Odubel Herrera and Cesar Hernandez Make Rehab Appearances in Minor League Game

Guess I just got lucky, went to the first minor league game of the season and managed to catch both Odubel Herrera and Cesar Hernandez making rehab appearances. I saw Odubel made 3 at bats and Hernandez 2 (they may have batted more, but as I was covering 2 games-They may have batted more.) Neither played the field.

Many times in minor league spring games, rehabbing major leaguers will bat at the top of every inning until they get their work done.

Odubel Herrera
Cesar Hernandez

Josh Donaldson Makes Another Rehab Appearance

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.

Welcome to the Blue Jays

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……

Josh Donaldson
Josh Donaldson
Josh Donaldson
Josh Donaldson

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.


My Favorite Carlos Ruiz Story

For the most part, we all have the collective memories of Carlos “Chooch” Ruiz, running into the arms of Brad Lidge after winning the World Series in 2008, catching Roy Halladay’s  perfect game and the no hitter in the World Series, it’s our collective memory. I feel lucky that I have something a little different.

I’ve been going to Spring Training since 2007, so I’ve tried to get his autograph many times. Until the last few years, he didn’t sign a lot at Spring Training. He was what us autograph hounds call  a “hard get” or a hard to get autograph. It always seemed like when I did catch him signing, I’d be the one next to the guy who got the last autograph before Ruiz stopped signing. It was frustrating. I’d spent years trying and had nothing to show for it.

I had a good number of the 2008 World Series team and I was just about at the end of my rope. Then, two years ago, Ruiz was making a rehab appearance after his Adderall suspension. Baseball Ross and I went over to Steinbrenner Field where the Threshers were playing the Tampa Yankees. Being familiar with how the stadium was set up, I went to stand on the third base side to the left of the dugout. Pitchers and catchers usually exit the dugout, walk down the third base side and then down to the visitors’ bullpen that is in the corner by left field. I went down to the front row, just next to that side of the dugout and waited before the game. I was the only one there.

On the other side of the dugout was a large group of fans, pens in hand, waiting. when he exited the locker room and entered the dugout they started screaming, “Chooch! Chooch!” They started jostling and pushing for position. I stayed quiet and alone on the third base line. He looked at the cacophony and quietly turned away and headed for the bullpen.

As he approached me I quietly said, “Excuse me, Mr. Ruiz, would you please sign my ball?” He looked at me and gave that smile and signed for me. I said, “Thank you.” and he replied, “You’re welcome.” With a nod of his head he continued on his was as the gaggle of autograph groupies were loudly running from the other side of the dug out, “Chooching” the entire way.

Ruiz just gave me one last smile as he walked away. It always made me like the guy, I felt like I was just a little bit special. I guess he appreciated my politeness and was turned off by the craziness on the other end.

Carlos Ruiz ball next to my signed Roy Halladay’s signed glove

Ruiz was also the subject of my favorite ballpark giveaway, the “Chooching Owl”. It’s a “hoot”!


Cody Asche Back in Uniform

I was pleasantly surprised to see my favorite Phillies fielder back in uniform tonight. He dons the grey and red of the Threshers for the game against the Tampa Yankees. 

Cody is playing left and batting second.

Asche had been sidelined since spring training with an oblique injury.

“Smache Asche” is back!

I got to the Carpenter Complex just as Cody Asche got to the plate. I wasn’t aware he was going to play and was happy to see him at the plate.

I was then rewarded by getting to see him hit a long homer at Robin Roberts field that landed at the base of Rt 19! 

In the words of the great Harry Kalas, “That ball is outta here!”


Cody Asche

Cody Asche

JP Crawford Hits 2 Run Homer in 2015 Clearwater Threshers Debut

JP Crawford, 20 from Lakewood California,  was the DH today in Clearwater as he ended his stint on the DL for an oblique injury.

Crawford, had 3AB, 2 R, 2H, 1HR, 3RBI, 1BB, 1SO and was HBP, giving him a .667 average for the day.

Biddle is Back in the Saddle

I’ve been a fan of Jesse Biddle since 2010. If you’ve been reading my blog, you may have read my story from Jesse’s first appearance in Clearwater… SEE HERE where I recounted first seeing him make his first professional start in Williamsport.

I consider myself lucky that I’ve gotten to know him. After seeing someone pitch over the years you start to recognize their rhythm, their little habits, all the things they do before-and-after each pitch.

When I saw Jesse back in June, it was his second to last start before being deactivated. He seemed tense, all the “little things” seemed off, nothing you’d notice if you’d hadn’t been watching him for years.

Tonight, Jesse was different, he was like that Jesse I’ve known all these years. His confidence was back and all the little habits are just as they were when he was here in Clearwater back in 2012. Jesse was great! At he end of the fifth inning when they pulled him, he had a no-no going: 5 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 K.

He pitched well and made a play at first, SEE HERE




And this may be the best baseball picture I’ve ever taken:


It was good to see my friend doing what he is capable of doing. I really enjoy watching him succeed.

Welcome back, Jesse!

GCL Photos- Nieves, Ruf and Dykstra

It’s a scorcher here in Clearwater. Those of us brave enough to sit out in the heat and humidity were treated to a pair of major leaguers on rehab, Wil Nieves and Darren Ruf. We were also able to see Luke Dykstra, son of Lenny Dykstra play for the Braves.