were going on at the time and lost track.
Donaldson was interviewed by the plethora of media that was in attendance and he seemed pleased with his performance. You can see coverage of the interview HERE.
I think my favorite moment and the moment that showed what a class act Donaldson is, was when Donaldson was done, he went to the player whose place in the line up he took with his at-bats and thanked him for allowing him to do so. I’ve seen a lot of major leaguers step into a minor league game to get a few plate appearances in but I’ve never seen anyone thank the player he displaced. It was a first class move.
So that was the highlight of my day…and may be of my spring training. *Sigh* I love baseball.
Today the Phillies acquired AMBIDEXTROUS reliever Pat Venditte from the Mariners for Joey Curletta. We were there when Joey Curletta was told he had been traded. At the time, that was all we knew. Curletta was sitting on the bench during the minor league intrasquad game. He didn’t even know where he was going, he was only told he had been traded and that he needed to go pack.
I hadn’t gotten to know Curletta who was acquired in the Carlos Ruiz trade. I’d seen him around this year but never got the chance to talk.
I was, however, very excited that the Phillies have acquired Venditte! I, like Venditte, am one of those rare people who are ambidextrous. I first became aware of Venditte when an associated press article ran the headline, “Amphibious Pitcher Makes Debut”.Being ambidextrous isn’t common. According to the American Psychological Association, 90% of the population is right-handed with the remaining 10% being left handed, or a mild combination of left and right handedness. They estimate that only 1% of the population is actually, truly ambidextrous. I was raised “right” and only discovered that I was ambidextrous when I hurt my right hand in an accident. It took less than a week to be able to sign my name with my left similarly to my right handed signature. Full-blown legible writing didn’t take much longer. I’ve gotten to the point that I can sign either way and it usually is dependent on what hand is free to grab the pen. It really comes in handy when painting. I’m an amateur painter and there are times where being able to paint with the “other” hand is just easier so that you don’t drag your hand through paint or you can get a better angle with the brush.
Venditte is currently playing in the World Baseball Classic for Team Italy and will join the Phillies here in Clearwater as soon as they are eliminated or the tournament is over. I’m excited to see him and hope I can get his autograph. Us 1%-ers need to stick together, or is that walk hand in hand in hand in hand?
This is the part of spring training where in many aspects, it’s hard to write a narrative of where a team is going to be. This week is sort of a “limbo”for the players. There are way too many players in camp and the minor leaguers who are on the major league roster have yet to be cut.
The major league camp will start cutting players and those players will either be sent to minor league camp or given their outright release. Once that happens, all of the players sent down will have to be placed on a roster and then the players will have to be shifted around and again, some will be given their release as well.
It’s a nervous time. That being said, as far as a story, the story is the minor leaguers are playing other minor leaguers to keep a spot on the roster. It’s as if everyone is waiting for the other proverbial “shoe to drop”.
Baseball Ross and I will have a recap of the week’s intrasquad games tomorrow so be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel, you can find it HERE.
What I thought I’d share today is a series of pictures I took for your enjoyment.