After a cool start to spring training the weather finally cooperated. The morning sun lit up the Carpenter Complex and Bright House Field. The temperature headed toward 70 degrees as the noon hour approached. After signing his contract early this morning A.J. Burnett was signing autographs over at the Complex signaling that the Phillies are serious about competing in the N.L. East and the ball was flying out of Bright House as Jimmy Rollins and Bobby Abreu reported to camp and took batting practice for the first time. The gang is all here even if it does seem like it is back to the future.
The future, present and past were on display this morning. G.M. Ruben Amaro was closely watching Ken Giles throwing heat to Cameron Rupp in a bullpen session over at what is called “seven mounds” between Schmidt and Roberts Fields. In batting practice at Bright House, Ryan Howard was hitting the ball flat footed, not trying to hit it out. Of course Jimmy Rollins could not resist hitting one into the seats in front of the Tiki Bar in left. And yes it was Bobby Abreu who took one deep too in BP. After BP wrapped up we saw Cody Asche and Kevin Fransden taking hard shots off the bat of infield coach Chris Truby’s bat while Maikel Franco was standing attentively nearby awaiting his turn at the hot corner over at the half field.
Not all the news has been good this week. Earlier in the week we learned of reports that Cole Hamels has shoulder tendinitis and has been shut down for a couple of days. He is now expected to miss his first two starts of the season. Another pitcher expected to compete for a starting spot, Miguel Gonzalez, has been unimpressive so far in his live Bullpen throwing according to no less authority than his catcher Carlos Ruiz. And today we were told that a starter from last season, Jonathan Pettibone, has been shutdown with a sore pitching shoulder.
As starting pitchers are dropping left and right, what I am awaiting is the Phillies annual intra squad game on Tuesday February 25th at high noon in Bright House. Gates open at 11:00 a.m. and it is free admission. The game showcases the entire range of players in the major league camp. It provides an excellent opportunity to see the depth of the Phillies team for the 2014 season. So come on down! The Grapefruit League action then starts the next day on Wednesday the 26th against the Blue Jays at Bright House.
I am particularly interested to see the young players in action in major league spring training games for the first time such as starting pitchers Jesse Biddle and David Buchanan, swing man Mario Holland, closer Ken Giles, corner infielder Maikel Franco and right fielder Kelly Dugan. Unfortunately, one player will not be making his spring debut. Center fielder Aaron Altherr was seen today with his windbreaker on and a bandaged right wrist in left field. When Altherr retrived balls in the outfield during BP at Bright House this morning, he took off his glove and threw them back with his left hand or gave them to another player to throw them back to the ball stand.
Below are several of Baseball Betsy’s photos from four venues at this morning’s workouts.
She was every where this morning!
Ken Giles continues to impress the Phillies brass with his overpowering stuff in his bullpen at Seven Mounds. Look for Ken to come out of the pen with his 100 mph fastball in an early spring game.
Jesse Biddle stands out with his sharp old school look as the pitchers loosen up in left field on Ashburn Field. Look for Jesse to get a starting nod in one of the early spring training games.
Cody Asche looks like the opening day third baseman for the Phillies as he works out at third base on the half field in front of the entrance to Bright House Field
Maikel Franco will start the season either with Reading or Lehigh Valley at one of the corner infield positions as he launched several long balls in BP at Bright House.