Archive for the ‘2011 Spring Training’ Category
The roster mystery is now solved. But here’s a move you probably didn’t see coming. Just over a week after signing Luis Castillo, and in the midst of several reports saying Castillo was on the team, the Phillies released the second baseman.
Ruben Amaro Jr. addressed this today, saying “it was not an easy decision. It was something that we didn’t take lightly.” He also noted that Castillo was “extremely professional about his business,” and “well-liked in the clubhouse.”
In addition, several Phillies found out their fate for Opening Day. First, in a slightly expected move, the Phillies kept Rule 5 pickup Michael Martinez around. Charlie Manuel liked Martinez from Day 1, and said he would split second base duties with Wilson Valdez with Chase Utley out. That pretty much means that you can pencil in Valdez as the Opening Day starter at second base. Other knowns included John Mayberry Jr. Of course, with Castillo not getting the final bench spot, it was up for grabs between Pete Orr and Delwyn Young. The spot went to Orr. Young will start the season in Triple-A.
In addition, the Phillies had one bullpen spot to fill. With Brad Lidge starting the season on the DL, either David Herndon or Michael Stutes would fill the slot. That job went to Herndon. Stutes will start the season in Triple-A.
So, there you have it. The Phillies’ Opening Day roster is now set. Even with all the usual regulars back, and the unexpected and unwanted injuries, the Phillies have still managed to put a winning team on the field.
On a cold day, offense isn’t usually the strong point of any team. Call it just being tired of the lackluster play of Spring Training, but as the Spring was scheduled to end, the Phillies’ bats decided to stop working for a day. The real show doesn’t start today, it starts Friday, and that might be what the Phils were going for here.
The Pirates struck first scoring two in the second on a two-run shot by Pedro Alvarez. The Phillies got one back on an RBI groundout by Wilson Valdez in the third. The Pirates added single runs in the sixth and ninth, and would hold on for a 4-1 win.
On the mound, Cole Hamels started, and pitched three innings, allowing two runs on four hits, with no walks and three strikeouts. He was followed by Jose Contreras, who pitched a scoreless inning. Joe Blanton pitched three innings, and allowed a run on four hits, with no walks and three strikeouts. Kyle Kendrick pitched a perfect, and Juan Perez and Antonio Bastardo split the ninth. Perez allowed a run before leaving the game after being hit in the hand with a line drive.
For the Phillies’ offense, it might be best to get this lacking performance out of the way. As for the pitching, if the starters can put up numbers close to this, and the bullpen can keep shuting down opponents, then the Phillies will be just fine. The most important thing to come out of these games was the final roster, and we’ll have more on that coming up.
L: Cole Hamels
S: Jared Hughes
As Opening Day rapidly approaches, it’s decision day for the Phillies. They have to pick the final 25 soon, and among them, here are some of the possibilities, as well as news on players who are both guaranteed, and a few notes on injuries as well.
We’ll start with Brad Lidge, who was already set to hit the disabled list to start the season. His stay there will be a bit longer than originally anticipated. Lidge had an MRI Tuesday that revealed he has a strained right rotator cuff. For a pitcher, this isn’t usually good news, but it does not require surgery. With that, Lidge will simply be shut down for three weeks, and hopefully begin throwing again by then. If not, it could be a total of six weeks before Lidge even throws again.
In light of that injury, it’s obvious someone else will be closing games for the Phillies. Charlie Manuel said that at the moment, the job goes to Jose Contreras, over another possible candidate, Ryan Madson.
In addition, Manuel named Ben Francisco the starting right fielder for Opening Day, and said Francisco would have “a bona fide chance” to win the starting job full-time. The Phillies will also use John Mayberry Jr., Ross Gload and perhaps even Michael Martinez or Wilson Valdez in right field as well.
