Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Lidge Looks Sharp, More Injury Notes


This afternoon, Phillies pitcher Brad Lidge appeared in an extended spring training game in Tampa against the Yankees club, as he rehabs his strained right rotator cuff. The former All-star reliever has been on the disabled list since spring training and has not appeared in a Major League game this year.

The 34-year-old right-hander made his extended spring debut with the Phillies club on Saturday, throwing 24 pitches, while allowing a hit and striking out one batter.

On Tuesday, Lidge recorded 5 outs in the same inning, as the rules in extended spring games can be altered a bit in order to accommodate the likes of rehabbing players. After walking the lead-off batter on 4 pitches, Lidge settled in, striking out the next 2 batters, forcing a pop up, striking out another and then wrapping up his game action with a fly out.

Following his efforts in his outing on Tuesday, Lidge told a source that he feels he'll be ready to pitch again after 2 days and that his next rehab appearance should be with the High A level Clearwater Threshers.

The expectation, at the point, is to have Lidge back with the big league club before the end of June. His velocity in the extended spring games has maxed out around 87 MPH, which is below his typical fastball velocity of 90-91 MPH that he reached toward the end of last season as well as shy of the 94 MPH he typically threw in his perfect 2008 season as the Phils' closer.


Also seeing action for the second time in Tuesday's extended spring training game was injured minor league outfielder Tyson Gillies. The 22-year-old Canadian was acquired in December 2009 from Seattle as part of the trio of players that came to Philadelphia in exchange for pitching ace Cliff Lee.

Assigned to the Double A Reading Phillies roster but on the disabled list all season with a left hamstring strain, Gillies missed time last season with the same ailment.

In the contest, Gillies showed some range by tracking down two fly balls on defense in centerfield and legged out two infield singles. Team manager Mickey Morandini removed Gillies in favor of a pinch runner after the second hit when Gillies stepped on the first baseman's foot, turning his own ankle somewhat. Gillies iced the ankle, walked without a limp and told a source he felt fine after his day was over.

In other minor league injury rehab news, Shane Victorino is set to begin a 2-game stint with Reading this evening. Initially, the switch-hitting Victorino was slated to play 3 games with the R-Phils, but he will now not play on Thursday, as was expected, and instead take a day of rest prior to being activated to the MLB Phillies roster on Friday.

Victorino went 1-for-6 in 2 rehab games over the weekend with the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws.

And one last bit of information on an injured Phillies player...Australian born righty hurler Drew Naylor (12-10, 4.63 ERA last season with Reading) celebrated his 25th birthday on Tuesday by undergoing Tommy John Surgery. Naylor began the season on the disabled list for the Triple A Lehigh Valley IronPigs.
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Photos- Joe Wombough

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Monday, May 30, 2011

BlueClaws Manager Chris Truby Interview, May 2011

The Phillies Class A affiliate, the Lakewood BlueClaws, have had some noteworthy success lately. The club has won 11 of their last 12 games and their starting pitchers are on a hot streak of not allowing any earned runs in their past 4 outings (a stretch of 28 innings).

Two standout stars in the 'Claws' pitching rotation have emerged. Righties David Buchanan (7th round, 2010) and Garett Claypool (11th round, 2010) rank 1st and 2nd in the South Atlantic League in ERA with marks of 1.97 and 2.00 respectively.

Two forces on the offensive side during the team's current hot streak have proven to be 25-year-old first baseman Jim Murphy, who has a SAL leading 13 homeruns on the season to go along with 37 RBI in 49 games played, and former top Phils draft pick 22-year-old OF/DH Anthony Hewitt, who has posted a .317 batting average in his last 10 games and has smashed all 6 of his homers this season in May.

On the current homestand, I spoke with Lakewood manager, and former Major Leaguer, Chris Truby about some of the team's exceptional performers, a visit from rehabbing Phillies centerfielder Shane Victorino and more. Check out the media player below to listen to the full interview.


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Series Preview: Phillies at Nationals, 5/30-6/1

The Phillies (33-20) hope to continue a 5-game winning streak in games against the Nationals (22-30), as they head to Washington to begin a 3-game series on Memorial Day, Monday.

In the series opener, Philadelphia will send right-handed ace Roy Halladay, who is nearly unstoppable against Washington, to the mound. The Nationals will counter with righty veteran Livan Hernandez, who has split two decisions against the Phillies this year.

Read ahead for loads of details on the pitching match ups and other key information on this series.


Monday, 1:05PM. Roy Halladay (6-3, 2.35 ERA) vs. Livan Hernandez (3-6, 3.71 ERA). In 14 career games against the Nationals, Halladay is 10-1 with a 2.01 ERA. In his last 7 starts, Halladay is 4-2 with a 2.10 ERA. In 3 starts at Nationals Park, Halladay is 3-0 with a 1.08 ERA and a .167 batting average against. In 5 home starts this season, Hernandez has a 3-2 record with a 1.80 ERA. In 29 career starts against Philadelphia, Hernandez is 12-11 with a 3.59 ERA. Chase Utley is 12-for-32 (.375 avg) in his career against Hernandez.

Tuesday, 7:05PM. Cliff Lee (4-4, 3.50 ERA) vs. Jason Marquis (5-2, 4.26 ERA). In his last 6 starts, Lee is 2-2 with a 2.97 ERA. In 5 road starts this season, Lee has a 1-3 record with a 4.55 ERA. In 3 career starts against Washington, Lee is 3-0 with a 1.44 ERA. Jayson Werth is 1-for-7 (.143 avg) in his career against Cliff Lee. In 25 career games against the Phillies, Marquis has a 5-8 record with a 5.61 ERA. In 3 home starts this year, Marquis is 3-0 with a 1.59 ERA. Raul Ibanez is 7-for-19 (.368 avg) with 2 doubles and 2 HR in his career against Marquis.

Wednesday, 1:05PM. Roy Oswalt (3-2, 2.60 ERA) vs. John Lannan (2-5, 4.40 ERA). Oswalt has a 5-3 record with a 3.10 ERA in 17 career games against Washington. In 4 career starts at Nationals Park, Oswalt is 0-1 with a 4.24 ERA. In 13 career starts against the Phillies, Lannan has a 0-10 record with a 6.44 ERA. In 5 home starts this year, Lannan is 1-2 with a 1.99 ERA. Right-handed batters are hitting .305 against the lefty Lannan in 2011.


Chase Utley, in 111 career games against the Nationals, has a .300 average with 17 homeruns and 77 RBI. In 22 games at Nationals Park, Utley is a .341 hitter with a 1.046 OPS.

Carlos Ruiz is a career .300 hitter in 60 games against Washington. Ruiz is batting .214 against left-handed pitchers this season.

Domonic Brown is batting .320 in 8 games since being recalled from the minors earlier this month. Brown went 5-for-7 (.714 avg) in the 3-game series against the Mets over the weekend.

Jerry Hairston Jr. is a combined 7-for-54 (.130 avg) against the Phillies' scheduled three starting pitchers for this series. Hairston has been suspended for one game after making contact with an umpire during an argument on Friday.

Right-handed closer Drew Storen has allowed earned runs in each of his last three appearances. In 5 career appearances against the Phillies, Storen has allowed 4 earned runs in 4 innings pitched (9.00 ERA).

In 22 home games this season, Jayson Werth has posted a .288 batting average, while hitting 2 HR and driving in 4 runs. Werth is batting .195 against lefty pitchers this season.

Phillies team batting average- .251

Nationals team batting average- .229

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Sunday, May 29, 2011

Podsednik Hitless in Phillies System Debut


Scott Podsednik, who signed with the Phillies last weekend after being granted his release by the Toronto Blue Jays, made his official Phillies system debut on Saturday. Podsednik batted lead-off for the Phillies Triple A team, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs and went 0-for-4 with 2 strike outs in the contest against the Rochester Redwings (Twins).

The 35-year-old Podsednik is a veteran of parts of ten Major League seasons. Formerly an all-star with the Chicago White Sox and a member of the Brewers, Royals, Rockies, Dodgers and Mariners, Podsednik had signed as a free agent with the Blue Jays back in February.

After missing time this season with plantar fasciitis in his left foot, Podsednik played in 3 games with the Class A Dunedin Blue Jays, then played in 14 games with the Triple A Las Vegas 51's. Combined at the two levels of, Podsednik went 18-for-71 (.254 avg) with 2 doubles, 2 triples and 13 runs scored.

Podsednik had started his Phillies tenure down in Clearwater, FL at extended spring training on Thursday, reportedly going hitless in his debut there as well.


The addition of the experienced Podsednik adds depth to the outfield for a Phillies team that has struggled offensively and has been subjected to several key injuries this season.

