Hunter Pence Grateful for Opportunity to Win in Philly

Hunter Pence Grateful for Opportunity to Win in Philly

There was quite a buzz about the arrival of Hunter Pence in Philadelphia this afternoon, in the Phillies clubhouse particularly. The addition of the coveted right-handed bat brought more media than usual, all interested in seeing Pence's first moments at Citizens Bank Park.

"What is this, a party?" one typically vocal Phillies player quipped.

Camera men eventually moved outside, lining the outside of the Phillies dugout, setting up at just the right angle to catch the perfect shot of Pence walking through the corridor from the clubhouse to the field for the first time.

After what seemed like forever waiting on the hot field, there was a rumbling coming down the hallway.

It wasn't Pence, but it was the first sign of the newest Phillie finally arriving.

"He's coming! He's coming!"

It was Ryan Howard's 10-year old son Darian, wearing his very own Phillies cap, carrying a baseball glove of his own.  The youngster appeared acutely aware of the hubbub being made over the newest Phillie.

Minutes later Pence finally walked out to plenty of applause from the gathering of fans over the Phillies dugout. He said some hellos, introduced himself to his new teammates, and quickly went out to his new home in right field to shag some fly balls.

Later, when addressing the media, Pence seemed thrilled to have the opportunity to man right field in Philadelphia.

"Most everyone knows that this is a baseball city, a very big sports city," Pence said in his welcome-to-town press conference.

"Roy [Oswalt] and Brad [Lidge] told me that there's nothing like it -- the crowds, the fans, they're extremely passionate. It's a packed house I think 150-some games in a row. That says something about the atmosphere every night. They just said 'You're in for a treat. Have fun. Go play some baseball.'"

180 sell outs in a row to be exact (193 if you count the playoffs). But we'll let that one minor error slip.

"It's a relief to finally know where I'm at," Pence said. "I'm happy that I found a good home, a place where people want me and we have an unbelievable team around me. I'm excited."

Charlie Manuel and teammates seemed just as excited.

"From what I've seen of him, we couldn't have gotten a better guy," Manuel said of Pence before tonight's game against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Another guy who was thrilled about Pence's arrival was former teammate Roy Oswalt, who spent plenty of time on the middling Astros with Pence over the years. Oswalt thinks Pence's great character will help him absolutely thrive in his new setting in Philadelphia.

"I think he'll take off, I believe he'll feel the atmosphere here, coming to play in front of 45,000 people that are into the ball game. It's gonna add that much more to his game," Oswalt said

The Phillies got the guy they seem to have wanted all along. Their roster seems all but set for an exciting postseason run. Hunter Pence is excited to be here, and he's ready to deliver a few historic moments to the Philly faithful.

"Now I'm in a place where they really want me, where we got a chance to do something special, to create some historic moments for Philadelphia and the game of baseball. It's an unbelievable opportunity and I couldn't be more grateful."

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Placido Polanco is also in the lineup batting seventh this evening when James McDonald (7-4, 3.95) takes on Cliff Lee (9-7, 3.05). First pitch scheduled for 7:05

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Here's video of Pence before tonight's game:

Vince Velasquez feels the heat in Phillies' Sunday loss to Pirates

Vince Velasquez feels the heat in Phillies' Sunday loss to Pirates

BOX SCORE

PITTSBURGH --- Vince Velasquez wasn’t able to stand the heat Sunday afternoon.

The game-time temperature was 89 degrees with humidity to match at PNC Park. The Phillies' right-hander admitted he didn’t handle the weather well.

"You're going to go through various conditions, and it's something that you've got to really take into consideration -- to really lock in, stay hydrated because it can mentally drain you,” Velasquez said. “It kind of took a toll on me but I have to make the best of what I've got.”

Velasquez wound up pitching six innings in the blistering heat but did not factor in the decision as the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Phillies 5-4 on pinch-hitter Adam Frazier’s leadoff home run in the seventh inning, his first in the major leagues, off fellow rookie Edubray Ramos (see Instant Replay).

Velasquez had his worst of his five starts since coming off the disabled list June 26, allowing four runs and seven hits while walking four and striking out five. He threw 107 pitches, 64 for strikes.

