BREAKING: Ramon Hernandez out as Clearwater Manager

The Phillies announced today that Ramon Hernandez “will not manage Clearwater this season as previously announced for personal reasons.”

Williamsport Crosscutter Manager, Nelson Prada has been promoted to take the helm in Advanced-A Clearwater.

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Spring training day five – old and new

As I think about today, I realize there’s two things on my mind, the old and the new. The old? Players like Abreu and Rollins even Howard and Utley. I’m also thinking of the young.

I was able to get Chase Utley’s autograph today. And seeing him up close I realize that in my mind, I still see him as a 25-year-old, even though that’s not true. I see Abreu and for some reason he does seem like he’s been a player forever.

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It’s almost like what’s old is new. Baseball is a cycle. A player starts, he rises and comes down if you’re lucky you get to see him the whole way through. Like Abreu. He was my mother-in-law’s favorite player. Even when she was at the end of her life, she always wanted to see Abreu play. She’s been gone now, for several years and now her Bobby Abreu is back and it’s sort of bittersweet for me.

And I think of the new, not only like Cody Asche and Darren Ruf but also of some younger guys in the farm system.

Some of the players from the lower levels have started to trickle into camp. I’ve seen Carlos Alonzo, Steve Susdorf,Hoby Milner, Perci Garner and many others. And I’ve also seen some of last year’s Gulf Coast League Phillies trickle into camp.

One of those boys, Rivar Anguilo, made my day today. Sometimes, when you go to the rookie league games. There’s only three or four spectators. If you are one of the people who goes all the time the players get to know you and you get to know them. Last summer, I got to know quite a few of these younger players. Rivar was one of those guys. I made cookies for the boys last summer, I only did it two or three times, but I guess Rivar remembered. When he came into camp today and saw me standing there, his face lit up, it was a huge smile! He came right over and not only did he shake my hand strongly, he gave me a great big kiss on the cheek!

I think that made my weekend! Just to know that little bit of kindness meant so much to someone that six months later they are that happy to see you. People sometimes ask me why I like the lower levels of baseball and this is one reason why. Just a few minutes out of my week to make some cookies for some boys and it must have made an impression.

Just another reason to love baseball.

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It was a short day for me, but an interesting one

Sometimes the worst part about living in Clearwater during spring training is that sometimes real life gets in the way of your baseball life. Baseball Ross and I had to cut today short to return home to meet with a handyman to do some work around our house.

That doesn’t mean we didn’t get to see the beginning of today’s workouts. Today’s workouts, started much like all the other workouts, The team gathers around one of the mounds and one of the coaches lecture about what they are going to work on for the day.

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After that, the team spreads out over several fields to continue stretching and start the drills for their appropriate position.

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At one point, I saw Ryne Sandberg apparently lecturing Chase Utley while Chase was stretching.

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In what seems like some good news, Aaron Altherr was working out without wearing the brace on his right wrist. As I mentioned yesterday, Aaron told me that his wrist is coming along nicely and he hopes to be back on track soon.

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Though, I have to admit my favorite picture of the day, is this one I took of Jimmy Rollins. It was one of those rare moments where it seems like he was having a lot of fun!

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We hope to be back out on the fields tomorrow watching practice, however, there is some bad weather moving in and there is a chance that it may rain so outdoor practice may or may not happen. If it does, Baseball Ross and I will be there.

Date three full squad spring training

It was another beautiful day here in Clearwater. The sun was shining, temperatures were in the mid 70s, it was a great day for baseball.

The day began with pitching drills,

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Jesse Biddle shown in action, above.

One person not taking part in drills today was Aaron Altherr. He was sporting a brace on his injured right wrist. I talked to him, he said that his wrist is feeling good and seems to be on track.

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Roy Halladay, guest instructor, has been making regular rounds to each of the fields to observe and offer his advice.

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I also got to see Cody Asche take drills at third-base, this time from a better vantage point than in previous days. I also was able to get his autograph today on a major-league ball. As I told him when I talked to him, “I’ve been waiting a long time to give you a major-league ball to sign.” He laughed, and said, “so have I.”

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But today, the highlight was getting hall of fame player Ryne Sandberg’s autograph. I was also able to get this really cool picture. If you know where to look, you can find me in the picture.

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This was a great day for baseball, I had a great time, got a little sun, it just doesn’t get better than this!

Day Two, Full Squad

It was another glorious day at spring training. One of the most surprising things is the crowds that it’s come out daily. The crowds are some of the largest I have ever seen almost as large as the crowds in 2009, the year after the Phillies won the world series.

When I left barely an hour after practice started due to a prior commitment, the lot was not only full but they were directing people to park at the disc golf park a quarter mile away.

Another difference from prior years is the intensity to which the practices are conducted. In previous years it seemed as if they were just going through the motions, this year there is a certain intensity to the practices the coaches are involved and manager Ryne Sandberg goes from field to field overseeing the drills.

Another change worth mentioning is the demeanor and attitude of notoriously grumpy Jonathan Papelbon. As I mentioned yesterday, Papelbon seems to be in a much better mood chatting and joking with fans when appropriate. He even has a smile on his face.

Because of my prior commitment I did have to leave early today, but in the hour I was there I saw some true intensity on the field and it gives me hope that maybe there will be some success this year.

First Full Day of Spring Training

Note: I dedicate today’s blog to my friend David…who tells me I can’t slack on my blogging. πŸ™‚

It’s the first day of the full team reporting to the major league spring training. The first thing was it was the first day to leave the jeans and sweatshirts behind! The weather has cleared and it is warm and beautiful!

After a talk with Ryne Sanberg,
the boys came out and stretched.

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First they started running bases. From this I saw that Utley is moving well, possibly better than he has for years. Bobby Abreu was running smoothly, though his speed was noticeably less than the rest.

Then, from where I was, I watched some drills that included both pitchers and position players.

It was much more active and intense than in the previous days. What I liked hearing was new pitcher Roberto Hernandez telling young Jesse Biddle that they throw he made was, “Amazing”.

Utley also fielded well and showed no signs of injury.

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I also managed to add two great autographs to my collection: Jonathan Papelbon and Mickey Morandini.

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Jonathan Papelbon really surprised me. In the past he rarely signed and frankly, I didn’t recognize him at first. He was so relaxed and might ineven say, happy today? It doesn’t seem to be his natural state. All the other times I’ve seen him he’s had a “look”, his mouth was tight and he looked angry at the world. Today, a man called to him and he signed for everyone there and laughed and joked with everyone as he signed.

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Morandini was also in a jovial mood, joking that, “what are you guys doing here, wouldn’t you rather be at the beach?”

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Another change from previous years is that before, they always wrapped up at noon…today, when I left at 1:15, they were still going strong.

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It was a good day…

Spring training workouts for spectators

Tonight after finishing my blog I realized my feet and legs were a bit sore and tired.

I wear a fitbit pedometer everyday so I checked and since Thursday when pitchers and catchers reported, Baseball Ross and I have walked 18.25 MILES! Most of which was at the complex/Bright House. (2 miles was at Disney Friday and we do walk out dogs for short walks every night)

18.25 miles in five days after the winter “lay off. So I’m going to go
Take some Advil and get ready for tomorrow. At this pace, I’ll need some new kicks by the time the teams go north! πŸ™‚