The Phillies feel Podsednik still has something left to offer. Last season in 137 Major League games, the lefty hitting Podsednik batted .297 with 6 HR, 51 RBI and 35 stolen bases.

For now, Podsednik will get the opportunity to display his talents with Lehigh Valley and it will be up to him to earn a promotion to the big show.

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Photos- Joe Wombough

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Victorino Has Successful Rehab Outing

LAKEWOOD, NJ- Phillies centerfielder Shane Victorino looked good in his first rehab appearance with the club's single A affiliate the Lakewood BlueClaws on Saturday night. Victorino has been on the disabled list since May 19th with a strained right hamstring.

As the two-time defending South Atlantic League champions piled on early runs against the Greensboro Grasshoppers (Marlins affiliate), Victorino saw plate appearances in each of the game's first three innings.

Leading off in the top of the first inning, Victorino lined out to right field. In the midst of a 2nd inning rally, the man known as "the Flyin' Hawaiian" worked the count full and then walked with the bases loaded to force home a run and put the BlueClaws up 4-0. He later scored on a throwing error by Greensboro shortstop Daniel Black.

Batting with 2 outs in the third inning, and the 'Claws already leading 8-1, Victorino laced a fastball from 24-year-old righty hurler Kyle Winters into right field and drove in catcher Cameron Rupp to boost the Lakewood lead to 9-1.

Victorino played 5 full innings in the field and was on deck when the BlueClaws made their third out in the bottom of the 5th inning.

Overall on the night, the 30-year-old Victorino went 1-for-2 with a walk, a run scored and 2 RBI.

"It felt great to get those three at bats. First at bat, I kind of felt like, 'Where was I?' I kind of felt like (the pitcher) was throwing a little harder than it was. But, after that and adjusting myself, and getting adjusted to seeing pitches- that's what it's about right now...seeing pitches and getting my timing back and feeling good," Victorino said.

Victorino is patient and expects that he'll need a full allotment of rehab appearances to iron out the injury and get himself back to 100 percent.

"Everything went accordingly. You know, it is day one and there is almost a week left to get (my hamstring) healthy, so we're gonna take our time," said Victorino.

"I want to take as many games as I can," he added. "I mean, obviously, I want to get at bats. That's the main thing...getting at bats and feeling good."

With multiple teammates having missed time with injuries, the three-time Gold Glove Award winner expressed his eagerness for the big league club to potentially have its regular lineup together for the first time this season, once he makes his return from the disabled list.

"It's gonna be a very exciting time, I think. These guys are doing a good job right now, with guys missing. Having (33) wins and having the best record in baseball right now says a lot about our team...a lot of credit goes to our pitching staff.

"You know what, getting all of us back healthy, Charlie's gonna be able to put one lineup out there every night and let us go out there and run with it. It's a step in the right direction," Victorino stated.

Victorino feels that he will need as much rehab action as he can get before the Phillies can activate him for next weekend's series in Pittsburgh.

The plan for Victorino has him in action with Lakewood again on Sunday evening, playing seven innings. He is then slated to play with Double A Reading Tuesday through Thursday, prior to being activated to the Phillies' roster on Friday, barring any setbacks.

In the game at FirstEnergy Park on Saturday, righty starter David Buchanan (7th round draft pick, 2010) tossed 7 innings of 4-hit ball to earn his 7th win and lower his South Atlanic League leading ERA to 1.97.

The BlueClaws will begin a series, hosting the Delmarva Shorebirds on Sunday night at 7:05 PM.

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Friday, May 27, 2011

Series Preview: Phillies at Metropolitans, 5/27-5/29

The financially strapped New York Metropolitans (23-26) will play host this weekend as the first place Phillies (31-19) come to town for a 3-game series.

In the opener, the Phillies will send veteran right-hander Roy Oswalt, who has a 1.50 ERA in 2 starts since returning from the disabled list, to the mound. The Metropolitans will counter with lefty Chris Capuano, who served up 4 homeruns in 5 1/3 innings against the Yankees last weekend.

Philadelphia has won 4 of the 6 meetings with New York this season.

Read ahead for details on the pitching match ups and other key stats for this series.


Friday, 7:10PM. Roy Oswalt (3-2, 2.77 ERA) vs. Chris Capuano (3-5, 5.36 ERA). In 14 career starts against the Metropolitans, Oswalt has a 6-5 record with a 3.33 ERA. In 4 road games this season, Oswalt is 2-1 with a 3.15 ERA. Carlos Beltran is 9-for-24 (.375 avg) with 2 doubles and a HR in his career against Oswalt. In 5 career games against the Phillies, Capuano is 0-2 with a 3.20 ERA. In 4 home starts this season, Capuano is 2-2 with a 5.04 ERA. In 10 starts this season, opponents have posted a .294 batting average against Capuano.

Saturday, 7:10PM. Cole Hamels (6-2, 3.06 ERA) vs. Mike Pelfrey (3-4, 5.37 ERA). In 14 career starts against the Metropolitans, Hamels has a 2-9 record with a 4.35 ERA. In 4 starts at Citi Field, Hamels is 0-3 with a 4.07 ERA and a .347 batting average against. Scott Hairston is 6-for-17 (.353 avg) with 2 doubles and 3 HR against Hamels in his career. In 15 career starts against the Phillies, Pelfrey has a 6-5 record with a 5.25 ERA. In his last 5 starts, the righty Pelfrey is 2-2 with a 3.98 ERA. Ryan Howard is 14-for-34 (.412 avg) with 2 doubles, 3 HR and 5 walks against Pelfrey.

Sunday, 1:10PM. Vance Worley (2-0, 2.14 ERA) vs. Jonathan Niese (3-5, 4.33 ERA). Worley held the Metropolitans scoreless for 6 innings when he faced them on April 29th. In 10 MLB appearances, opponents are batting .190 against Worley. Niese is 1-3 with a 3.73 ERA in 5 career starts against Philadelphia. In 25 career starts at Citi Field, Niese has a 6-9 record with a 4.23 ERA. Howard is 1-for-10 against the left-handed Niese in his career.


Placido Polanco is 11-for-27 (.407 avg) against the Metropolitans in 6 games this season.

Last season, Carlos Ruiz went 7-for-22 (.318 avg) at Citi Field. However, Ruiz is just 1-for-22 (.045 avg) in non-2010 games at the Metropolitans' current home.

Chase Utley's 26 homeruns against the Metropolitans are his most against any team.

In 16 games against the Phillies, Francisco Rodriguez has 10 saves and has never allowed a run.

Carlos Beltran is batting .342 in 22 home games this season. Beltran is 8-for-20 (.400 avg) with 4 HR in his career against Ryan Madson.

Jason Bay, who is batting .230 overall this season, has posted a .308 batting average in 11 home games.

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Photo- AP

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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Interview with Pitching Prospect Tyler Knigge

Right-handed reliever Tyler Knigge is having some solid success thus far in 2011 with the Class A Lakewood BlueClaws. In 14 games for the two-time defending South Atlantic League champions, Knigge has posted a 1-1 record with 2 saves, a 3.20 ERA and 19 strike outs in 19 2/3 innings.

A 12th round pick by the Phillies in last year's amateur draft, Knigge made his professional debut as a member of the Gulf Coast League Phillies and later earned a bump up to the New York-Penn League's Williamsport Crosscutters. In 11 combined games at those two levels, Knigge posted a 0-4 record with a 5.28 ERA.

The 22-year-old stands 6 feet 4 inches tall and weighs around 220 pounds.

I had the opportunity to speak with Tyler recently about his draft process, his pitch repertoire, his family and plenty more. Check out the media player below to listen to the full interview.




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One For the Books

It was a remarkable game to say the least. It was clearly a contest that players, fans and media alike will be talking about with fondness for years to come...

"Remember how Rollins kept making all those great plays on defense?"

"Remember how terrific Baez was in out of the 'pen?"

"Oh man...and how about Valdez PITCHING?!"


The list of facts and stats pertaining to this game goes on and on...

Wilson Valdez (who notched 3 hits and a walk) is the first MLB position player to win a game since Brent Mayne did it in 2000 for the Rockies.

Also, Valdez is the first MLB player to start the game at a position other than pitcher and earn the win since Babe Ruth did it in 1921.

It was the longest game in the history of Citizens Bank Park.

It was the Phils' longest game since they played 20 innings in 1993.

Charlie Manuel was previously on record saying that he would not use a position player to pitch.

Phillies relievers threw 12 innings.

Starting catcher Carlos Ruiz manned third base.


Here is a link to the box score.

Manager Charlie Manuel was in a chipper mood and spoke with the media after the game. Audio of that press conference can be heard in the media player below.


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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Romero Comments on Bastardo's Progress

Ask anyone that knows a little something about the Phillies and they'll likely agree that the premiere left-hander out of the team's bullpen has become Antonio Bastardo. In recent years that title could have gone to JC Romero, but not any longer.