Finally, the lineup. There’s really no way to know exactly what order the Phillies will be arranged when they take the field on Friday, but the roster, and the cloudy picture that has gone with it, is certainly becoming clear. The Phillies’ regulars are almost set. There is still some question at second base. It won’t be Chase Utley, and with that, you would assume Wilson Valdez has the start. But, Luis Castillo appears to be making an impression on the Phillies, and if he sticks around, he will probably earn the start at second. That pushes Valdez to the bench, which already contains Ross Gload, Brian Schneider, and John Mayberry Jr. The last spot appears to belong to Michael Martinez, which would leave Pete Orr and Delwyn Young off the roster. In addition, the final bullpen spot, occupied originally by Lidge, is up for grabs between David Herndon and Michael Stutes. Both pitched in tonight’s exhibition game, and both blanked the Pirates. The Phillies had originally sent Stutes to minor-league camp, but have brought him to Philadelphia to see him one more time. He’s clearly left an impression on this team, and if he isn’t on the roster on Friday, then he likely will be up sometime during the season.
Finally, a crazy note for Friday. There is some speculation that a snowstorm is expected to come through Philadelphia on Thursday night into Friday morning, and could put the Phillies’ Opening Day festivities in jeopardy. At last check, the weather for Friday did call for some early morning snow or rain, and temperatures in the mid-40′s. We’ll keep you posted on the weather updates as they come in, but this would certainly be a damper on the opening of the season.
The On-Deck series doesn’t come close to what is going to take place at the ballpark in three days, but it still draws a sizable crowd. 42,588 fans came out to the Phillies’ first exhibition game of two at Citizens Bank Park, and were entertained with another Phillies’ win.
The Pirates would strike first in this one, as a Lyle Overbay double scored two in the first. The Phillies answered with the help of a Pirates’ error. Jimmy Rollins stole second, and on the errant throw, moved to third as Luis Castillo scored. In the second, the Phillies would take the lead. Ben Francisco tied it with a solo shot, and the Phillies would add two more runs on a sac fly and an error. In the fourth, the Phillies added a pair of runs on back-to-back RBI singles by Ryan Howard and Raul Ibanez. The Pirates closed the gap in the fifth, striking for three runs. Two of those came on an RBI single by Neil Walker, another on a single by Andrew McCutchen. An RBI groundout by Jimmy Rollins added a run in the sixth. An RBI groundout by Ross Gload in the eighth sealed the Phillies’ 8-5 win.
On the mound, Roy Oswalt struggled, but was good enough to get the win. He allowed five runs on five hits, and walked four, but struck out four as well. J.C. Romero followed with a scoreless inning, and worked out of a jam started by Oswalt. David Herndon pitched 1 2/3 innings, allowing a hit and a walk. Antonio Bastardo retired the last batter of the seventh. Ryan Madson fired a scoreless eighth, allowing a hit, and striking out one. Michael Stutes closed out the game with a scoreless ninth. Stutes struck out the side in the inning.
Another night, and the Phillies were able to string together the runs when needed in order to get a victory. In all reality, this is what the Phillies need to do on a daily basis. Not every game will feature the amount of runs the Phillies put on the board tonight, and not every ace will avoid their share of struggles on any given day. The fact that the offense was able to be productive, and the Phillies strong in relief as well, is encouraging for those days where an ace may struggle. The Phillies also had some very solid numbers come out of the lineup. Luis Castillo had the only multi-hit game for the Phils, going 2-for-4. Jimmy Rollins went 1-for-2, and Ben Francisco, Raul Ibanez, and Ryan Howard each made the most of their lone hit of the game, driving in a run each. Francisco belted his fifth homer of the Spring in the second. All in all, the Phillies’ lineup looks ready, and it should be interesting to see who is part of it on Friday.
Notes: In another post, we’ll have more on the injuries to Chase Utley and Brad Lidge, and how that affects the Phillies.
We’ll also review the decisions the Phillies are making on the team now, and what decisions they have to make in the next few days.
