CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Mike Schmidt always comes to spring training armed with some strong opinions, but the Hall of Fame third baseman did not want to get overly involved in talk about baseball's steroid era, which took center stage last month when the Baseball Writers Association of America did not vote to induct any of the players on the Hall of Fame ballot.
“I sort of ride the fence on that whole steroid-era issue,” Schmidt said. “I don’t have a definite opinion like some of my fellow Hall of Famers. Some of the guys were very, very adamant about a person being associated with steroids: ‘They’ll never be in the Hall of Fame. If they are, I’ll never come back.’ I’ve heard that from some of my fellow members and I think that’s absolutely ridiculous.”
Schmidt, in camp until March 20 as a special instructor, said he is concerned about players like Mike Piazza and Craig Biggio being “lumped in with guys who have a stronger relationship with the PED issue.”
“If a guy played and had great numbers in his generation, ask yourself if he was involved,” Schmidt said. “It’s just too bad. I think time will cure that. I really do think Biggio and Piazza will eventually become Hall of Famers.
“The guys who failed tests or the facts show or they admitted they were involved with PED use, that’s one thing. But to assume a guy did because his teammate did or he has a big neck or a big head or there was a spike in his numbers, to assume that is not right.”
Schmidt also had some interesting opinions about new third baseman Michael Young and his relationship some early conversations he has had with first baseman Ryan Howard.
- On Young: “Michael Young could retire tomorrow and he would be a strong candidate for the Hall of Fame. He’s probably two Michael Young years away from being a first ballot Hall of Famer. I don’t know what his career hitting numbers are, but he’s a little like Derek Jeter, is he not? If he played in New York, imagine what people would be saying about Michael Young’s career? Somebody would have mentioned the Hall of Fame a long time ago.”
- On Howard: “I’ve got to tell you right out of the chute, Ryan Howard to me is very interested in my input about his hitting. That makes me really feel good. We’ve chatted over the years about hitting. I’ve always been a Ryan Howard fan, but he’s picking my brain a little bit more. He looks good. He’s doing some of the things we talk about. It’s not going in one ear and out the other. He’s taking it all in. I’m only in my second day here and I’m really excited. I feel like I’ve made more strides in my temporary coaching role than I ever had to this point. Of course we’ll see in a couple weeks how it all works out as they get game at-bats.”
- On how he’s trying to help Howard, who batted .173 against lefties last season: “I guess what we’re kind of working on is a mindset that may allow him to become a little stronger in those at-bats (against tough lefties). A little more contact. He’s still going to strikeout. I’m in the top 10 all time in strikeouts so I’m pretty comfortable with striking out. But I think he needs to and we were talking about ways where we might get him to be a little less strikeout prone … when you get that nasty left-hander to get him out.”
Extra bases. The Phillies will play a five-inning intrasquad game Friday before opening their Grapefruit League schedule against the Houston Astros Saturday at Bright House Field. Cole Hamels will start for the Phillies and former Phillies minor-leaguer Jarred Cosart is expected to be among the pitchers for Houston. … Outfielder Laynce Nix has a bone spur in his right foot, but he is not expected to miss any time because of it.