As the 25-year-old Bastardo has matured, he has developed into a go-to guy on the Phillies pitching staff. As Romero, who turns 35-years-old at the end of next week, has aged, he has lost velocity and his ability to dominate opposing batters.

Romero held opponents to a .191 batting average in his first 4 seasons with the Phillies, from 2007-2010. This year, things are much different as Romero has served up a .283 batting average against in 17 appearances.

Prior to the 2011 season, Bastardo had held opponents to a .264 batting average in 31 Major League games over 2 seasons. But in 17 games this year, batters have posted a significantly lower .145 average against the Dominican Republic native.

When Romero stopped through Lakewood a couple weeks back, prior to being activated from the disabled list, I asked him for his thoughts on Bastardo's progress. Check out the media player below to hear exclusive audio of what JC had to say about that as well as other topics.


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Monday, May 23, 2011

Series Preview: Reds at Phillies, 5/23-5/26

The biggest news pertaining to the upcoming Reds vs. Phillies series is the return of Chase Utley. The 32-year-old all-star second baseman will make his 2011 season debut after being activated from the disabled list.

Utley has missed time with tendinitis and chondromalacia of his right knee. He has been playing in games with the Phillies extended spring training club and their High A Level team in Clearwater in recent weeks, as part of a rehab assignment.

A secondary storyline of importance is the rematch of last year's Divisional Playoffs, when Philadelphia swept Cincinnati out of the postseason in 3 games. Roy Halladay tossed the second ever postseason no-hitter in game 1 of that series at Citizens Bank Park.

In the opener for this series, the Phillies will send lefty Cole Hamels, who shut out the Reds to force their exit from the 2010 playoffs, to the mound. Cincinnati will counter with right-hander Bronson Arroyo, who hasn't had much success against Philadelphia in his career.



Read ahead for much more information on the pitching match ups and other stats for this 4-game series.


Monday, 7:05PM. Bronson Arroyo (3-4, 4.11 ERA) vs. Cole Hamels (5-2, 2.92 ERA). In 8 career games against the Phillies, Arroyo is 1-5 with a 5.54 ERA. In 3 road starts this season, Arroyo is 2-0 with a 0.92 ERA. Placido Polanco is 6-for-17 (.353 avg) in his career against Arroyo. In 5 home starts this year, Hamels has a 2-2 record and a 3.48 ERA. In 7 career regular season starts against the Reds, Hamels is 6-0 with a 1.07 ERA. Brandon Phillips is 2-for-22 (.091 avg) in regular season action in his career against Hamels.

Tuesday, 7:05PM. Johnny Cueto (2-1, 1.45 ERA) vs. Vance Worley (2-0, 1.12 ERA). In 4 career regular season starts against the Phillies, the righty Cueto has a 1-2 record with a 5.96 ERA. Jimmy Rollins is 2-for-11 (.182 avg) in regular season action against Cueto. Batters are hitting .186 against Cueto this season. In 5 starts for Triple A Lehigh Valley this season, Worley posted a 2-2 record with a 3.51 ERA. In 9 Major League appearances, the 23-year-old Worley has held opponents to a .168 batting average.

Wednesday, 7:05. Travis Wood (3-5, 5.17 ERA) vs. Roy Halladay (6-3, 2.21 ERA). These two pitchers faced off last July in Philadelphia and each hurler threw 9 shut out innings. In 5 road starts this season, the left-handed Wood has posted a 1-1 record with a 4.20 ERA. Wood has a 7.04 ERA in 6 night starts this year. In his last 6 starts, Halladay is 4-2 with a 1.85 ERA. In 6 home starts this season, Halladay has a 4-1 record with a 2.47 ERA.



Thursday, 1:05PM. Homer Bailey (3-1, 2.08 ERA) vs. Cliff Lee (3-4, 3.37 ERA). Bailey is 0-2 with a 6.43 ERA in 3 regular season games against the Phillies. In 4 starts this season, Bailey has held opponents to a .198 batting average. Lee is 2-1 with a 2.31 ERA in 5 starts at Citizens Bank Park this year. In 8 career starts against the Reds in his career, Lee has a 4-2 record with a 4.69 ERA. Brandon Phillips is 5-for-15 (.333 avg) with a homerun in his career against Lee.



Last year's National League Most Valuable Player Joey Votto is batting .343 with a 1.073 ERA on the road this year through games played on Saturday.

In 7 career regular season games against the Phillies, Drew Stubbs has a .200 average with a .473 OPS. In 21 road games this season, Stubbs is batting .247.

In 12 career regular season games against the Phillies, Reds closer Francisco Cordero has a 1-0 record with 6 saves in 8 chances with a 2.19 ERA and a .116 batting average against.

Jimmy Rollins is a career .287 hitter with 50 runs scored in 67 regular season games against the Reds. Rollins has a .676 OPS in 33 night games this season.

In 15 home games this season, Carlos Ruiz is batting .163. Also, Ruiz is batting .174 off of left-handed pitchers thus far in 2011.

Chase Utley is a career .324 hitter in 41 regular season games against the Reds. Utley posted a .925 OPS in 61 home game last season.

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Photo- Joe Wombough

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Lakewood's Buchanan Shining in the SAL

Lakewood starting pitcher David Buchanan is off to a tremendous start in the 2011 season. Through 9 starts, the right-hander has prevailed as the premiere hurler on the Phillies Class A BlueClaws staff.

Buchanan, a 7th round draft pick of the Phillies in last year's amateur draft, has used his fastball, his slider and his sinker to dominate South Atlantic League batters. Following his victory against the West Virginia Power on Sunday, Buchanan leads the league in ERA (2.21) and innings pitched (57) and is tied for the league lead in wins (6).

Earlier this month, Buchanan threw a complete game and got the win against the Yankees affiliate Charleston RiverDogs. It was the BlueClaws' first 9 inning complete game since 2007, when Carlos Monasterios achieved the feat.

The 6-foot-3-inch, 190-pound Buchanan is humble and credits the team and coaches behind him for helping him achieve early success in his first full season of professional baseball.

"I've got great guys behind me," Buchanan stated. "I'm a ground ball pitcher and after I pitch, you don't see too many errors on the board, if any, and that says a lot about the defense. I just go out there and do my job and trust them to make the plays and we win as a team."

"Every game I've gone out there, I've just had the same approach, and that's to get strike one and take things pitch by pitch," Buchanan added. "That technique is straight from my pitching coach Steve Schrenk. Where I get hurt is when I start to overanalyze things. If, at times, I start to worry about previous innings or a missed pitch, I know I have to gather myself and say, 'Don't worry about that kind of stuff'. So, Schrenk really helps me to slow the game down and keep it simple."

The Peachtree City, GA native, Buchanan, was previously drafted in 2009 by the New York Mets, but chose not to sign. Instead, he transferred from Chipola Junior College in Florida to Georgia State University where he became that school's highest drafted player ever.

During the MLB draft last June, Buchanan was monitoring the proceedings online with his dad, a friend and other family members. Unfortunately for the excited crowd, David's internet service froze just as the Phillies' 7th round pick came up. The folks in attendance at the Buchanan residence missed his selection on the live webcast.

"I got drafted, so it was going to be great no matter what happened," Buchanan said. "But, my computer froze up, so I actually missed my name being called. But, soon after, I got a call (from the Phillies) saying, 'Hey, congratulations. We drafted you.' So, in the end it was a great experience. The whole family was there to enjoy it."

The 22-year-old Buchanan grew up 10 minutes from Turner Field in Atlanta and was, of course, a Braves fan. However, after following the likes of Atlanta's highly regarded pitching rotation of the 1990's, Buchanan is now a fan of a new faction of top-notch hurlers...ones from a rival organization that drafted him.

"I was born and raised a Braves fan," Buchanan said. "And I always liked the four aces...Smoltz, Maddux, Glavine, Avery, those guys. These days, I like watching Tim Hudson. I kind of try to follow his approach to the game because he's a sinker ball and ground ball pitcher. I like watching Cole Hamels, because of his change up and I've always wanted to develop a good one. And, of course, who doesn't like watching Doc (Halladay)? That whole Phillies rotation is special."

And Buchanan hopes to one day be a part of that staff, to help shut down the team he grew up adoring. It remains to be seen if Buchanan's friends and family will make the full conversion right along with him, or if they'll be hoping for future broadcast freezes so they don't have to choose between their hometown kid and their hometown team.

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Friday, May 20, 2011

Phillies Minor Updates, 5/20/11

Here are a few exclusive insider updates on some players in the Philadelphia developmental system.


