John Kruk spent six of his 10 major league seasons with the Phillies. He coached in the organization’s farm system and was part of the team’s TV broadcast team in 2003.
After working as an analyst for ESPN the last 12 seasons, Kruk is back with the Phillies. He was officially named to CSN Philly’s broadcast team earlier this week.
“I’ve had so many people say, ‘Welcome back,’ but once you’re with this organization you never leave,” Kruk said at an introductory news conference Tuesday at Citizens Bank Park. “You’re always part of the Phillies family and even though I played for three teams I’ll always be a Phillie.”
Kruk, who turns 55 on Thursday, made it clear he was part of a retrenching at ESPN.
“Basically, they were cutting back,” he said. “They were cutting payroll.”
That allowed him the opportunity to bring his broadcasting career full circle. He joins Tom McCarthy, Ben Davis, Gregg Murphy and Mike Schmidt on the CSN Philly broadcast team. Kruk will do color on about 90 games.
“My wife said I’m too young to retire,” he said. “What else am I going to do? My God, if I sat around and ate all day ...
“This is something I should do. It’s going to be fun.”
Kruk has a working knowledge of the Phillies' roster from his time at ESPN. In recent months, he’s received more intel from bench coach Larry Bowa. Kruk and Bowa go way back. Bowa managed the San Diego Padres when Kruk was a young player with that club and was the Phillies' third base coach when Kruk was a key member of the 1993 National League champions.
“I’ve got the best resource in the whole world in Larry Bowa,” Kruk said. “Now, I can’t tell you the things he says about some of the players, but ... no, there’s going to be some studying, but I watch enough that it’s not going to be that hard. I’m going to rely on Ben and Tom and Murph to help me with pronunciations, but I’m Polish and from West Virginia, so there’s Strike 2 already.”
Kruk has probably done a little more studying about the state of the Phillies than he let on. He seemed clued-in on the team’s plan of building a young pitching staff then filling in with a free-agent bat or two once the team is ready to contend.
“They finally separated themselves from some long-term deals,” Kruk said. “It could be difficult this year, but I think the future looks really good because they’re going to be able to get what they need, hopefully. They need to get the young pitching up to where they can throw 180, 200 innings and if they get that we can try to convince someone to come here and play, right?”
Kruk was asked about his style as a color man.
Will he be critical of players?
“I’m going to take it for granted that if they screwed up they know it,” he said. “Ever since I came here in 1989, all anyone ever said is how knowledgeable the fans are, so if I sugarcoat something they’re going to know I’m being a little you-know-what.
“But I’m not going to go out of my way to bury someone. Look, I was here a week when I forgot how many outs there were and a guy scored from second while I’m jogging in from the outfield. I understand. I made every mistake you can make — on and off the field.”