So Long, Farewell…For Now-Spring Training is over

Spring training is at its end. Today the teams that are going North packed their bags and headed for the airport. Baseball Ross and I got there just in time to see some of our Lakewood BlueClaws friends as they loaded the equipment truck.

Meanwhile, the Threshers and Extended Spring Training teams were preparing for another intra-squad game. The weather was very sketchy. It’s never a good sign at 10 a.m. when they have to turn the lights on on the field just to play. (Note: I had to lighten these pictures quite a bit just so that they were useable.)

It was a dark day in Clearwater
It was a dark day in Clearwater

The key for today was to get two of the Phillies major league pitchers some work before the rains came in.

Jared Eickhoff
Jared Eickhoff

Jared Eickhoff pitched the top of the first.

Vincent Velazquez
Vincent Velazquez

Vincent Velazquez came in in the bottom of the first and  gave up a home run to Kyle Martin. After that, just as he got the third out, lightning flashed nearby and they called the game.

Baseball Ross and I started for the car and saw the buses lined up and waiting for the equipment truck to move so that they could pull down the driveway so the players could load.

buses

And there you have it, the end of another Phillies spring training.

I do want to mention my favorite part of spring training, Don. Don is the host at the Carpenter Complex. He keeps an eye on everything going on and is a genuinely great guy. The players love him and so do the fans. Don has been at his post as long as I can remember and I have to say as much as I look forward to spring training every year, I look forward to seeing Don even more. He always has a good word to say and I don’t think I have ever seen him without a smile on his face. He is the highlight of spring training for me. Spring training would never be “right” without Don. Ross and I feel lucky to call Don our friend.

Baseball Ross, Don and Baseball Betsy
Baseball Ross, Don and Baseball Betsy

 

More Phillies Minor Leaguers Released-As Of April 2, 2016

Since my last release post, I’ve discovered that four more Phillies minor leaguers have been released.

Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez
Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez

Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, a Cuban, was given $12 million over four years but had only appeared in 5 1/3 major league innings.

Cody Forsythe
Cody Forsythe

Cody Forsythe, who played in Clearwater last season was a surprising release.

Calvin Rayburn
Calvin Rayburn

Calvin Rayburn was a bit of a surprise as he had pitched just the day before.

Finally, Panamanian catcher Jose Mayorga was also released.

Jose Mayorga
Jose Mayorga-photo courtesy of the Lakewood BlueClaws

As someone who knows quite a few of these guys, in this case Rayburn and Mayorga, it’s a tough thing to see. I wish them the best and hope they fine another team soon.

Scenes From Phillies Minor League Spring Training-March 31, 2016

As minor league training camp is winding down, the mood and tempo is also winding down. The mood is more quiet, more like waiting for it all to be over. I took most of yesterday to try to catch the few players I haven’t seen yet as well as chat with a few of my friends before they leave.

I found something new to be fascinated with. I have long had a fascination with the knuckle ball. But now it’s with Hoby Milner’s side arm pitch. I’ve long been a fan of and friend of Hoby. He’s a great kid who had some struggles and changed his pitch from the usual overhand to a full-fledged side arm.

I was trying to cover both games so I missed his first inning but according to the BlueClaws Blog, he threw two scoreless innings. I didn’t get any video, but wish I had. Once I started watching, I could not turn away.

Hoby Milner
Hoby Milner

While I didn’t have video, I have placed the photos in sequence so you can get a feel of the motion:

Hoby Milner
Hoby Milner
Hoby Milner
Hoby Milner
Hoby Milner
Hoby Milner

The sound and movement of the ball was unique. It had a different kind of “whoosh” to it and it seemed to almost swerve from Hoby’s hand, out to the right of the batter and at the last second, swerve back over the plate. The batters just didn’t know what to make of it. In the inning I saw, there were times that the batters would just stand there as the ball went by, not knowing how to time their swing. It was really cool to watch. I almost forgot to take pictures.

Ben Lively (left) pitching to Logan Moore. (David Buchanan on the right)
Ben Lively (left) pitching to Logan Moore. (David Buchanan on the right)

Something else that I saw that was different is Ben Lively’s fastball. I’ve hung around bullpens enough, right behind the catcher, that it really doesn’t phase me. I am usually immune to the snap that the ball makes as it crashes into Logan Moore’s glove. I’ll admit, the first time I heard Lively’s fastball, it actually startled me. I jumped and almost dropped my phone.

HERE’S VIDEO of Lively pitching. The first and third pitches are “normal” and the second is one of the fastballs.

Those were the two things that I enjoyed watching. Today is the last full day of camp. Tomorrow there will be some drills/intra-squad early before the guys shower and load their equipment onto the trucks to go north. I hope to be there to say good-bye to my friends.

 

After the Last Phillies Game-Dedication is Rewarded 

Since we left the Phillies game early, Basrball Ross and I stopped by the Carpenter Complex and I was rewarded.

I try to take at least one picture of every player and this year, because of my injury, I was missing quite a few. I was happy to catch up with five I had missed.