-The Double A Reading Phillies have made a move with their pitching staff, moving 26-year-old Canadian Chris Kissock into the bullpen this week, after he surrendered 6 earned runs in 3 innings in his last start. Kissock had posted a 1-4 record and a 6.81 ERA in 7 starts this season. Filling the void in the team's rotation will be 25-year-old BJ Rosenberg, who previously helped solidify a strong bullpen for the R-Phils. Rosenberg, had never started as a professional, but Reading manager Mark Parent expressed some confidence in the decision to switch the two righty hurlers' roles.

"Well, we want to get Kissock back in a role that is comfortable and that he was real successful in. BJ will be able to throw more innings and continue to improve his secondary stuff, which is improving all the time," Parent said on Friday.

In his first start on Friday night, Rosenberg, who was selected by the Phillies in the 13th round of the 2008 draft, allowed 3 hits and 1 earned run over 4 innings while walking 1, striking out 5. Rosenberg did not record a decision.

Under normal circumstances Mike Cisco would have taken the vacancy, but the right-hander was placed on the disabled list on Friday with an elbow strain in his throwing arm.


-Travis "Moose" Mattair has been on the disabled list since early this month with a strained oblique. Mattair is progressing well but still has some time before returning to the active roster for the High A Level Clearwater Threshers.

Mattair offered some comments on his recovery: "Rehab has been going really well lately. I'm improving every day. The training staff has me progressing at the perfect rate."

The 2nd round pick in the 2007 amateur draft has been throwing pain-free and expects to take ground balls and some swings on Saturday. Mattair's time frame for a return to action is likely by the time the Threshers begin their next home stand on May 31st. Mattair says he will play in 3-4 extended spring training games prior to re-joining the active Threshers roster.


-Right-handed reliever Mike McGuire will see his first extended spring training game action on Saturday. McGuire, who pitched with Class A Lakewood last season had vascular surgery in the off-season after discovering a serious blood clot in his non-pitching arm while performing a routine workout at his local gym.

The surgery required the removal of McGuire's first rib to clear room in the problem area for circulation.

The 24-year-old McGuire describes his recovery as positive and says his shoulder has been feeling good.

McGuire, a Swarthmore, PA native who grew up as a Phillies fan, stands 6-feet-7-inches tall and weighs about 240 pounds.

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Series Preview: Rangers at Phillies, 5/20-5/22

The two teams that Cliff Lee has pitched for in the last two World Series will meet this weekend, as the Texas Rangers (23-21) travel to Philadelphia to take on the Phillies (26-17).

The 3-game set will mark the second straight series in which the National League East Division leading Phillies will host a first place team.

Lee, who was traded from Seattle to Texas last July, will start on Saturday and be faced by his former teammate Colby Lewis in a game set to be televised by the FOX network.

Read on for more details on the pitching match ups and plenty more statistics for this series.


Friday, 7:05PM. CJ Wilson (4-2, 3.37 ERA) vs Roy Halladay (5-3, 2.21 ERA). In 3 road starts this season, Wilson has a 1-1 record with a 2.78 ERA. In his last 5 starts, Wilson is 2-2 with a 3.60 ERA. Raul Ibanez is 2-for-19 (.105 avg) in his career against Wilson. Halladay is 3-1 with a 2.52 ERA in 5 home starts this season. In his last 5 starts, Halladay is 3-2 with a 1.77 ERA. In 20 career games against Texas, Halladay is 7-7 with a 5.36 ERA.

Saturday, 7:10PM. Colby Lewis (4-4, 3.81 ERA) vs. Cliff Lee (2-4, 3.84 ERA). In 4 road starts this season, the righty Lewis is 2-2 with a 2.61 ERA. In his last 4 starts, Lewis has posted a 3-1 record and a 1.67 ERA. Lee, the former Ranger, has a 6-3 record with a 5.55 ERA in 10 career starts against Texas. In 4 home starts this season, Lee is 1-1 with a 3.00 ERA. Ian Kinsler is 9-for-20 (.450 avg) with a double and a triple in his career against Lee.

Sunday, 1:35PM. Matt Harrison (3-4, 4.27 ERA) vs. Roy Oswalt (3-1, 3.09 ERA). In his last 5 starts, the left-handed Harrison has posted a 0-4 record with a 7.03 ERA. Lefty hitting opponents are batting .318 against Harrison this season. In 12 career starts against Texas, Oswalt has a 4-6 record with a 4.54 ERA and a .290 batting average against. In 12 regular season starts at Citizens Bank Park, Oswalt 10-0 with a 2.23 ERA.


Through games played on Wednesday, Ian Kinsler was batting just .159 in 18 road games this season. In 3 career games against the Phils, Kinsler is 9-for-13 (.692 avg).

Michael Young is 35-for-113 (.310 avg) combined in his career against the Phillies' 3 scheduled starters in this series.

Rangers closer Neftali Feliz has blown a save in each of his last two outings. Feliz has a 1.26 ERA through 14 games this season.


Through games played Wednesday, Placido Polanco was batting .341 at home this season. In 25 career games against the Rangers, Polanco is a .298 hitter.

Ryan Madson is 2-0 with 7 saves and a 0.53 ERA in 17 games this season. Madson has a 4-4 record with 1 blown save and a 4.70 ERA in 36 career interleague games.

Ryan Howard is batting .161 in 17 May games.
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Rizzotti Staying Hot With Sights Set on Majors

With first base for the Phillies occupied for the foreseeable future by former All-star and league Most Valuable Player Ryan Howard, minor leaguer Matt Rizzotti just doesn't have a clear path to the big leagues. Despite extremely solid success down on the farm, Rizzotti remains an understudy in waiting behind the 31-year-old Howard, who is signed with Philadelphia through the 2016 season.

Last season, Rizzotti shot up two levels in the Phillies' developmental ranks. The 6-foot-5-inch, 265-pound slugger began the 2010 season with the High A level Clearwater Threshers, earning a promotion to Double A Reading before ultimately landing with the Triple A Lehigh Valley IronPigs. Combined at the three levels, Rizzotti batted .343 with 36 doubles, 17 homers and 76 RBI in 124 games played. He was also selected to the Eastern League All-star game.

Thus far this year, Rizzotti is continuing to wreck EL pitching. Back with Reading, the Floral Park, NY native is batting .359 with 8 homeruns and 30 RBI in 39 games played.

Compared by some to the likes of former Phillie Jim Thome, at times, Rizzotti is similar to Howard also, in that all three players possess large frames that are best suited to man first base on the field. However, some baseball heads who have scouted Rizzotti claim that his defense requires a lot of improvement. Rizzotti hears those remarks.

"I've actually heard the term that I'm a butcher. I mean, I like meat, I really do. I enjoy a steak here and there. I don't know about being a butcher though. I'm gonna try and get better and I guess the butcher will be trying to perfect his cuts," Rizzotti joked.

Kidding aside, Rizzotti is pleased to speak of his time with the big club in Spring Training this year and anticipates more opportunities to play at that level. In 5 at bats, Rizzotti slammed a double and a homerun, while driving in 2 runs. Despite the success, attention and accolades, Rizzotti still remained a bit of a kid in a candy store when it came to participating in action with established MLB veterans this past spring.

"It's every minor leaguer's dream to just go up there. It was pretty cool, that there are guys we grew up watching on TV. It was just a taste of what it's like and how cool it is to actually be up on that level," Rizzotti said.

The 25-year-old Rizzotti cites spending time with Howard this spring as something he waited a long time for and a highlight of his professional career to date.

"Me and him had some good conversations about hitting. It was just good to be around him. Ryan Howard, it was just great to sit down and pick his brain and see what his whole theory is on hitting," Rizzotti stated.

Drawing an explosive output from his own abilities over the past two seasons, Rizzotti will be sure to draw interest from other teams as the trading deadline approaches this season. The Phillies will be sure to listen to such inquiries, as they too realize that Rizzotti is relatively blocked by the man known as "The Big Piece".

Reading manager Mark Parent says that Rizzotti was pulled back to the Double A level because the Phillies thought he still had things to improve on and Reading would be the best place to do so.

Parent does admit that it's just a matter of time before his "butcher" moves back up to higher levels.

"Eventually, they're gonna see if he can (compete at higher levels) or not. So far this season, he's improved in his defense, he's conditioning better. These are all things he's gotta work on. If he was to get called up, or taken to another club and go to the big leagues, he could go from (this level)," Parent said when speaking of the difference between Double A and Triple A in Rizzotti's case.

For now, Rizzotti mashes hurlers' offerings as a member of the R-Phils. Time will tell if he gets the opportunity to move up and do so as a member of the big league Phils, or if it's as a member of another organization.

Either way...he's the Rizz, and nobody beats him.

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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Justin De Fratus Interview Excerpts- May, 2011

Armed with a 2-0 record, 3 saves and a 2.95 ERA in 15 games this season for the Double A Reading Phillies, Justin De Fratus continues to make strides toward his goal of reaching the Major Leagues.

