CLEARWATER, Fla. — During batting practice, it is not an uncommon sight at Bright House Field. Balls fly over the tiki bar in left field, sometimes causing damage to whatever vehicles are parked beyond the walls of the stadium.
That sort of power is rare in actual games. Then Miguel Cabrera's bat met Jonathan Papelbon's errant fastball Monday.
Moments after Cabrera swung, only a select few could see where the ball actually landed. It whacked the top of a semi-truck trailer, a nearby security guard said, and bounced to the fence that serves as the outfield wall for a practice field at the adjacent Carpenter Complex.
"Nice hitting," Charlie Manuel said. "I got to watch it. It went a long ways, over the tiki hut."
It did not amuse Papelbon, but the Phillies closer was rational about being saddled with an 81.00 ERA in Grapefruit League. Seven of the nine batters he faced reached base before he was mercifully removed at 31 pitches.
"Spring is spring, Papelbon said. "You have to do what you can do to prepare for the season. You can't just say, 'Oh it's spring training.' I don't think anyone in here, including myself, goes about it that way. Everybody comes here with a plan and approach to be ready. I'm no different than everyone else.
"For me it's repeating my delivery and throwing my pitches out in front."
He repeated it Monday with horrific results. The Phillies are fine with it happening February 25.
"Pap got a nice little ERA today," Manuel said. "But I'm not worried about Papelbon."
Papelbon said he expects to pitch in eight Grapefruit League games, his typical workload, even with the longer spring. It will be hard to match one as dreadful as Monday's.