Spring Training TV Schedule
Mar. 5, World Baseball Classic, 1 p.m., CSN
Mar. 6, Nationals at Phillies, 1 p.m., TCN
Mar. 7, Twins at Phillies, 1 p.m., TCN
Mar. 12, Tigers at Phillies, 1 p.m., TCN
Mar. 14, Pirates at Phillies, 1 p.m., TCN
Mar. 17, Orioles at Phillies, 1 p.m., CSN
Mar. 19, Yankees at Phillies, 1 p.m., TCN
Mar. 22, Braves at Phillies, 1 p.m., TCN
Mar. 26, Rays at Phillies, 1 p.m., TCN
Mar. 28, Blue Jays at Phillies, 1 p.m., TCN
Mar. 29, Blue Jays at Phillies, 7 p.m., TCN
BRADENTON, Fla. — There is not going to be too many battles for jobs on the Phillies’ pitching staff this spring. The good part about that is it allows the players to settle into routines where they don’t have to look over their shoulders for some young upstart looking to make an impression.
And with the dearth of battles for jobs, the Phillies have been remarkably healthy this spring. Compared with how camp progressed the past few seasons when Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Cole Hamels battled injuries, there have been no dark clouds hanging over the Phillies this year.
It’s a pretty nice change, manager Charlie Manuel admitted.
“We’ve worked hard. The last three days we’ve started to swing the bats better and we started to play better. Things are starting to go well,” Manuel said. “We’re healthy. We’re playing everybody to see what we’ve got. I like the way our camp has been run so far.”
In Monday’s 5-0 victory over the Pirates at McKechnie Field, the Phillies continued to impress on the mound and at the plate. Interestingly, the Phillies were particularly good at the plate even though they had just nine singles in the game.
What’s so great about a bunch of singles?
Well, they were mixed in with five walks and a couple of hit batsmen. In the game-breaking second inning, the Phillies drew three bases-loaded walks and scored a fourth run on a single. In the fourth, the Phillies scored a run when Ben Revere singled, stole second and moved to third on a throwing error by catcher Michael McKenry. A few pitches later, Revere scored when Michael Young grounded out.
Small ball, personified.
“Right now at the plate we’re starting to really get going, if you want to know the truth,” Manuel said. “It could get even better tomorrow. We’re swinging the bats, we’re working counts and we’re playing good together.”
Even the Phillies’ pitchers benefited from the long innings at the plate. That’s because one of the more difficult tasks in getting ready for the season is getting used to spending time in the dugout between innings and then going back to the mound to pitch. For lefty starter John Lannan, the long, 10-batter second inning proved to be the perfect practice for him in preparing for the up-and-down nature of pitching.
“That’s what you kind of want. It means we’re scoring runs,” Lannan said. “It’s good to practice that now and keep the legs going, so it was good to have that long rest. It was difficult, but something to get used to.”
It also allowed Lannan to work closely with veteran catcher Humberto Quintero, who likely will start the season on the big league roster with Carlos Ruiz serving a suspension. In addition to working on the nuances of pitching, Lannan says it’s important to build a working relationship with the catchers.
“I was just trying to get on the same page as Quintero. That’s the first time I ever threw to him in a game,” Lannan said. “I like to have a rapport with all of them. Every catcher is different, so I like to have a relationship with them because you’re calling the game with them.”
With injuries and battles for jobs, the little things tend to get lost. For the 2013 Phillies, it’s the little things that have been the main focus.
Adams ‘close to being ready’
The Phillies blew open the 5-0 victory over the Pirates with a four-run second inning where Quintero, Revere and Utley worked bases-loaded walks against pitchers A.J. Burnett and Kris Johnson.
That second inning provided all the offense needed because the Phillies’ pitchers kept the door shut all afternoon.
Lannan, Mike Adams, Adam Morgan and Raul Valdes combined to pitch a one-hitter in the victory and issued just four walks to the Pirates. Lannan allowed the lone hit with two outs in the first inning when a ground ball to first base by Travis Snider slipped past Howard and rolled to the fence.
It appeared to be a play that Howard could have made.
Lannan walked two hitters in his three innings and was followed by a shutout inning from Adams, three from lefty Adam Morgan and two more from lefty Raul Valdes.
Afterwards, Manuel was most impressed by the newly acquired Adams.
“Adams looked good,” Manuel said. “Our pitching looked good, but Adams looked real good.”
In his second outing of the spring, Adams pitched a perfect fourth inning. He picked up a strikeout to go with a couple of fly balls and seemed to be in midseason form with his mechanics and repertoire of pitches.
“I feel good,” Adams said. “Everything is coming along the way I expected and the way I hoped. It feels like my arm strength is getting better every outing and I’ll try to carry this the rest of the month.
“The main thing for me this spring is to get my mechanics down and get that consistency.”
Adams has a distinct pitching motion, featuring a lot of movement with his arms and legs. When he makes his pitch it appears as if the ball is exploding from his uniform and because of his stuff, he’s extremely difficult to face.
According to Adams, there are no tricks or secrets to his delivery.
“That’s the way I throw,” Adams said. “It’s not like I tried to manipulate my delivery. I go with what feels right. With all that goes on in my delivery, I’m talking about repeating that delivery over and over again. Whenever you have a lot going on, it’s sometimes difficult to repeat it. That’s what I’m trying to do — find a rhythm and repeat it pitch by pitch.”
Regardless, Manuel knows hitters will have a tough time in facing Adams because of his motion.
“I think his command counts a lot.” Manuel said. “I think that he shows you a lot of motion. He slings a lot at you. If you’re watching his movement or his motion that will definitely go against you as a hitter. Stuff-wise, he has big stuff.”
At the plate
Revere, Yuniesky Betancourt and Michael Young each had a pair of singles for the Phillies, while Young added two RBIs.
Additionally, Darin Ruf played all nine innings in left field and reached base three times. Ruf drew a walk and was plunked by a pair of pitches.
The Phillies face the Dominican Republic team for this month’s World Baseball Classic at Bright House Field on Tuesday. Hamels, Jonathan Papelbon, Ethan Martin and Jonathan Pettibone are scheduled to pitch for the Phillies.
And yes, Howard is expected to be back in the lineup again on Tuesday.