Ranked as a top 10 prospect within the Phillies system last off-season, the 23-year-old De Fratus was in camp with the Phillies during big league spring training. In 3 games with the Phils during the Grapefruit League season, De Fratus allowed 4 earned runs in 4 innings and took a loss. He did strike out an impressive 5 batters in those 4 frames, however.

Drafted in the 11th round of the 2007 amateur draft, De Fratus stood out as a force in relief last year for both the High A Clearwater Threshers and the R-Phils. In 49 combined games at the two levels, De Fratus posted a 3-0 record with 21 saves and a 1.94 ERA.

De Fratus continued his excellent 2011 by pitching for Team USA in the Pan-American qualifiers held in Puerto Rico, helping the Americans finish with a 9-1 record. He also posted outstanding statistics for the Mesa Solar Sox in the Arizona Fall League, holding opponents to a .125 batting average in 7 scoreless outings.

I spoke with Justin recently about his Reading teammates, his well regarded command, Twitter and much more. Check out the media player below to listen to excerpts from the interview.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Series Preview: Rockies at Phillies, 5/18-5/19

The Phillies (40-26) return home on Wednesday, to start a brief 2-game series with the Colorado Rockies (22-18) in what will be a clash of two first place teams.

In the series opener, the National League West leading Rockies will send lefty Jorge De La Rosa, who was never beaten the Phillies, to the mound. The 4-time defending East Division champion Phillies will counter with Cole Hamels, who allowed 7 earned runs in 3 2/3 innings in his only previous regular season start against Colorado in 2009.

Last year the Phillies won 6 of 7 meetings with the Rockies, including all 4 games played in Philadelphia.

Read ahead for details on the pitching match ups and plenty more key statistics from this series.


Wednesday, 7:05PM. Jorge De La Rosa (5-1, 3.70 ERA) vs. Cole Hamels (4.2, 3.19 ERA). In 6 career games against the Phillies, De La Rosa has a 0-3 record with a 8.78 ERA and a .321 batting average against. In 5 road starts this season, De La Rosa is 2-1 with a 3.82 ERA. Shane Victorino is 4-for-9 (.444 avg) with a homerun in his career against De La Rosa. In 78 career regular season starts at Citizens Bank Park, Hamels has a 3.40 ERA. In his last 4 starts, Hamels is 2-1 with a 3.41 ERA.

Thursday, 7:05PM. Jhoulys Chacin (4-2, 2.89 ERA) vs. Joe Blanton (1-2, 5.50 ERA). In 3 road starts this season, Chacin is 2-1 with a 5.00 ERA. Chacin has a 2.20 ERA in 6 night starts this season. In his last 4 starts, Blanton is 1-1 with a 3.38 ERA. In 2 career starts against Colorado, Blanton is 1-0 with a 5.23 ERA. Carlos Gonzalez is 4-for-5 with a HR in his career against Blanton.


In 11 career regular season games against the Phillies, Carlos Gonzalez is a .385 hitter with a 1.004 OPS. In 19 road games this year, Gonzalez is batting .186.

Troy Tulowitzki has a .179 batting average with a .590 OPS through 14 games played this month.

In 5 career regular season games against the Phillies, Houston Street is 0-1 with 1 save and a 5.79 ERA. Street's 13 saves this year are second best in the National League.

Shane Victorino's batting average splits vs. lefties & righties- .400/.250.

Ryan Madson has a 3.04 ERA in 14 regular season games against the Rockies. Overall in 16 games this season, opponents are batting .161 against Madson, who has posted a 2-0 record and a 0.56 ERA.

After batting .161 in 24 April games, Raul Ibanez was batting .327 in 14 May games, through games played on Monday. Ibanez is batting .300 with 3 HR and 14 RBI in 19 home games this season.
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Philadelphia Dealings: The Price is Right

The various costs the Phillies have paid to acquire their dream rotation of top-of-the-line starting pitchers are high and well-documented. The long-term contracts - including the Phillies’ first-ever $20 million arms – put the monetary cost front and center, but the secondary cost of acquiring these players can sometimes be forgotten.

Really, it’s not hard to see why. When players like Roy Halladay and Roy Oswalt do what they’ve done for the Phils at the Major League level, caring about what could have been with prospects is pushed aside in favor of appreciation, awe and admiration for what actually is.

Still, for nostalgia’s sake, it’s nice to keep tabs on former Philly farmhands. In the case of the Phillies, a slew of young players were exchanged for this lineup of fierce hurlers. Few teams have had the depth and quality – or, at least, perceived quality – of minor leaguers to pull off deals like these, especially not in a two-plus-season span. It’s a big family to monitor.

Sadly, not every prospect pans out. It happens. Kyle Drabek is one of the lucky few to have established a spot on a Major League team’s 25-man roster, but what of the other youngsters in the Halladay package? How about the quartet sent to Cleveland for Cliff Lee? Oswalt? Joe Blanton? Unfortunately, not all of the prospects in those deals have panned out to date. Here’s a look at the ace-bait that may not have provided the production their teams were hoping for.


The Halladay Trade

Prior to the 2010 season, Michael Taylor was rated the 29th-best prospect in baseball by Baseball America. He and Domonic Brown appeared to be set to provide the next homegrown one-two punch, one for each corner of the outfield. When the time came for a strong play to land Roy Halladay, Taylor and Brown were, understandably, near the top of Toronto’s shopping list. In the end, Brown stayed, Taylor went, and Halladay made history in 2010.

Taylor was subsequently flipped to Oakland for Brett Wallace, but he seemed to leave his power north of the border. After hitting 39 homers over four minor league levels in his final two years in the Philly system, Taylor hit just six long balls (with a .392 SLG) for Triple-A Sacramento. Taylor, now 25, has yet to sniff the Majors, and his time as a prospect may have passed.

Travis d’Arnaud, a first-round pick of the Phillies that Toronto coveted in 2007, impressed as a 19-year-old in A-ball, but has provided little offensive impact since. A DL stint for back issues limited him to just 71 games in 2010, and his .257/.307/.414 line in Double-A as of Monday isn’t exactly inspiring confidence. To his credit, d’Arnaud does still receive praise based on his catching abilities, but his outlook as a solid offensive option seems to be more of a now-diminished flash in the pan.


The Lee Trade

Before the Phils acquired Halladay in the 2009-10 offseason, there were strong indications that he would be a July trade deadline acquisition. Instead, after balking at J.P. Ricciardi’s asking price, the Phils turned their attention to Cleveland’s Cliff Lee. Acquiring Lee and outfielder Ben Francisco cost the Phillies four minor leaguers, each of them highly-regarded at the time. None has approached accumulating the value that Lee has provided to the three teams he’s been part of since that 2009 trade.

Carlos Carrasco showed some promise in 2010, but his production has been in flux. Make-up issues remain, too, as he’s earned a reputation of imploding once things start to go awry. Jason Donald, a utility infielder some thought could have been Jimmy Rollins’s heir at shortstop, has not hit well and now finds himself on the DL. Lou Marson does provide some defensive value, but his abysmal offensive production in 2010 seems to take some of the sheen off his decent 2011 numbers. In any case, he’s destined to be an eternal backup behind Carlos Santana. Jason Knapp, a fireballer, has had to deal with shoulder trouble ever since being traded and has yet to throw a pitch this season after making only nine starts in 2010.

Startlingly poor results from a group of prospects that was meant to fill the void of a departed ace (to say nothing of Philly’s subsequent trading of Lee to Seattle the following winter).


The Oswalt Trade

There’s little injury trouble to speak of, but the three players sent to Houston for Roy O. – Jonathan Villar, Anthony Gose and J.A. Happ – aren’t exactly inspiring more confidence than the group Cleveland acquired for Lee.

Villar, as a 20-year-old in High-A, is hitting just .254/.349/.357, though speed and athleticism were always bigger pros to Villar’s game than his bat. Gose, like Taylor before him, was flipped by Houston to Toronto for Brett Wallace, and his offensive production also seems to be leaving a bit to be desired. Like Villar, Gose is and has been more of a projectable athlete than a polished hitter, but a .259/.327/.368 career line in 1,342 minor league plate appearances doesn’t inspire a boatload of confidence.

As for Happ, the lanky lefty hasn’t done enough to fill in for Oswalt. An overachiever in Philly, Happ’s numbers have suffered a fate of regression in Houston that some feared would happen as a member of the Phillies. A 5.40 ERA through eight starts with less-than-stellar peripherals for the 28-year-old will hardly make Houston fans forget about the man who led their rotation for the better part of a decade.


