Phils Beat Pirates in Tune Up As Players Have Some Fun with Fans

Phils Beat Pirates in Tune Up As Players Have Some Fun with Fans

Raul Ibanez was working a sausage cart midway
through the seventh inning. Cole Hamels was talking on random fans'
cell phones. Shane Victorino was busy playing on the slide in the
playground inside the ball park. Chase Utley was working the bar in the
Diamond Club.

The only guy at Citizens Bank Park last night who seemingly put in a full night's work was the Phillie Phanatic.

As for the baseball, the Phillies scored more runs than the Pirates,
8-5 to be exact. Luis Castillo reached base four times and increased his
chances of making the team. Ben Francisco hit a solo home run, ringing
the bell in Ashburn Alley for the first time all season in the process.
Roy Oswalt worked on his fastball placement. And perhaps most
importantly, the team adjusted to the frigid temperatures last night in
Philadelphia after spending well over a month in sunny Florida.

"The ball feels kind of cue ball-ish, I guess you could say. It
didn't really feel like it had a lot of seams on it. Coming from 85
degree weather to 30-35 degrees," Oswalt said.

Roy admitted to being a little wild on Tuesday night, but when asked
if he thought he was ready for the season, he said he "better be," and
that he feels a lot better after battling a stiff neck as a result of
getting hit with a liner down in Clearwater.

Charlie Manuel said after the game that he's not worried at all about
Oswalt's shoddy spring numbers, that he's just glad to have a healthy
Oswalt to start the season.

As for the differences this spring for Roy, going through camp with
the Phillies as opposed to the rest of his career in Houston?

"A lot more sellouts in spring traning this year," Roy said with a
smile. "It's been fun. The guys on the staff are great. Shoud be a fun
year."

After one exhibition game at Citizens Bank Park played in frigid
conditions, I think it's safe to say it's only gonna get funner.

*

Katherine Scott shows some of the fun at the ball park. Of course Shane Victorino went down the slide.

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."