CLEARWATER, Fla. — Ryan Howard shagged fly balls during batting practice Monday morning when Jamie Moyer and Matt Stairs appeared. The three men, teammates in 2008 when the Phillies won the World Series, embraced.
"Jamie!" Howard yelled. Stairs hugged Howard. They laughed about the whole thing, how Moyer and Stairs are rookie broadcasters as Howard looks to recapture his greatness.
Moyer and Stairs are not Phillies employees; Comcast SportsNet hired them earlier this month under the guidelines of the network's new contract with the team. Former teammates and friends reside in the Phillies clubhouse, but both assured that no one is immune from on-air criticism.
"I was an honest person," Stairs said. "If someone didn't play the game right, you called them out in the locker room. I'm not going to embarrass a guy on the air; but that's what Philly wants to hear, they want to hear the truth. They want to hear whats going on and our opinion of the game."
Moyer and Stairs will team with Tom McCarthy in their debut Wednesday when the Phillies open their Grapefruit League schedule against Toronto. Moyer will work 109 games, including spring training, and Stairs 108.
They will form a three-man booth for 30 games and rotate for the remainder of the schedule. "I go to Cincinnati because of Broxton," said Stairs, referencing the relief pitcher who allowed his indelible pinch-hit home run in Game 4 of the 2008 National League championship series.
"Am I going to pick up on everything? Of course I'm not," Moyer said. "But I'm there to watch the game, to enjoy the game, to try to expand on what happened. Like, 'He could have been thinking this.' Or, 'Why did he throw this pitch when there wasn't anyone up in the bullpen.' That type of thing. It's really an opinion, that's all. An opinion."
Moyer said he signed a two-year contract with Comcast, but cannot yet envision a long career in broadcasting.
"There's going to be places where I'm going to stumble, but that's the fun of it," Moyer said. "Showing the human side, I think is the important thing here in just being ourselves."
"I agree," Stairs said. "Tom leads you into a great conversation. It's easy to feed off him. This is our spring training as well. We've never done what we're going to be doing."
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