L: Ross Ohlendorf
S: Michael Stutes
Chase Utley will start the season on the DL. That was the final prognosis of all the injury talk, and daily interviews branching from his knee injury. For quite some time, the news was always bad news. Today, in Utley’s final address to the media, the news was finally good for a change.
Like I said earlier, Utley’s good news won’t help him avoid the DL. His knee simply won’t be ready, and his lack of play this Spring won’t allow him to gain the field experience needed to start the season. For starters, it would be good news to hear that Utley will even play this season. He set his goal at playing “sometime before the All-Star Break.”
Ruben Amaro Jr. also addressed the situation, and said Utley was not in consideration for the 60-day DL, because he hoped the second baseman would be playing before then.
Utley has been making progress, even though it may not seem that way. He’s still performing the normal activities of batting practice and grounders, but the workouts have increased in intensity, and more so, is an improvement over his early Spring regimen. Still, the Phillies seem to have set early to mid-May as a return time for Utley, and that’s an improvement over the season-ending surgery stories that were floating around.
For all of Utley’s problems, this is good news, and at the very least, the replacements the Phillies have are suitable. It seems like the Phillies will go with either Wilson Valdez or Luis Castillo to start at second base, and the Phillies are likely keeping Michael Martinez, another suitable option, around as well. The Phillies, luckily, are deep at second base, which helps them work around this early speed bump to success in the season.
A mid-May return would be perfect for the Phillies, who wouldn’t lose their second baseman for the whole season, and are prepared just in case mid-May turns out to be just a target. Still, with no timetable, it’s hard to predict how long this injury will last, but if the Phillies can hurdle this, they can probably hurdle anything that is thrown there way this season, and after 2010 hurled everything but the kitchen sink at them, that might as well be a walk in the park.
The Phillies’ season is really right around the corner now. With today’s win over the Astros, the Phillies are headed home, and even though they have two more games that are part of the Spring schedule, just knowing Citizens Bank Park will be open makes it feel more like the regular season. The Phillies looked like a team in the middle of the regular season, even with so many minor leaguers getting a chance. That didn’t stop the Phils’ starters from leaving their mark on this game, and perhaps giving the Astros a preview of what they can expect on Friday.
The Astros started the scoring with an RBI groundout. But, it wasn’t long before the Phillies were on the board. In the bottom of the first, Shane Victorino drove in a run with a single. Another run scored on the play resulting from an error. In the third, Raul Ibanez doubled home another Phillies’ run. In the fifth, the Phils broke it open. Victorino singled home another run, then Ben Francisco blasted a three-run shot to deep left, giving the Phillies a 7-1 lead. The Astros cut into that with runs scoring on a sac fly and Phils’ error in the seventh, but that was all they would get, as the Phils held on for a 7-6 win over the Astros.
On the mound, Nate Bump started and fired five innings of one-run ball. He allowed eight hits, a walk, and struck out one. Danys Baez walked a batter in a scoreless inning. Jose Contreras came on to face one batter, and retired him on one pitch. Derrick Loop pitched the remainder of the inning, and allowed both Houston runs. Michael Cisco pitched a scoreless eighth, and Ebelin Lugo closed out the game, but allowed three runs in the ninth.
The Phillies played like it was a mid-summer game, yet, this just rounded out the Spring. But, still, it’s impressive to see the talent the Phillies have, both at the big league level and in the system. Perhaps the best thing about today’s game was that it was the end of the Florida schedule, and the games will soon count, and with the weather that the Phillies played in, it will be good to be home.
Notes: Chase Utley updated his status this morning. We’ll have more in another post later.
Luis Castillo had another solid game, and will be joined by Michael Martinez, Delwyn Young, and Pete Orr in Philadelphia for the final stretch of their tryouts. You can refer to yesterday’s post about the roster for more on who is in the race for the final roster. Michael Stutes will also be playing in Philly, meaning he’s still in consideration for the bullpen.