In his first four outings after begin activated, he was 3-0 with a 1.88 ERA to raise his record to 8-2.

“Just looking at his body language, he showed that he was struggling to find the strike zone,” Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. “He didn't have his best location. He did a good job; he just made a couple bad pitches when they scored the two runs. Obviously, he wasn't at his best, but he kept us in the game.”

While that kind of outing can breed confidence in a 24-year-old pitcher, Velasquez took no consolation in it. He was bothered about not being able to hold a 4-2 lead in the bottom of the sixth inning, giving up a tying two-run home run to Matt Joyce.

“I knew it was my last inning when I went out there and I have to be able to close it out there,” Velasquez said. “I’m disappointed in that. I need to be better in that situation.”

Joyce’s blast came on pitch after Starling Marte doubled on an 0-2 pitch. That, too, annoyed Velasquez.

“That's just a matter of finishing at-bats,” Velasquez said. “You've got to lock in on 0-2 counts when you're ahead. You've got to finish the at-bat. Knowing that that was my last inning, that's where you have to bear down and give it all you've got.”

Ramos then gave up the game-winning homer to Frazier an inning later, the first long ball given up by the 23-year-old right-hander in 14 career outings. The Phillies wound up losing two of three games in the series and are 3-7 since the All-Star break to drop to 10 games under .500 at 45-55 through 100 games.

“It’s a game we should have won but I put us in position to lose it,” Velasquez said.

Dallas Cowboys bus involved in fatal crash in Arizona

Dallas Cowboys bus involved in fatal crash in Arizona

KINGMAN, Ariz. -- Four people were killed Sunday when bus carrying Dallas Cowboys staffers but no players collided with a van on a northwestern Arizona highway.

The fatalities were passengers in the van, Arizona Department of Public Safety spokesman Quentin Mehr said. But the bus occupants emerged uninjured.

"All on the bus came through OK with some bumps and bruises," Cowboys spokesman Rich Dalrymple (DAHL'-rimp-ul) said in an email.

Dalrymple said the bus was only carrying members of the franchise's staff but would not say how many. There were no players on board.

The two vehicles collided in the afternoon on U.S. 93, about 30 miles north of the city of Kingman, according to DPS.

The crash shut down at least one lane of the highway that serves as the main route between Phoenix and Las Vegas.

The bus was on its way to a Dallas Cowboys fan event in Las Vegas. Charles Cooper, manager of GameWorks entertainment center in Vegas, said the session with 50 to 75 fans was scheduled for 3 p.m. PDT. People were already waiting when the president of a Las Vegas Cowboys fan club called to relay news of the accident. The event was subsequently canceled. Cooper says the team mascot was supposed to appear.

After the Las Vegas stop, the bus was scheduled to go on to Oxnard, California for the team's training camp. Members of the organization typically take a bus two weeks before the camp starts and make stops along the way.

Report: Phillies preparing for possible Jeremy Hellickson trade to Marlins

Report: Phillies preparing for possible Jeremy Hellickson trade to Marlins

Jeremy Hellickson may be staying in the NL East past the trade deadline. 

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported that the Phillies are scouting the Marlins' minor league teams in advance of a possible Hellickson deal. 

This comes on the heels of a report from a radio host in Miami that Marlins starter Wei-Yin Chen may need Tommy John surgery. Chen left with an elbow sprain during Wednesday's loss to the Phillies and was placed on the disabled list. Ironically, Chen was starting against Hellickson, who will face Jarred Cosart in place of Chen on Monday.

Hellickson's value rebounded significantly this season after struggling in Arizona and Tampa Bay the last few seasons. After dealing with a shoulder injury, Hellickson pitched to ERAs above 4.50 in each season from 2013-15, leading to the Diamondbacks trading him to the Phillies for limited value. 

However, in 20 starts, Hellickson, who will be a free agent after the year, has anchored the Phillies' rotation, bringing a 3.84 ERA over 119 ⅔ innings into Monday's scheduled start. He also has a nearly career-best strikeout rate and has regained his signature command that made him a strong performer with the Rays.

The Phillies are aided this trade deadline by a lack of starting pitching options available on the market. With many teams in contention looking for an additional starter, Hellickson is an attractive piece who could help a team in a pennant race.