 

Edgar Ibarra

 
Chris Leroux

  

  

David Lough
 
Ryan Jackson
  
I think my favorite thing of the day was seeing Jeff Singer pitch. He seemed to have a smile on his face, as if he was just enjoying the game. He was fun to watch.

   

Jeff Singer
  
Jeff Singer
  
Jeff Singer
 

Phillies Come Back to Win 8-4-Photos from the Game

This has been a tough spring. My foot injury kept me from going to any Phillies games until today, the last game. On the plus side, the ticket was FREE, so there’s that.

I have to be honest, I really didn’t feel like I was missing much, I love the minor league teams. Those guys are playing every game as it could be their last. Especially after the last round of cuts, it’s obvious that it COULD be their last. They play every game, every play. For many it’s not a job, it’s a passion. There’s something beautiful in that, something simple.

I did enjoy seeing the Phanatic:

Phanatic
Phanatic
I got to see Roman Quinn and Angelo Mora get the end of spring training awards:

Angelo Mora and Roman Quinn get the end of spring training awards.
Angelo Mora and Roman Quinn get the end of spring training awards.
Jeremy Hellickson pitched:

Jeremy Hellickson
Jeremy Hellickson
Peter Bourjos led off:

Peter Bourjos
Peter Bourjos
Then, in order:

Cesar Hernandez
Cesar Hernandez

Maikel Franco
Maikel Franco

Darin Ruf
Darin Ruf

Cameron Rupp
Cameron Rupp

Andres Blanco
Andres Blanco

Tyler Goeddel
Tyler Goeddel

Will Venable
Will Venable

Jeremy Hellickson
Jeremy Hellickson
As it was 0-0 when we needed to leave.  I was feeling like it was ok, that I wasn’t going to miss anything, I mean nothing happened the first time through the line up.

Baseball Ross and I wanted to stop by Carpenter to see some of the minor leaguers, there’s still a few I need to get pictures of…so we started walking. (Well he walked and I hobbled.) By the time we got over there, the Phillies were losing to the Astros 3-0. We sighed and settled in to watching the young ones….

Next thing I knew my phone started going nuts and the Phillies came back to win, 8-4. I guess this is a lesson…I leave, the Phillies win. You’re welcome Phillies fans!

 

 

More Phillies Minor Leaguers Released-Including One of Our “Baseball Sons”

This is the part I hate about spring training, the cuts.  It’s especially tough when you know the guys like Baseball Ross and I do. Some of this week’s cuts, come close to home, as we have known some of these guys for years and one is one of our “baseball sons”.

The first was pitcher Lino Martinez.

Lino Martinez, photo courtesy of MiLB.com
Lino Martinez, photo courtesy of MiLB.com

Then my friend, catcher Jesus Posso

Jesus Posso, photo courtesy of MiLB.com
Jesus Posso, photo courtesy of MiLB.com

Then short stop Dylan Bosheers

Dylan Bosheers, photo courtesy of MiLB.com
Dylan Bosheers, photo courtesy of MiLB.com

Also Scott Tomasetti, catcher

Scott Tomasetti, photo courtesy of MiLB.com
Scott Tomasetti, photo courtesy of MiLB.com

Pitcher Andrew Godail

Andrew Godail
Andrew Godail

Former Stanford quarterback, pitcher Evan Crower

Evan Crower
Evan Crower

And finally, the one that tears me up and breaks my heart, my first baseball “son” and last years’ Williamsport Crosscutters Booster Club Fan Favorite:

Feliberto Sanchez

Feliberto Sanchez
Feliberto Sanchez

Feliberto wasn’t just any player, he was/is/will always be one of my favorites. We met him four years ago when he began his career with the Gulf Coast League Phillies and I am grateful to have had the last four years where he has called us his “American Parents”.

I always joked that he was meant to be my “son” as we have the same crazy sense of humor and the two of us could understand each other without even talking…much to Ross’ chagrin. Feliberto and I could play jokes on Ross and before he knew what was going on, Feliberto and I would be laughing hysterically.

While I didn’t mention him by name, he is the one that caused my “crazy trip to the Tampa Airport post” (you can read that fiasco HERE) When I got him back to go to hotel that night, he wouldn’t let me leave until he gave me the gift he had made for Ross and I and it is one of my most cherished possessions.

The plaque
The plaque

It says “Special for my parents, I love you Mom and Dad”.

That year, he had hurt his knee at Thanksgiving and was flown first to Philly for surgery then here to Clearwater for rehab-which is why I had picked him up at the airport.

While rehabbing, he was here for a month, returning to the Dominican just two days before Christmas. The day before he left, he was allowed to leave the hotel for the afternoon and we had an “American” Christmas.

Our Christmas
Our Christmas

Baseball Ross asked me to add: 

“In Sanchez’ last two games he pitched five innings and struck out NINE…yet he was never given a chance to move up to Lakewood.”

Even now, I get a little choked up seeing the plaque because it means that much to me. It hangs right by my chair in the livingroom and even though he’s back in the Dominican, he’s never far from my heart. The only thing that’s changed over the years is that I’ve dropped the term “baseball”, he is my son. Hopefully, one day soon we can get together again.