The Blanton Trade

The first of the starting pitcher trade brigade, Joe Blanton arrived as an unheralded Oakland starter who had quietly posted decent numbers in a good pitcher’s park.

In July of 2008, the Phillies sent then-top-prospect Adrian Cardenas as part of a three-player package for Blanton that also included Josh Outman and Matt Spencer. Relative to Domonic Brown, Cardenas wasn’t much of a hot shot blue-chipper, but he had shown promise. His 2009 and 2010 seasons were a combination of successful Double-A campaigns and lackluster Triple-A stints, letting some doubt about Cardenas’s future seep in, to be sure. This year, the 23-year-old has handled Triple-A pitching with ease so far, potentially readying himself to finally assist Oakland’s lackluster offense.

Outman is the only one of the three to have accumulated any Major League time thus far, but an elbow injury and Tommy John surgery cost him most of the 2009 season and all of the 2010 season, and he has struggled so far in Triple-A this year. Spencer isn’t a much brighter spot, as he’s only now taking Double-A to task as a 25-year-old, too old for the level to be considered a prospect anymore.


It’s an unfortunate situation for the clubs that have counted on these youngsters to bolster their clubs for years to come. Obviously, a verdict is still far from rendered. All of these players still have time to improve, but their various nicks and blemishes have left the Phillies as, for now, clear “winners” in all four deals. Perhaps the prospects were overhyped, products of a farm system for a team whose fanbase swelled rapidly, producing extra hype not seen in some smaller markets. Perhaps their development has been stunted, whether by injury or some other mitigating factors. Whatever the case, the Phillies acquired these four prominent starting pitchers for prospect costs that seem comparatively light after a short stretch of time.

To the victors go the spoils.
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This post was written by Paul Boye', AKA- The Phrontiersman. You can follow Paul on Twitter by clicking HERE.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Interview with R-Phils Hitting Coach Frank Cacciatore

Currently, through 37 games, the Double A Reading Phillies lead the Eastern League with a .280 batting average. The R-Phils are also tops in the EL with 195 runs scored, 42 homeruns and a .776 OPS. If you ask the players, their hitting coach, Frank Cacciatore, has a lot to do with their success.

Cacciatore, 58, has been with the team since 2008. Previously, he managed in the minors in the Mets, Giants and Astros systems. Cacciatore also coached in the developmental ranks of the Nationals organization.

In his playing days, Cacciatore reached as high as Double A in the Tigers system.

Last week I spoke with coach Frank about his team's success at the plate, various prospects, his own approach and plenty more. Check out the media player below to listen to the full interview.


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Monday, May 16, 2011

Series Preview: Phillies at Cardinals, 5/16- 5/17

Fresh off a series loss in Atlanta, the Phillies (25-14) still sport the best record in the league and continue their road trip with 2 games in St. Louis against the Cardinals (22-19).

This brief series will pit one exceptional offense against one outstanding pitching staff. The Cardinals' offense has been the strength of the club for much of the season, leading the Majors in runs scored (210) and batting average (.284), while the Phillies' highly-regarded pitching staff has the second best ERA in the National League (3.12).

Philadelphia and St. Louis each won four of the eight games the teams played against one another last season.

Details on the pitching match ups for this series and plenty more statistics lie ahead.


Monday, 7:05PM. Cliff Lee (2-3, 3.78 ERA) vs. Jake Westbrook (2-3, 6.92 ERA). In his last 5 starts, Lee is 0-2 with a 3.54 ERA. In 2 career starts against St. Louis, Lee is 2-0 with a 1.20 ERA. In 4 road starts this season, Lee has a 1-2 record with a 4.62 ERA. In 1 career start against Philadelphia, Westbrook allowed 4 earned runs in 5 innings and got a no decision. In 4 home starts, Westbrook is 1-2 with an 8.24 ERA. Placido Polanco is 8-for-27 (.296 avg) against Westbrook in his career.

Tuesday, 8:15PM. Roy Oswalt (3-1, 3.33 ERA) vs. Jaime Garcia (5-0, 1.89 ERA). In 28 career games against St. Louis, Oswalt has a 9-8 record with a 3.19 ERA. In 3 road starts this season, Oswalt is 2-1 with a 3.60 ERA. Colby Rasmus is 4-for-9 (.444 avg) against Oswalt in his career. Garcia has a 0.39 ERA in 3 home starts this season. In 4 career games against the Phillies, Garcia has a 2-1 record with a 1.80 ERA and a .167 batting average against.


With a 0-for-5 day on Sunday, Jimmy Rollins ended his personal streak of reaching base via base hit or walk in 21 straight games. Rollins is .261 career hitter in 62 games against the Cardinals.

In 21 career games at Busch Stadium, Ryan Howard is a .388 hitter with 8 homeruns and 31 RBI.

Lefty reliever Antonio Bastardo has held opponents to a .146 batting average this season.

Former 1st round pick Colby Rasmus is a .207 hitter in 13 career games against the Phillies.

In 17 home games this season, Lance Berkman is batting .373 with a 1.100 OPS. Berkman is a career .292 hitter in 64 games against the Phillies.

Matt Holiday's .379 batting average is best in the National League. Holliday is a career .337 hitter in 137 games at Busch Stadium.

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Sunday, May 15, 2011

MLB Jeopardy Part 13

For $500 in the category of 1980's MLB hair-do's...the answer is-

Long-time MLB player and current Phillies third base coach Juan Samuel was pleased to locate his hair-do from 25 years ago on this musical legend.



Question: Who is rock star Carlos Santana?



As a bonus, here are more pics from Saturday's MLB Beacon Awards Banquet in Atlanta, GA.

Brad Lidge, John Mayberry Jr., Ben Francisco, Pete Orr, baseball Hall of Famer Frank Robinson, Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard.

Howard and his fiance Krystal Campbell meet film star Morgan Freeman

Santana with Phils broadcaster Tom McCarthy
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Credit- Getty

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Harper Homer Lashes Lakewood

In a game in which former Phillies top draft pick Anthony Hewitt earned the dreaded Golden Sombrero, last year's top overall draft pick Bryce Harper helped the Nationals affiliate Hagerstown Suns lock down a 1-0 victory over the hometown Lakewood BlueClaws.

Harper had a difficult time in his first two trips to the plate on Saturday, as he faced Lakewood righty Garett Claypool, who got the best of the much-hyped Harper by shutting him down on strikes both times. However, the youngster sometimes referred to as "The Natural" was prepared for Claypool's fastball in his third at bat and drove it the opposite way, to deep left field for a homerun that scored the game's lone run.

The homer extended the 6-foot-3-inch, 225-pound outfielder's hitting streak to 18 consecutive games.

Harper later added a single off of BlueClaws reliever Colby Shreve. The Nevada native is batting a stunning .472 in 13 May games.

Hewitt, Philadelphia's 1st round selection in the 2008 draft, struck out 4 times in 4 trips to the plate against three different Suns hurlers and saw his season batting average fall to .240.


Two interesting notes from Lakewood...
1- With roughly 200 fans waiting outside FirstEnergy Park's visitors' lockerroom hoping to see Harper exit on Friday night, BlueClaws team officials decided to sneak Harper out a different exit and drive him to the team bus, just down the sidewalk from the facility. Harper was secretly loaded onto the bus, which drove away, with fans still waiting.

2- For Friday's game, Harper was designated as the IHOP Strike Out Player of the Game. The promotion provides discount coupons to fans in attendance if the designated player strikes out. Harper locked in the reward for the crowd with his 1st inning punch out at the hands of Lakewood left-hander Jesse Biddle. When he learned of the promotion after the game, Harper jokingly stated that he hoped to be included in the coupon distribution. Prior to Saturday's game, a Lakewood staffer presented Harper with his IHOP discount voucher.


Check the media player below for audio of Harper's Saturday postgame meeting with the local media.



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Friday, May 13, 2011

Series Pitching Matchups: Phillies at Braves, 5/13-5/15


The Phillies (24-12) take on the Braves (21-18) in a 3-game series this weekend in Atlanta. Here is a detailed report on the pitching match ups for this series.

Friday, 7:35 PM. Cole Hamels (4-2, 2.83 ERA) vs. Brandon Beachy (1-1, 2.98 ERA). In 21 career starts against Atlanta, Hamels has posted a 10-6 record with a 3.72 ERA. In 3 road starts this season, Hamels is 3-0 with a 1.23 ERA and a .158 batting average against. In his last 12 road starts dating back to last July, including the postseason, Hamels has a 6-2 record with a 1.40 ERA. Dan Uggla is 6-for-43 (.140 avg) in his career against Hamels. The right-handed Beachy has a 0-3 record with a 3.94 ERA in 3 career starts against the Phillies. In his last 4 starts, Beachy is 1-0 with a 1.44 ERA. Carlos Ruiz, who is expected to be activated from the disabled list for the start of this series, is 3-for-4 with 2 doubles against Beachy.