L: Bud Norris
The Phillies won this afternoon against the Braves, 6-1, in their final road game of Spring Training. Tomorrow, they will play the Astros at Brighthouse Field, in their final Florida game of Spring Training. Finally, the On-Deck Series rounds out the Spring schedule. That’s right, just three games left to sort out this roster, and the 25 players that will be a part of it. Earlier in the year, I made my picks for who would be a part of that roster. Most were no-brainers, but you can’t predict injury or great Spring play, so here’s how the team should look in a few day.
Note that these players might have all been part of the roster without injury, but they will all start the season on the disabled list instead.
Chase Utley – No doubt Utley would have been at second base on Opening Day, but he didn’t play a game of Spring Training. Instead, his season starts on the DL, and could be a long-term move for the Phillies. Out indefinitely; two words you don’t want paired with another two words: All-Star or superstar.
Brad Lidge – This is not detrimental to the team’s success, mainly because it was evident Lidge had a problem, but also because there are people who can get the job done in Lidge’s absence. The reason this doesn’t apply to Utley is because the performance by the offense on any given night just can’t be predicted, and, even though pitching can’t be predicted either, the Phillies have one of the best rotations in baseball. The offense is far too unpredictable to match that of the rotation. Still, Lidge wasn’t anywhere close to game ready, and hopes to be back by mid-April, but we’ll find out more on his injury later in the week.
Domonic Brown – The young rising star broke his hand during a game during the Spring, and instantly had surgery and was removed from consideration for Opening Day. With a few names that will come up below, it’s going to be tough to find room for him at any time this season.
Here’s how I think the Opening Day starting lineup will look.
- Jimmy Rollins – The Phillies have experimented with Rollins in the three spot, but he’s a leadoff hitter at heart, and he’s played better there this Spring.
- Placido Polanco – Polanco might not be ready for Opening Day, after hurting his elbow again, but that’s just speculation. Of course, if he were to miss, then this whole lineup would be wrong. If he plays, he slides right into the two slot, just as always.
- Raul Ibanez – Ibanez brought power and an ability to get runs home and get on base to Spring, and for that, he gets a bit of a promotion to third in the order.
- Ryan Howard – Howard is your cleanup hitter, perhaps the only real power bat in the lineup. There is no argument here.
- Ben Francisco – Francisco was asked to prove himself as a starter in camp. His Spring wasn’t good enough to make him win an everyday job, but he’ll play more of right field than anyone else this season, including the Opener this week.
- Shane Victorino – Victorino hit sixth last season, and his speed will be welcome at the lower half of the lineup. However, he has to break that habit of swinging for the fences, and work on getting on base more often.
- Carlos Ruiz – Chooch won’t get moved any higher after a career year, but his presence in the lineup has always made a difference. Don’t expect to see a backup very much with this rotation, and their praise for their catcher. And his bat is pretty good too, just for the record.
- Wilson Valdez – With Utley out, Valdez takes over at second base as the starter. He was a clutch performer last season, but what about in 2011?
- Roy Halladay – Even with so many aces in the rotation, the ace of aces is still Roy Halladay. In his final tuneup today, he looked as ready as ever. Friday has the makings for one of Doc’s best.
The rest of the team starts off pretty simple. The rotation is known: Halladay is followed by Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt, Cole Hamels, and Joe Blanton. The bullpen is a bit more of a mess. Sure, the Phillies have late-game options in Jose Contreras and Ryan Madson. They have lefties J.C. Romero and Antonio Bastardo. They have long-men Kyle Kendrick and Danys Baez. Lidge’s spot is still open, and while David Herndon is likely to get it, recently cut Michael Stutes could have impressed enough to make the team even after being cut. The final pitching/bullpen slot is a two-man race, and either is suitable for the job.
As for the bench, we’ll start with some of the obvious. Ross Gload and Brian Schneider are guaranteed to be there. Schneider is the only man for the backup catcher job, and Gload was arguably the Phillies’ best hitter off the bench. With Valdez taking a starter’s slot, that left three spots open.
