Blaine Neal grew up a Phillies fan in South Jersey, where he was a star at Bishop Eustace Prep. He now has a chance to play in the Phillies' organization.
Phil Anastasia caught up with Neal, who signed a minor-league contract with the Phillies and is a non-roster invitee to camp this spring. Like Philadelphia native and non-roster invitee Mike Koplove, Neal is expected to open the season in triple-A Lehigh Valley as a relief pitcher. But if he has a good spring and pitches well for the IronPigs he could see time with the Phillies in 2009.
"It's a good situation for me in a lot of ways," said Neal, who has pitched in the big leagues with Florida, San Diego, Boston and Colorado.
One of them being this is the team he grew up cheering. And he cheered when the Phillies won the World Series.
"I waited 25 years just like everybody else," he said. "I was like 4 or 5 when the Sixers won it [in 1983] and I don't really remember that. I was like every other fan when the Phillies finally won it. I couldn't believe it."