Saturday, 1:10 PM. Joe Blanton (1-1, 5.83 ERA) vs. Jair Jurrjens (4-0, 1.50 ERA). In 9 career games against the Braves, Blanton is 1-3 with a 5.67 ERA. In 3 road starts this season, Blanton has a 1-1 record with a 5.00 ERA. Brian McCann is 8-for-20 (.400 avg) with 2 HR and 6 RBI in his career against Blanton. Jurrjens held the Phillies to 1 run over 6 2/3 inning last Sunday to earn a win. In 10 career starts against Philadelphia, Jurrjens is 4-3 with a 2.45 ERA. Wilson Valdez is 5-for-9 (.556 avg) against Jurrjens.

Sunday, 1:35 PM. Roy Halladay (5-2, 2.05 ERA) vs. Tim Hudson (4-3, 3.09 ERA). In 5 career starts against Atlanta, Halladay has a 4-0 record with a 1.26 ERA. In 3 road starts this season, batters are hitting .178 against Halladay. Nate McLouth is 0-for-10 in his career against Halladay. In 5 home starts this season, Hudson is 2-2 with a 3.21 ERA. In his last 4 starts, Hudson is 2-1 with a 2.20 ERA.

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Photo- AP

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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

R-Phils Avoid Sweep in Trenton

The Double A Reading Phillies (20-12) needed a stopper after dropping the first two games of a series against the Yankees affiliate Trenton Thunder (17-16). Austin Hyatt filled the role.

After being shut down by Thunder aces Dellin Batances and Manny Banuelos in games 1 and 2 respectively, Hyatt made his mark on the Waterfront Park mound on Wednesday night. The 24-year-old right-hander was impressive, scattering 7 hits, walking 1 batter, striking out 5 and allowing just 2 runs in 6 2/3 innings to earn his 5th win of the season.

The 15th round draft pick from 2009, Hyatt, used his change up efficiently to keep the Thunder batters guessing all night long, en route to helping his club lock down a 7-3 victory.

Hyatt was cruising with a shutout until a mistake to Trenton center fielder Melky Mesa with two outs in the 6th landed in the Delaware River for a 2-run homer.

Matt Rizzotti led the offense with three hits and 2 RBI, including a tremendous solo homerun to straight-away center field in the third inning off of Thunder starter Shaeffer Hall.

Cody Overbeck added 2 RBI, as well, on a single in the 9th inning, which prevented occasional closer Justin De Fratus from pitching in a save situation.


Check out the audio player below to hear what Reading manager Mark Parent and Austin Hyatt had to say about the victory after the game.



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Ramirez Struggles in Minor Battle of Aces

TRENTON, NJ- The big league match up in Florida wasn't the only game being billed as a pitchers duel on Tuesday night. In the second game of a 3-games series at Waterfront Park, Phillies minor league pitcher of the month for April JC Ramirez was set to lead Double A Reading against highly touted lefty prospect Manny Banuelos and the Yankees affiliate Trenton Thunder.

For one side, it was quickly evident that their hurler wasn't going to live up to the hype on this night.

Ramirez, a 22-year-old Nicaragua native, struggled through a long bottom of the 1st inning, tossing 31 pitches and letting up a run before he could retire the side. The difficult early frame set the tone for the right-handed Ramirez's night, as he did not make it past the third inning for the R-Phils, who dropped this game 4-2.

Trenton got the scoring started in the first when a lazy fly ball by Bradley Suttle got lost in the twilight sky by everyone on defense and fell in shallow center field to plate Austin Krum, giving the Thunder a 1-0 lead.

Reading clapped back in the 2nd inning to tie the game at 1, when Mike Spidale brought home Derrick Mitchell with an RBI single.

In the bottom of the frame, Trenton snatched the lead back quickly, as second baseman Corban Joseph smashed a lead off triple and was brought home on right fielder Ray Kruml's single. Later in the inning, Thunder shortstop Jose Pirela slapped a base hit off of Reading shortstop Freddy Galvis' mitt, which enabled Kruml to score and put Trenton up by 2. Pirela's hit was the third of the night surrendered by Ramirez that ricocheted off a teammate's glove.

The Thunder added another run in the 3rd, when designated hitter Cody Johnson sent a dunker over the right field wall and into the Delaware River.

An RBI double by Reading catcher Tuffy Gosewisch in the 5th inning brought Reading within 2 runs, but it would be the final run of the game.

Banuelos, a 20-year-old Mexico native, earned the win, as he struck out 5 batters over 5 innings and allowed just 3 hits and 2 earned runs.

Ramirez took the loss, his second of the season. The 6-foot-3-inch, 225-pounder posted four terrific efforts in April to earn the nod as Phillies Minor League Pitcher of the Month. In those games, Ramirez posted a 4-0 record with a 1.03 ERA. In two outings since then, he is 0-2 with a 9.52 ERA.

Reading pitching coach Bob Milacki described Ramirez's struggles as a battle of command.

"He really struggled. The biggest thing is running deep counts. A couple key hits for them and a ball lost in the sky, then it was deep counts in the first inning and it just continued." Milacki said.

Reading's announced pitch count was 68 pitches for Ramirez. The decision was made to go to the bullpen in the 4th inning.

"We (pulled him) after 3 innings because of how much he pitched in the first inning and two more long innings after that," Milacki said.

Ramirez expressed that his drastic slide since the calendar flipped over to May is due to a lack of belief in his pitch repertoire and blamed himself for the recent downturn.

"I think it's confidence. When you've got no confidence, you've got nothing, you know? I think that's the obvious thing right now. I didn't have confidence in my pitches, so that's something I need to get back. I just wasn't focused." Ramirez stated.

Solid relief work from Tyson Brummett and Jacob Diekman kept the Phils in the game, shutting out the Thunder offense for 5 innings. Brummett, a 7th round draft selection in 2007 by Philadelphia, threw 2 2/3 innings, allowing just 1 hit and no runs while striking out 2 Thunder batters. Diekman, a left-hander taken in the 30th round in 2007, tossed 2 1/3 scoreless, striking out 1 and allowing 1 hit.

The 26-year-old Brummett's ERA now stands at 1.89 through 9 games this season.

Reading and Trenton go back at in the series finale on Wednesday night at 7:05PM when Austin Hyatt (4-1, 3.27 ERA) takes on Shaeffer Hall (2-2, 2.92 ERA).


More minors notes-

Triple A Lehigh Valley won their game on Tuesday 3-1 over Toledo. Minor league vet Kevin Frandsen recorded 2 hits including a homerun while lefty Mike Zagurski (1.08 ERA for the Pigs this season) recorded his 4th save. Dom Brown went 1-for-4 with a double. He has hit safely in all 8 games played with Lehigh Valley this year.

High A Level Clearwater lost to Palm Beach, 5-1. Starter Jonathan Pettibone (1.69 ERA) took the loss, allowing 1 ER in 6 2/3 innings, dropping his season record to 3-2. Chase Utley went 1-for-4 in that game, as he began an official rehab assignment on Tuesday. Catcher Sebastian Valle had 2 hits and is batting .303 this season in 23 games.

Class A Lakewood lost at Greensboro, 9-2. Three BlueClaws regulars (CF Aaron Altherr, C Cameron Rupp and LF Zach Collier) have batting averages below .200. Infielder Alan Schoenberger (1-for-5, double, 2 RBI) is batting .333 with a .945 OPS in 8 games since being assigned to Lakewood from Clearwater.

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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

PhoulBallz.com Interview with Phillippe Aumont

Right-handed reliever Phillippe Aumont, part of the trio of players that the Phillies acquired when they traded Cliff Lee to Seattle in 2009, is back on track after an extremely rough start to his tenure in the Philadelphia organization.

Aumont, selected 11th overall in the 2007 amateur draft by the Mariners, was a highly touted prospect at the time of the trade. However, that didn't last very long.

After joining the Phillies organization Aumont struggled, as he was moved from the bullpen to the starting rotation. He began the season in Double A Reading and went 1-6 with a 7.43 ERA in 11 starts before being demoted to High A Clearwater. As a member of the Treshers, Aumont improved his numbers a bit, going 2-5 with a 4.48 ERA.

This season with the Double A Reading Phillies, the 22-year-old Canadian, now exclusively a reliever, has posted a 0-2 record with 2 saves and a 2.57 ERA in 11 games and has begun to rise back toward the Major Leagues.

I spoke with Phillippe last week about his success in a more comfortable role, his first exposure to baseball, his pitch repertoire and much more. Check out the media player below to listen to the full interview.