One almost undoubtedly goes to John Mayberry Jr. Mayberry stepped up this Spring in the middle of a strong competition for the outfield, and could be suited for right field or left field. He can fill in for Francisco or Ibanez on days off, or be that right-handed bat off the bench. He was always a question mark, but this Spring, he seemed to answer most of the questions we had left.
Next, there is a bit of a conflict. Two spots left and four players to choose from: Pete Orr, Delwyn Young, Rule 5 pick Michael Martinez, and recently acquired Luis Castillo. The two players to finish off the roster might already be known. One report from ESPN New York seemed to show that Luis Castillo was definitely making the team. His performance has been good enough lately to keep him around, but he doesn’t seem like someone who would last longer. Another is Michael Martinez, who as a Rule 5 pick, either makes the team or gets returned to Washington, the team the Phils acquired him from. Washington would almost definitely take him back. The Phillies are very pleased with Martinez’ play, and have constantly praised his work. With the way things sounded after today’s game, Martinez appears to have made it. With that coming straight from the Phillies, it seems the combination of Orr, Young, and Castillo are fighting for one roster spot.
I’d have to give it Castillo on an extended tryout. The Phillies could use the infield depth, and also might not have seen all they wanted to from Castillo just yet, but could be encouraged by what they see so far. Additionally, Orr and Young looked like they were getting closer to being sent down. Originally, I had Young making the team, but the addition of Castillo, and the emergence of Martinez and Mayberry, has made Young look more like a safe minor-league option. Both Orr and Young also have those options to the minors, making it easier to send them down and bring them up whenever the Phillies would like.
Still, despite injuries, and strong competition, the Phillies have assembled a solid final roster, and we can all look forward to seeing this team on the field on Friday. Of course, this is only a prediction, and we’ll officially know the final roster much later this week, probably after the final On-Deck game Wednesday. Still, this is the way things are shaping up, and it’s a pretty solid group the Phillies are setting out with.
This last stretch of Florida Spring games for the Phillies is the final tune-up. The starters get less action, in preparation for the regular season, and the players still competing get one last chance to prove they belong. For players like Roy Halladay, Ryan Howard, and Raul Ibanez, there is nothing left to prove. They led the Phillies today, as they cruised to an easy win over the Atlanta Braves.
The Phillies got the scoring started in the second, as Roy Halladay was able to leak a single up the middle, scoring two. Raul Ibanez added to that lead in the third with a solo shot to left. The Braves would get a run on a sac fly in the fourth, but the Phillies had a quick answer. Ryan Howard belted a two-run shot to left, and Ben Francisco added an RBI double, capping the three-run frame. That would be all the offense needed, as the Phillies rolled to a 6-1 win.
On the mound, Roy Halladay made his final appearance before getting the start in the season opener on Friday. He went three innings, and blanked the Braves, allowing just two hits, and striking out three. Michael Schwimer followed and allowed the Braves’ lone run, but worked two solid innings. B.J. Rosenberg threw two scoreless innings, Jose Contreras added a scoreless frame, and Jordan Ellis finished the job with a scoreless ninth.
The Phillies looked about as ready for the season as they could for a Spring game. Roy Halladay looked like he could have gone the distance today, and Ryan Howard and Raul Ibanez just continue to apply the power the Phils’ lineup needs. Howard, Shane Victorino, and Ben Francisco all had two hit games. Luis Castillo was held hitless (0-for-3), but reached once on a fielder’s choice and scored on Howard’s homer. Jose Contreras looked solid in relief once again, and several of the Phillies’ young arms look like they will be great additions for the future.
The Phillies wrap up their Florida schedule tomorrow against the Astros. They return home to Philadelphia to play the On-Deck series against the Pirates, before their home opener against the Astros.
L: Kenshin Kawakami
The Phillies played a pair of games today, and lost them both. We have the recaps here.
