A baseball General Manager has a lot on his mind this time of year such as trying to get his major league team started on the winning road, signing recent draft picks, getting them assigned to short season teams, lining up the rehab assignments for injured players etc. Phillies General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr. took a night off from all those challenges to watch the Clearwater Threshers defeat the Dunedin Blue Jay 7-2 at Dunedin Stadium Monday night.
The players at any minor league level always seem to have an little extra jump when the boss is in the stands and tonight was no exception. Starter Percy Garner grew stronger as the game went on retiring 12 of the last 13 batters he faced in winning his third game of the season. He went six innings but his velocity started out in the high 80’s in the early innings and he finished hitting the low 90’s with his fastball when he left after six innings. His command which he struggled with early was spot on in the later innings. Hector Neri came on in the set up role for two innings and Tyler Knigge with his 95 mph fastball ended the game in the ninth as he retired the side in order striking out two of the three batters he faced.
At the plate catcher Cameron Rupp drove a 400 ft home run over the center field wall to lead off the sixth inning. Short stop Edgar Duran lined a pitch off the right field wall for a bases loaded triple with two out in the seventh and D’Arby Myers lashed a double down the left field line to drive in two runs with two outs in the eight inning to account for the Threshers scoring.
All in all a nice performance tonight for Clearwater even though the Blue Jays have already clinch the first half Northern Division Championship over the second place Threshers in the Florida State League. Perhaps Ruben was most pleased by a fielding play by third baseman Cody Asche to end the game as he ranged far to his left in the shortstop hole to pick up a slow grounder and throw out the runner at first to end the game. The Phillies General Manager has to be looking at some point for a third baseman of the future who can field the ball after the struggles over the weekend in the Baltimore series when Ty Wigginton struggled defensively as a replacement for the injured Placido Polanco at the hot corner.
This week is a hectic time in Clearwater. The Phillies minor league department is busy finalizing the rosters of the Williamsport Crosscutters and the Gulf Coast Phillies who start their seasons this up coming Monday, the 18th. Tuesday starts a final week of extended spring training games with the Yankees and Blue Jays coming to the Complex. The newest members of the Phillies organization just drafted last week are making their way into the Carpenter Complex for workouts and assignments. Also it was just announced that Chase Utley will be making his rehab assignment debut Tuesday night as the designated hitter for the Threshers as they take on the Tampa Yankees at Bright House.
Yes, General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr. has a full plate in front of him this week but he had a nice rewarding Monday evening watching the Threshers play hard and come up big in winning against the Dunedin Blue Jays. For Ruben the fun is just beginning as he must also keep an eye on the major league scoreboard this week to seen if the Phillies can get a winning streak going against the Minnesota Twins and get back into the National League East race. That might be his biggest challenge of all.