Scenes From Phillies Minor League Spring Training-March 28, 2016

It started out as a muggy afternoon and by the time the games were over, it was breezy and starting to sprinkle. I was kept busy by having the majority of my pitcher friends all pitching in the same game. There were two major leaguers, Carlos Ruiz and Charlie Morton on the other field. I was also lucky enough to meet two fans and the father of a player who loves the pictures of his son that Ross and I have posted. It’s things like that that make what we do so fun.

Here are the two major leaguers:

 

Carlos Ruiz
Carlos Ruiz
Charlie Morton
Charlie Morton

And the rest of the guys:

Scott Kingery
Scott Kingery
Jorge Alfaro
Jorge Alfaro
Aaron Brown
Aaron Brown
Rhys Hoskins
Rhys Hoskins
Grenny Cumana
Grenny Cumana
Cornelius Randolph
Cornelius Randolph
Deivi Grullon
Deivi Grullon
Rodolfo Duran
Rodolfo Duran
Luke Leftwich
Luke Leftwich
Josh Tobias
Josh Tobias
William Cuicas
William Cuicas
Will Morris
Will Morris
Gregory Rivero
Gregory Rivero
Andrew Pullin
Andrew Pullin
Jan Hernandez
Jan Hernandez
Luis Incarnation
Luis Encarnacion

I was excited to get this shot, as Encarnacion hit a homer on this swing.

Robert Tasin
Robert Tasin
Zach Coppola
Zach Coppola
Luis Espiritu
Luis Espiritu
Grenny Cumana
Grenny Cumana-This was as he started to steal second.
Seranthony Dominguez
Seranthony Dominguez
Damek Tomscha
Damek Tomscha
Venn Biter
Venn Biter
Ulises Joaquin
Ulises Joaquin
Felix Paulino
Felix Paulino
Alexis Rivero
Alexis Rivero
Jose Taveras
Jose Taveras

 

Scenes from Phillies Minor League Spring Training-March 27, 2016

Now that my foot is healing, I am able to get to spring training almost every day. I feel like I am playing “catch-up” after missing so many days. There are so many players that I haven’t had a chance to see, let alone photograph.

The highlight of yesterday was being able to catch Carlos Alonso’s home run:

Carlos Alonso
Carlos Alonso
Carlos Alonso
Carlos Alonso

Ryan Howard was playing and it seemed like he was struggling at the plate, striking out all three times I saw him bat, though Baseball Ross thinks he saw him hit a double later.

Ryan Howard
Ryan Howard

Drew Stankiewicz also hit a home run.

Drew Stankiewicz
Drew Stankiewicz

Here are some other shots from the day.

IMG_1208
Jacob Waguespack
IMG_1206
Sam Hiciano
IMG_1204
Matt Hockenberry
IMG_1203
Cornelius Randolph
IMG_1202
Venn Biter
IMG_1201
Grenny Cumana
IMG_1200
Alejandro Arteaga
IMG_1199
Grenny Cumana
IMG_1198
Jan Hernandez
IMG_1197
Brock Stassi
IMG_1196
Matt Imhof
IMG_1193
Jake Thompson
IMG_1192
Carlos Tocci
IMG_1191
Chase Numata
IMG_1189
Damek Tomscha
IMG_1188
Tyler Goeddel
IMG_1187
Matt Imhof
IMG_1186
Jorge Alfaro
IMG_1185
Andrew Knapp

Questions About Team Roster Announcements

 

Front Office Personnel

This weekend has been the most tense weekend of spring training, it’s the weekend when the decisions are made as to which team each player is assigned or if they are released.

As evidenced by the picture above, Phillies front office personnel have been watching intently. The players have been swinging for the fences-we have seen AT LEAST eight home runs this weekend alone.

After speaking with the players, they all say, “soon” and “by the end of the week”.  

While there another workgroup lists/rosters be released before then? Probably not. Usually th way we find out is to come the day they break camp and watch the players load their equipment into trucks labeled with the destination on it. For accuracy, we are stuck waiting for the teams to update the rosters on the websites.

As someone lucky enough to get to know these kids, it’s a hard week. It’s such a roller coaster, some guys move up, some stay at the same level and some sadly are released. It’s also hard to see them go, as we don’t know if we will get to see them until next year. 

For me, the best part is to see those guys who are moving up-they always have a look of promise on their faces. That is what I wait for all month. The look of accomplishment that makes it all worth while.

Happy Easter!

IMG_1101
Photo courtesy of Makerbot.com

It may be the Highest of Holy days on the Christian calendar, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be baseball today. It makes me think of the opening scene from that great baseball movie, “Bull Durham”:

I believe in the Church of Baseball. I’ve tried all the major religions and most of the minor ones. I’ve worshipped Buddha, Allah, Brahma, Vishnu, Siva, trees, mushrooms, and Isadora Duncan. I know things. For instance, there are 108 beads in a Catholic rosary and there are 108 stitches in a baseball. When I learned that, I gave Jesus a chance. [sigh] But it just didn’t work out between us. The Lord laid too much guilt on me. I prefer metaphysics to theology.

So in a little while, Baseball Ross and I will head out to the Carpenter Complex for a little “church”.

Happy Easter!