Here’s the wrap from a day of Phillies baseball (I would have blogged sooner, but someone locked the door to the men’s room in Dunedin Stadium after the game ended, so I had to drive back to my hotel in Clearwater before writing. Too much information?):
Anyway, the Phils played two games today, an “A” game against the Blue Jays in Dunedin, which I attended, and a “B” game in Clearwater, against still more Blue Jays, which Jim Salisbury attended. Got that? As I mentioned in earlier posts, the Dunedin game featured another look at fifth starter candidates J.A. Happ and Carlos Carrasco.
Happ allowed a two-run homer on a 1-2 pitch to Adam Lind in the first before settling in to pitch 2 2/3 scoreless innings. He said later that he was mostly focusing on his cutter and changeup, and generally felt good about the pitches (the homer was on a fastball that Happ left over the plate). He does not have a good feel for his curveball right now, so he threw only about five or six of them. “I can’t find it,” he said of the curve. “So today I worked on my fastball and changeup.”
Carrasco, with refreshing candor, offered an admission you don’t often hear from baseball players: that he was distracted by Eric Bruntlett’s three-base error in the fifth inning. Bruntlett dropped a fly ball with one out and none on, after Carrasco had retired his first four batters, and the inning exploded from there. A double, a walk, home run, and on and on….in just a few minutes, five runs scored. “I lost my focus,” Carrasco said. Charlie Manuel noted that he was glad to see that after Carrasco lost his composure, the young righty was able to regain it and pitch a perfect sixth.
Also in Dunedin, Ryan Howard and LF Jeremy Slaydon homered, and RF John Mayberry drove in two runs. Mayberry, a righthanded hitter trying to make a lefty-heavy team, is batting .353 in four games. One of you asked in the comments if the five home runs in the game came as a result of Florida winds—good question, and yeah, pretty much. It was a chilly, windy day, and the ball seemed to be really carrying, for what that’s worth.
Over at the B game, Jayson Werth played for the first time this spring and went 0-for-2. Werth strained his right shoulder Friday, so that fact that he played was good news, right? Well, maybe. Werth struck out looking twice, and said later that he did not plan to swing, and just wanted to see live pitching. That was a new one on me, at least. This wasn't a simulated game, it was an exhibition. Manuel said that he’s not sure if Werth will play in the team’s next game, on Wednesday. So keep an eye on that one.
I spent some time this morning with Anthony Hewitt, the first-round pick from last year who endured a difficult first year in pro ball. Hewitt batted .197 for Clearwater of the Gulf Coast League last year. He struck out 55 times in 117 at-bats, and made 7 errors in 33 games at third base, a new position for him (he played shortstop at Salisbury High school in Connecticut).
Despite Hewitt's rough start, the organization still holds him in high regard. Ruben Amaro and one of his top scouting guys, Chuck Lamar, remain effusive in their praise for Hewitt’s skills, potential and personality. Hewitt is only 19, a very hard worker earnestly trying to improve. He has spent a lot of time this spring talking infield skills and strategies with Jimmy Rollins, whose locker is nearby. I did a story on Hewitt after he was drafted (he is originally from Brooklyn, just a few blocks from where I lived until last week), and, in reporting that piece, asked Rollins what it would take to switch from short to third. Jimmy’s face lit up as he broke down the differences in angles and footwork; the guy loves to talk about stuff like that, which can only be good for Hewitt. Lamar said that Hewitt was moved to third because he has the power to hit like a corner infielder. Much more on this in tomorrow’s paper.
Tomorrow is a rare off day for the players, and Cole Hamels pitches Wednesday. Have a good night.