We’ll start with the Phillies’ away game in Lakeland. The Phillies took the first lead of the game on an RBI single by Brian Schneider in the fifth. A solo shot by Ryan Raburn tied it in the bottom of the fifth. In the bottom of the eighth, the Tigers took the lead on a two-run home run by Deik Scram. The Phillies couldn’t find a rally in the ninth, and fell to the Tigers, 3-1.
On the mound in that one, Ryan Feierabend fired five innings of one-run ball. He allowed two hits, two walks, and struck out one. Antonio Bastardo fired 1 2/3 innings of work, allowing two hits and a walk, and striking out two. David Herndon would allow the deciding two-run shot, allowing three hits as well.
In their home game against the Blue Jays, the Jays were in early control, scoring three runs on doubles, and another on a solo home run, making it 4-0 early. Carlos Ruiz cut into that lead with a two-run shot. Ben Francisco would cut it even closer, doubling home a run to make it a one-run game. The Jays got two back in the eighth, but the Phillies would find a rally. In the eighth, Travis Mattair singled home a pair, and Carlos Ruiz worked a bases loaded walk to tie the game. The Jays would retake the lead in the ninth on an RBI single by Callix Crabbe. The Phillies could not find a rally this time, and fell to the Jays, 7-6.
On the mound, Kyle Kendrick started and allowed three runs on five hits, with two strikeouts. Ryan Madson followed, and finished the fifth, 2/3 of an inning, allowing a run on two hits. Juan Perez and Michael Stutes each fired scoreless frames, and Jason Grilli allowed a pair of runs on three hits. Chance Chapman allowed a run in the ninth.
These split squad games are hard to analyze not because we don’t see everyone, but because there is no full lineup, and at this stage of Spring Training, many players are just getting work. Generally, minor leaguers get a shot, and few starters go anywhere close to the distance. So, with that, all we can really say is that the Phillies were swept in a split squad series. And in your daily Luis Castillo update, he went 2-for-4 against the Jays, and walked, but also committed an error in the field.
L: David Herndon
S: Chance Ruffin
L: Chance Chapman
S: Winston Abreu
There was quite a bit happening around Phillies’ camp over the past few days, and we’re just going to throw all of this together now. Here’s the happenings of Clearwater.
- Roy Halladay has given credit to his catcher for everything he’s done as a Phillie since Day 1. So, when Halladay was unanimously named the Cy Young Award winner last season, he had to recognize his catcher in some way. Halladay gave Carlos Ruiz an exact replica of his Cy Young Award.
- The Phillies optioned Scott Mathieson and Mike Zagurski to minor-league camp, nearly completing the Phillies’ final bullpen. With Brad Lidge out to start the season, David Herndon fills the spot, and joins Ryan Madson, J.C. Romero, Jose Contreras, Kyle Kendrick, Antonio Bastardo, and Danys Baez.
- Recently, a name floating around the trading block is the Nationals’ Nyjer Morgan. Morgan is a speedy centerfielder, who could serve as a leadoff hitter anywhere, but feels he doesn’t fit with the Nationals anymore. A few teams are in on the centerfielder, and the Phillies could be one of them. Don’t weigh too much into this. First off, Morgan doesn’t have a good track record. He was suspended three times last season, one for throwing a baseball into the stands at Citizens Bank Park and injuring a fan. That will go over real well with Phillies’ fans. His actions against the Florida Marlins in an early-September series ultimately ended his 2010 season, so he might not be a fit for the Phillies at all. All I’m saying here is that his name is out there, and the Phillies have been rumored to be involved.
- Today would have been Harry Kalas’ 75th birthday. And, while we’re talking Harry the K, the statue in his honor is complete. The funding is not complete, and a benefit will be held on March 31st to raise money for the statue’s funding. The statue could be unveiled on a special day during the 2011 season. As always, information on how you can make a donation can be found at the links in Harry Kalas Statue tabs on the site.