Closing Time, Spring Training Comes to an End.

As I drove to the Carpenter Complex Closing Time by Semisonic was playing in my mind. Especially the following:

Closing time
Time for you to go out to the places you will be from
Closing time
This room won’t be open till your brothers or your sisters come
So gather up your jackets, move it to the exits
I hope you have found a friend
Closing time
Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.

The end of Spring Training is always bittersweet. Some of the guys get promoted and that’s always amazing, some of the guys are held at the same level as the year before and sadly, a few are given their outright release. For me, the releases are especially hard. I’ve known some of these players 6, 7, 8 years and have grown fond of them and to see their dream end always makes a little piece of my heart die.

This year, it was the release of Perci Garner that broke my heart. I’ve known Perci since his days here in Clearwater. I got to know his beautiful son as he spent time around the Complex this spring. When he was released, it hit close to home.

I was also stunned by the release of Kyle Bogese. 24-year old Kyle Bogese was one of my favorite stories of the last year. Bogese, a Trinity University Alumni, went undrafted. He appeared at a “walk-on” tryout held in Williamsport and pitched himself into a contract. I thought that he had been doing rather well considering his short time with the team, however, he was released at the same time as Garner.

It is my hope that they can be picked up by another team looking for pitching, even if it is in independent ball. That’s what happened to Jiwan James. James, an outfielder, was released at the end of last season by the Phillies after spending considerable time on the DL in Reading after abdominal surgery. James first signed with the Bridgeport Bluefish, an independent team, before signing with the Detroit Tigers. As of today, he has yet to be assigned to a team within their organization.

While I was able to talk to my friends and I know where they are headed, there has been no official rosters released as of when this blog was posted, so I’ll have to wait for that. I’m glad that my friends seem to be ok with whatever their lot was and they all realize that a lot of changes happen in the first month or so of the season as some players’ dreams will end as they cannot play at the level they are assigned, some are injured, some players over perform and get promoted.

Personally, I think that with the large number of older pitchers that were picked up in the off-season, there may be a few that do not measure up or become injured which will allow some promotion of the younger pitchers. It’s inevitable and I know that those younger players are hungry to progress.

That’s why I try to focus on the last line of the section of Semisonic’s “Closing Time”… Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end…

spring training closed

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It’s All About the Pitching

Today Cliff Lee hit the mound for the first time since his injury last season.

Cliff Lee hits the mound for the first time since his injury
Cliff Lee hits the mound for the first time since his injury

Lee looked mostly like his “Old Self” and didn’t show any signs of discomfort, though he did not pitch very long.

It got me to thinking about the machinations that a pitcher goes through just to throw a pitch. Just look at Kenny Giles’ body position in the picture below:

Kenny Giles
Kenny Giles

Now, while that may look painful to the “Average Joe”, it works for Giles. How many other guys can hit 100? They don’t call him “Hundred Miles Giles” for nothing.

As I was running an errand between MLB and MiLB workouts, I got to thinking about injuries to pitchers and the stresses that their bodies must go through because of the force needed to throw. So when I got back to the field, I decided to film two pitchers in slow motion just to get a better idea of what might be happening. (I plan on trying this the next time I see Giles.)

This is former Thresher Perci Garner. I also filmed Kyle Bogese.

Edited to add: If you have headphones, turn up the sound on the videos…the crack of the ball smacking the mitt is astounding.

Bogese is an interesting story himself. This Trinity University graduate was discovered in a walk on try out last summer and came to Clearwater late for the Gulf Coast League. He was only one of four players that were found that way. Trinity’s story on Bogese claims he can throw at 97 mph. I can’t verify that as there are no public speed guns at the Carpenter complex.

If you study the slow motion video, you can get a little better feel of the force placed on areas such as the elbow or wrist. I thought it was interesting.

Upcoming Event: On Friday I will be talking with Jay Floyd of Phoulballz.com on his podcast at 1 p.m. (est). You can find his podcast here.

 

 

Final Workout Group Posting

Here it is…

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Phillies Minor League Workgroup List-Updated as of 3/10/2014

This morning the updated workgroup listing for the Phillies minor league camp was released:

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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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Welcome to the 2013 Clearwater Threshers

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Tonight, Baseball Ross and I had the pleasure of being introduced to the 2013 Clearwater Threshers at the party held for season ticket holders.

It was a great time and I feel fortunate to get reacquainted with a few returning players as well as meet a few new ones. I recorded a video of their introductions so that you could enjoy it.

Click HERE

I like these guys. They’re obviously talented but they also seem to have quite a bit of personality.

12 Days but not much to say.

I felt the need to just mention that there are 12 days left until pitchers and catchers report.

Last year at this time, I felt excited, full of anticipation of the upcoming season. This year…I’m mixed.

I’m looking forward to seeing my favorite guys, some of whom I feel privileged to call “friend”. Derrick Mitchell, Jesse Biddle, Adam Morgan, Austin Wright, Perci Garner, Cody Asche, Tyson Gillies, Tyler Knigge and Seth Rosin, I’m anxious to see these guys.

Other than that, I’m just flat.

I’ve been frustrated and disappointed by some of the “deals” that Ruben Amarro Jr. has made. I think the thing that has made me so angry and frustrated is that I truly believe that we have a great wealth of talent in the farm system. Some of these guys, in my opinion, could step into the holes that RAJ just “filled”. Guys who have played well and have been waiting in the wings for a shot at the big time. Instead, RAJ has brought in older, “experienced” players…or in my opinion, past their prime to take the spots.

I’ve written on this several times in the two years that I’ve had my blog. I would rather lose a couple of games due to a young guy’s “Learning Curve” rather than losing because an “experienced” player isn’t in the condition needed to make a play. I see that letting the younger player play builds for the future, helps us long term whereas the older “seasoned” player might do ok now, but they’re not going to be able to help us in the long term.

The best news I’d heard was that Cody Asche and Adam Morgan were invited to the MLB training camp. THAT gives me some hope, but knowing RAJ even these guys will be stuck in the limbo known as Lehigh Valley for years to come.

I’m sorry if I’m sounding down. I should be looking forward to the upcoming season. Instead, I feel like it’s going to be deja vu all over again…

At least I’ll get to see my friends in the upcoming days and that makes me happy. I’ll focus on that.