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Monday, May 9, 2011

Series Preview: Phillies at Marlins, 5/9-5/11

The last time Phillies ace Roy Halladay and Marlins ace Josh Johnson faced each other in Florida, was last May. The end result was a legendary outing, as Halladay tossed a perfect game. Those same hurlers will square off again in game 2 of a 3-game series this week at Sun Life Stadium in Miami, FL.

Before then, the Phillies (22-11) will send Joe Blanton to the mound, fresh off a disable list stint for an elbow impingement, in the series opener. The Marlins (20-13) will counter with right-hander Javier Vazquez.

The Phils and Marlins split two games when the two teams first faced off in April at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia.

Read ahead for details on the pitching match ups and more information on this series.


Monday, 7:10PM. Joe Blanton (0-1, 5.92 ERA) vs. Javier Vazquez (2-2, 6.39 ERA). Vazquez allowed 3 earned runs in 5 innings while not earning a decision in his previous start against the Phillies this season. In 2 home starts this season, Vazquez is 0-2 with a 7.56 ERA. In 29 career starts against the Phils, Vazquez has a 12-8 record with a 4.30 ERA. Raul Ibanez is 10-for-28 (.357 avg) with 4 homers and 8 RBI in his career against Vazquez. In 2 starts last season against the Marlins, Blanton posted a 1-0 record with a 2.19 ERA. In 3 career starts at Sun Life Stadium, Blanton is 3-0 with a 1.50 ERA.

Tuesday, 7:10PM. Roy Halladay (5-1, 2.19 ERA) vs. Josh Johnson (3-1, 1.68 ERA). In 7 career starts against the Marlins, Halladay is 4-2 with a 2.30 ERA. In 2 road starts this season, Halladay is 2-0 with a 1.53 ERA and opponents are batting .177 against him. Omar Infante is 1-for-12 (.083 avg) in his career against Halladay. In 13 career games against the Phillies, Johnson has a 5-3 record with a 3.34 ERA. Ryan Howard is 9-for-29 (.310 avg) with 2 doubles and 2 homeruns in his career against Johnson. In 4 home starts this season, Johnson is 2-0 with a 1.35 ERA.

Wednesday, 7:10PM. Cliff Lee (2-3, 3.69 ERA) vs. Ricky Nolansco (3-0, ). In 2 career starts against Florida, Lee is 1-0 with a 4.09 ERA. In 3 road starts this season, Lee has a 1-2 record with a 4.66 ERA. In 4 home starts this season, Nolasco is 1-0 with a 2.30 ERA. Carlos Ruiz is 1-for-11 (.091 avg) in his career against Nolasco.


In 43 games at Sun Life Stadium, Placido Polanco is a .262 hitter. Polanco's .365 batting average prior to action on Sunday was 4th best in the National League.

Ryan Howard has a .307 average in 97 career games against the Marlins with 29 homeruns and a 1.056 OPS.

Headed into action on Sunday, Shane Victorino has a .227 batting average in 22 night games.

Dominican Republic native Leo Nunez has a 2.95 ERA in 18 career games against the Phillies with 8 saves and 1 blown save. Polanco is 3-for-15 (.200 avg) against Nunez.

In 13 career games against the Phillies, Mike Stanton is a .296 hitter with 3 doubles and 4 homeruns.

Gaby Sanchez is a .293 hitter in 23 games against the Phillies.

Phillies team batting average- .258
Marlins team batting average- .249

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Sunday, May 8, 2011

PhoulBallz.com Interview with JC Ramirez

As part of the group of players that was sent to Philadelphia from Seattle in December 2009, in exchange for start pitcher Cliff Lee, expectations were high for JC Ramirez from the team, the fans and himself as well.

Originally signed by the Mariners in 2005 out of Nicaragua, the 22-year-old Ramirez was a catcher in his youth before he became a pitcher.

Ramirez joined the Phillies organization with a career ERA of 4.78 in 82 games as a professional. The righty starter pitched for both High A Level Clearwater and Double A Reading last year. Combined at the two levels, Ramirez posted a 7-7 record with a 4.82 ERA in 24 starts.

This season, with refined secondary pitches, the 6-foot-3-inch, 225-pound Ramirez is off to a scorching start to help lead the Reading Phillies to an 18-10 record, which is good enough for first place in the Eastern League's Eastern Division. In 5 games this season, Ramirez has a 4-1 record, a 1.86 ERA and a .186 batting average against.

This past week I spoke with JC about those high expectations, his progress, looking up to the big league Phils' pitching staff, Twitter and plenty more. Check out the media player below to listen to the full interview.



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Saturday, May 7, 2011

Utley Goes 5-for-7 in 2011 (Extended Spring) Debut


Down in Clearwater on Saturday, Phillies second baseman Chase Utley played in his first official game of 2011. Recovering from a knee injury (diagnosed as patellar tendonitis), Utley ventured to Clearwater to work out with the Phillies' trainers and rehabilitation staff. His presence there also enables him to play in extended spring training games with a Phillies club that features former top draft pick Kelly Dugan and rehabbing pitching prospect Brody Colvin.


In his first action of the season on Saturday, Utley went 5-for-7 with 2 homers and 3 singles. Utley batted in each inning he played. He also spent 5 innings in the field and took two innings off, as extended spring training has loose, exhibition-style rules that would allow rehabbing individuals to play and bat as they need to.


Utley told folks after the outing that his knee felt fine, but that he plans to spend the remainder of the weekend resting the tricky joint to ensure that no lingering effects pop up or become a problem. The 5-time All-star expects to play in another extended spring game this coming Monday.
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Photos- Joe Wombough

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EL Player of the Month Overbeck Continues to Grow

As an offensive force, Cody Overbeck has become a leader on the Double A Reading Phillies squad. The multi-positional Mississipian has 8 homeruns and 22 RBI, which are both good enough to lead the Eastern League.

Overbeck, who stands 6-feet-1-inch tall and weighs 200 pounds, has improved greatly in each of the past two seasons. Thus far in 2011, Overbeck has posted a slash line of .297/.333/.576 (batting average/on base percentage/slugging percentage). Combined at the two levels last year, Overbeck's output looked like- .276/.354/.490, which was a tremendous improvement over his 2009 statistics. In 96 games with Clearwater 2009, Overbeck's line was an unimpressive .230/.282/.399.

Named by the Eastern League as player of the month for April this season, Overbeck's focus as he progresses is on staying in a groove. He credits his hitting coach Frank Cacciatore for providing him with an extra pair of eyes and an experienced baseball mind to helping him make adjustments where he needs to.

"I think a lot of (my success thus far) has to do with Frank and doing early work and stuff," Overbeck said. "Working with him is spring training really got my swing going pretty good coming into the season.

"Whenever I am doing bad, my rhythm gets all messed up and Frank's always the one that keeps me on track there. We've been doing a lot of drills to keep my rhythm going and continuing to have a good idea at the plate."

A 9th round draft pick in the 2008 draft out of the University of Mississippi, Overbeck made his professional debut that year with short-season Williamsport, and in 72 games he slugged 12 homers and drove in 57 runs, while posting a .272 batting average.

In 2009, Overbeck skipped over Class A Lakewood and went directly to High A Level Clearwater. That season in 96 games, he once against knocked 12 homeruns while driving in 51 runs.

Overbeck returned to Clearwater to begin the 2010 campaign, but he quickly asserted himself as a force in the Florida State League when, in 58 games, he mashed 11 homers, drove in 41 runs and was named to the league's All-star team. Immediately following the FSL All-star game, Overbeck was promoted to Double A, where he continued a solid season, slugging another 12 homeruns in 78 games as a member of the R-Phils.

Overbeck describes playing for new R-Phils manager Mark Parent as a plus for the club this season, as Reading has jumped out to a 17-10 start and is tied for first place in the Eastern League's East division with New Hampshire. Overbeck credited the 13-year Major League veteran with helping the team achieve their early success this season.

"He's been in our shoes before and then to the big leagues, so that helps out a lot. He knows what it takes to get where we're trying to go. He expects a lot out of us and everybody enjoys playing for him and it's gonna benefit us in the long run," Overbeck said.

Overbeck, who has spent time at third base and first base this season and has begun working in the outfield, is a key contributor in the field as well as at the plate. This week, Parent spoke highly of Overbeck's abilities.

"He's got really good hands...his good hand-eye coordination is really good. When he gets to the ball, he's got outstanding pop. His defense- he can play anywhere. He's doing very well," Parent stated.

As buzz surrounding Overbeck grows, some folks have begun to wonder if he could continue to develop at the same rate as he progresses upward. Naturally, time will tell. But, while Overbeck stays focused on the job at hand, he can't help but ponder the same things.

"I'd like to continue at the pace I'm at this year, which might be hard. As far as the season goes, I'll just take it a couple games at a time. Of course, reaching the Majors is in my mind. I think it's in everyone's mind here."

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