Here comes Billmeyer out of the pen

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Little was said or written about Mick Billmeyer during his first nine seasons as a coach working out of the bullpen for the Phillies, but this season he is moving into the dugout as the team's catching coach.

Billmeyer, 48, was once a second-round pick of the Baltimore Orioles and his professional career got off to a great start in 1985 when he hit .321 with eight home runs and 32 RBIs in rookie ball at the age of 21.

"My first at-bat was against Tommy Greene," Billmeyer said. "I hit a homer off him. It was a fastball league and I could hit fastballs."

His dreams of becoming a major-leaguer also pretty much ended that first year when he broke his back after being hit by a pitch from former big-leaguer Joe Magrane.

"I couldn't lift my legs very well after he hit me," Billmeyer said. "I played about eight or 10 more games, but I wouldn't sit down in the dugout. Every time I stood up, it was hard to throw. All of a sudden I couldn't do it any more and I was put in traction for two weeks."

Billmeyer played eight more seasons after that, but left the game at the age of 30 and was offered a coaching job by the California Angels, where he eventually became roommates with former Phillies shortstop, coach and manager Larry Bowa. Billmeyer joined the Phillies in 2000 as a minor-league roving catching instructor and was promoted to Bowa's big-league staff in 2004.

You can read more about Billmeyer and how the Phillies are the only team in baseball without a bench coach in Sunday's Inquirer.

Mather released

The Phillies made their first roster move of spring training Saturday morning by releasing utility man Joe Mather, a non-roster invitee.

Mather, 30, played in eight spring-training games and had one hit and one walk in 12 plate appearances. The former third-round pick of the St. Louis Cardinals played in a career-high 103 games with the Chicago Cubs last season, batting .209 with five home runs and 19 RBIs.