Philes Game Chat: Kratz Kratz Kratz Kratz Kratz

Philes Game Chat: Kratz Kratz Kratz Kratz Kratz

Phillies beat-writers' crush Erik Kratz has been called up to the big squad to provide a right-handed bat off the bench while Jim Thome spends some time on the DL trying to rest his sore back. Our Minor League-loving friends over at Beerleaguer think it's a bench move that can give Charlie Manuel just enough flexibility.

Beerleaguer on Kratz: "He's not going to see a heck of a lot of playing time, but he's the best
guy for the job. Kratz, 31, was hitting .294/.333.549 over 53 plate
appearances with three home runs. With Ty Wigginton playing basically
every day now, and with John Mayberry trying to climb his way back, the
added right-hander isn't the worst thing in the world, and you could
argue that adding a third catcher gives Charlie Manuel just as much
flexibility off the bench as they were enjoying with a healthy Thome."

The Phillies will look to continue their recent winning ways and attempt to get above the .500 mark on the season this evening with Roy Haladay (3-2, 1.95) taking on right-hander Tommy Hanson (3-2, 3.00).

The Phils haven't won three games in a row yet this season. No time better than the present, especially when you've got Roy throwing for you.

Doc took an L his last time out when he faced the Cubs when he gave up 3 earned on 6 hits over 7 innings of work. He does have real solid career numbers against Atlanta, however, going 4-1 against them over his career with a 1.78 ERA.

Also on the positive side, Cliff Lee reportedly had a pain-free bullpen session and could be back in the fold some time next week.

7:10 start time from Turner Field.

Sixers being cautious with Jahlil Okafor early in training camp

Sixers being cautious with Jahlil Okafor early in training camp

GALLOWAY, N.J. — The Sixers lost Jahlil Okafor for the final 23 games last season because of a small meniscus tear in his right knee. Now they are being cautious as he prepares for his second year.

As part of the Sixers’ prescheduled load management for Okafor, he participated in a portion of practice and then worked out individually with head strength and conditioning coach Todd Wright.

“They just told me to relax once I did what they wanted me to do today,” Okafor said. “I was off to the sidelines. I feel fine. I’ll be good tomorrow.”

Okafor learned during his first NBA season that he should speak more openly with the staff about his body.

“Communication is key,” he said. “I think last year I didn’t really communicate how I was feeling, so I wasn’t able to get the help I needed.”

The team held three practice sessions in the first two days of training camp. Okafor said he knew the Sixers would be cautious with his workload. He is poised to improve upon his rookie year in which he averaged 17.5 points and 7.0 rebounds in 53 games last season.

“I’m 100 percent healthy,” he said. “I’m all good.”

Joel Embiid adjusting to new challenges in 1st NBA training camp

Joel Embiid adjusting to new challenges in 1st NBA training camp

GALLOWAY, N.J. -- With Joel Embiid's excitement to be on the court following two years of injuries comes the reality of his lengthy setback.

Embiid is participating in his first NBA training camp this week. While he has impressed with his natural abilities and improved skills, Embiid is facing challenges as he gets accustomed to the league.

"Everything is kind of off right now as far as catching the ball or shooting," Embiid said after practice Wednesday. "I've still got to get in the flow of the game."

Embiid has yet to play since being drafted in 2014. For the past two years he has worked out individually and in controlled settings. Practices, even in training camp, are different. 

"You see all the time when you realize he hasn't played basketball for a long time," Sixers head coach Brett Brown said. "He's trying to gather his feet and find his balance, he's trying to figure out stuff in real time speed on defensive assignments and rotations."

On Wednesday, Embiid went through practice without any minute restrictions and was feeling healthier from the cold and virus he had been battling (see story). Teammates have praised his physical presence and eagerness to compete. He makes an impact with his 7-foot-2 presence alone, but there is more he wants to improve. 

Embiid is adjusting to the speed of the game. He has been facing challenges with getting the ball in the post and spoke to the coaches about his frustrations. The staff explained they are focusing on pick-and-roll defense and getting out to run during training camp, but he will get that desired location in game situations. 

“You continue to see the size of Joel Embiid,” Brown said. “He's a big man and he's got a mindset to back up his physical gifts. He really wants the ball. He wants to get deep catches. He wants to dunk on people.”

Embiid always has been realistic about his transition to his rookie season. He has pointed out many times that he is a fast learner, and is anxious to soak up new knowledge and apply it to the court.

"It's really frustrating," he said. "But like I've said, you've got to trust the process, which I've been doing."