Pitchers and Catchers Report, Day One of Phillies Spring Training 2015

This is NOT how you want to start “Spring” Training. It was only a high of 50 with 25mph winds blowing in from the North. It was sunny, but it really didn’t help very much. Sadly, tomorrow will likely be worse as there is a “hard freeze” warning here, meaning it will be under freezing for several hours. So it’s a little iffy if I will be there much tomorrow and if I am there, for how long.

The chilly weather didn’t deter the Phillies Phaithful who braved the elements to see their favorite players. Usually on the first day, the program starts with a talk to the pitchers and it traditionally was given at “Seven Mounds” or the pitching mounds behind the main complex building. Ross and I thought that they may get a late start and would have the meeting inside. We got to the complex at 11 to find that they were out at 10 and were already into the PFPs or Pitcher Fielding Practice.

Jake Diekman
Jake Diekman
Kenny Giles
Kenny Giles
Camels Looks Unamused
Hamels Looks Unamused
Cliff Lee
Cliff Lee

 

Jonathan Papelbon
Jonathan Papelbon 

The first day is always a blast for me. Baseball Ross and I have been going to Spring Training for so long that we have gotten to know a lot of the regulars and it’s almost like a family reunion. That first day is always full of handshakes, hugs and catching up.

I also got to see a few of my favorite minor leaguers, which to me is my favorite part. I’ve known a bunch of these guys for what has been their entire careers and it’s nice to be remembered for always being there.

After the MLBers were done around noon, Ross and I left to get warm and grab something to eat and on our way home we passed the complex to see some players out. We were treated by getting to watch some of our MiLBer friends pitching live batting practice.

Carlos Alonso
Carlos Alonso
Cord Sandberg
Cord Sandberg
Colin Kleven
Colin Kleven
Seth Rosin
Seth Rosin
Austin Wright
Austin Wright

It looks like our minor leaguers reported to camp healthy and in great shape. Carlos Alonso smacked two almost out of the park, one died half way up the fence BUT it had been hit INTO THOSE ROARING WINDS! One of the guys remarked to him, “Hey Los, how about saving some?”

Colin Kleven looked really sharp and had a really crisp breaking pitch. He left a big smile on pitching coach Steve Schrenk’s face.

That’s it from Day One.

 

 

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. 🙂

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…

Pitchers and Catchers, Day 1

In Philly, they woke to inches of snow. In Clearwater, we had sun but it was cold (relatively speaking) in the 50s with winds gusting to 30 mph.

The cold didn’t seem to bother the pitchers, catchers or even Chase Utley who also was seen on the field.

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Despite the cold and wind, the guys seemed to be having a good time on their first day.

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Mario Hollands, a lefty, non-roster invitee, smiled as he ran through his drills.

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Jesse Biddle, also a non-roster invitee, looked serious.

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David Buchanan also was working hard.

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Jonathan Papelbon also participated.

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Despite having shoulder tendinitis, Cole Hamels was an active participant in the drills.

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Kenny Giles, who I last saw topping the speed gun in Dunedin at 101mph was in Hamels’ group.

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Sabastian Valle, recently left off the 40-man roster, was working hard.

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Carlos Ruiz looked svelte and ready to take on all comers.

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It was also good to see the return of catcher Lou Marson.

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Veteran Cliff Lee did two runs through the drills, once with the other veterans, once with the younger players.

20140213-182701.jpgAnd finally, in case you missed it, here is the most recent roster given out this morning…although it’s already out of date as Chad Gaudin was released this morning after failing his physical.

So there you have it in a nutshell. Day one is in the cold books.