Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Phillies' Only All Star Wants Out

GAME RECAP: Frazier Defeats Pederson 15-14

Todd Frazier had the joint jumping, his home crowd behind him screaming and exactly the right flair for the dramatic on Monday night. Not only did Frazier not disappoint, the Reds third baseman put on a tremendous show to win the Gillette Home Run Derby presented by Head & Shoulders at Great American Ball Park. The capper was a bonus-round shot into the left-field seats to defeat Dodgers rookie Joc Pederson, 15 homers to 14, in the finals as the stadium roared with approval and fireworks filled the sky. Frazier loved having the sold-out crowd in his corner all night. "Just hearing the crowd roar, call my name, adrenaline," Frazier said. "And those last minutes of each round really picked me up and [helped me] drive the ball out of the park a lot more. It was a lot of fun. I appreciate that a lot." Frazier, who was the Derby runner-up to Yoenis Cespedes last year in Minneapolis, became the first Reds player to win the Home Run Derby since Dave Parker won the first one in 1985. He is also only the second player from the host team to win, the first since the Cubs' Ryne Sandberg in 1990. Frazier was presented with the Home Run Derby trophy by MLB executive Joe Torre. "Bringing this hardware home is something I've always wanted to do and it's just an unbelievable feeling," Frazier said. "Once I wake up in the morning, understand really what happened, it is going to be exciting to see this in my house." The Derby caught its first break when rain held off until well after the event ended. Then new rules in place for 2015 added timed rounds of four minutes and an eight-player single-elimination bracket that proved instantly popular. That change played into Frazier's hands as he batted second in each round as the higher seed. Frazier, the No. 2 seed, defeated Rangers first baseman Prince Fielder in the first round and then knocked out Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson in Round 2. All three rounds required a lot from Frazier to overcome his challenger. Fielder hit 13 homers in the opening round. Frazier was able to equal the two-time winner with his 13th coming with seconds remaining, landing in the left-field seats. After a brief break before bonus time, Frazier crushed home run No. 14 on his first swing to defeat Fielder. "Two-time champion, that's huge," Frazier said. "The format fit well. I honestly didn't know how many I was going to need. Thirteen, in these Derbies now, usually gets you past. I started off slow and got into a little groove." In Round 2, Donaldson got off to a slow start, but he rallied to hit nine homers. He also knew he was not the crowd favorite. "Honest to God, I didn't even know who I was going up against in the second round, but after 30-40 seconds into it, I could start to hear people boo me," Donaldson said. "Then mid-swing, I was like, 'Oh, I'm going up against Frazier.' Good for them. He put on an awesome performance tonight." The crowd chanted "Let's go Frazier" as Frazier sat on eight homers with a minute remaining. But with 11 seconds to spare, homer No. 9 came, followed by No. 10 just as time expired, landing in the left-center-field bullpen as Reds fans screamed. Pitching to Frazier for the second time in the Derby was his brother, Charlie. The two tried to keep the flow going in all three rounds. "We wanted to work fast," Charlie Frazier said. "We didn't want to put any thinking involved. We just wanted to put as many pitches as we can. He was swinging at everything -- you could see that -- even if they were low or high. So we just got on the same pace." The left-handed Pederson set another high bar and opened the finals with 13 homers. Needing two to tie with 40 seconds left, Frazier hit one to left field for 13. He tied Pederson with 14 with 10 seconds remaining. On the first swing of his 30-second bonus came No. 15 -- and a perfect ending for Cincinnati. Triumphantly, Frazier lifted a championship belt like a wrestler. His favorite singer, Frank Sinatra, played in the ballpark -- "I did it my way." He did indeed, with panache. It's been a trying first half for the Reds, who are below .500 and struggling. Trade speculation of top players, but not Frazier, is rampant. For one night -- that was way in the background. Cincinnati fans had their winner right in front of them on what proved to be a magical night. "This is the way you play the game," Frazier said. "You play for your family, your friends because you love the game. Your fans are right behind you in your court. We're having a tough year this year, let's be frank. Still got a lot of games to go. That Wild Card can come real quick. You saw what the Dodgers did one year. You never know what's going to happen."

  • The Phillies don't have much history facing Fernandez, but one player who has enjoyed success off him is Freddy Galvis, who is 3-for-6. Chase Utley, who's on the DL, is 2-for-9.
  • The Marlins and Phillies will meet for their third series this year, and second in Philadelphia. Miami holds a 4-2 advantage in the season series.
  • Dee Gordon, Miami's All-Star second baseman, is not expected to go on the disabled list. The Marlins are aiming to reinstate third baseman Martin Prado (right shoulder) from the DL, and he's a candidate to be a short-term option at second beginning Friday.
After the All-Star break, the club returns home to open a three-game series against the Miami Marlins on Friday night. Left-hander Adam Morgan makes his fourth career start as he squares off against the Marlins' Jose Fernandez. Morgan is 1-2 with a 4.32 ERA in his rookie season. The Marlins' ace, who made both of his first-half starts in Miami, will open the second half against the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on Friday. Fernandez already has regained his old form, notching wins in each of his first two starts back from Tommy John surgery. While the hard-throwing right-hander has dominated at Marlins Park (14-0, 1.17 ERA) in his career, he has been vulnerable on the road, where he is 4-8 with a 3.93 ERA. He is 1-1 with a 4.91 ERA in his career in Philadelphia. The Phillies are starting the series off with rookie Adam Morgan, who is 1-2 with a 4.32 ERA in three starts. The lefty has 12 strikeouts in 16 2/3 innings, and this will be his second home start. He's lost back-to-back decisions on the road after opening his career with a 5 2/3-innings win over the Cardinals at Citizens Bank Park on June 21.


Papelbon Looking For A Trade… Again! – Vocal and effusive about his desire to be traded, Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon spent his sixth All-Star media day trumpeting his desire to move on from Philadelphia. "I want to go to a contender," said Papelbon, the Phillies' lone representative at Tuesday's 2015 All-Star Game presented by T-Mobile (7 p.m. ET, FOX). "I do want to get out of Philly, but I need to make a smart decision. I'll make a decision that's best for me to go to a place to contend to win a championship. That's basically what my whole decision is going to be based on." In many ways, the decision is not Papelbon's to make. The Phillies have been trying to deal their closer since before the 2013 non-waiver Trade Deadline, but so far, they have been unable to find a suitable match. Making $13 million this season, Papelbon owns a $13 million club option for 2016 that automatically vests if he finishes 48 games. He's on pace to do that, having gone 14-for-14 in save situations with a 1.60 ERA. He's certainly pitched well enough not only to earn his sixth All-Star nod, but to make himself a very intriguing option to clubs in need of relief help. Papelbon cannot negotiate his own trade. But he can veto deals with a partial no-trade clause, and he has said he would do so to avoid moving to a setup role or to a non-contending team. Other than that, Papelbon said he would like to part ways with the 29-62 Phillies. "This isn't what I signed up for," said Papelbon, who left the Red Sox for a four-year, $50 million deal with the Phillies before the 2012 season. "I signed up on a team that won 102 games, and was expecting certain things. Now, it didn't happen, and I tried to ride that ship as much as I can. I've tried to keep my mouth shut as much as I can. "I feel like three years is plenty enough time to 'ride it out,' so to speak. If fans can't understand it, I can't really side with them on that. I'm getting older and I don't know how many more years I have left in this game. I don't know how many All-Star Games I have left. None of that's guaranteed. For me, I'm just trying to be on a winning ballclub and win as many rings as I can before it's all said and done, and I'm coaching [son] Gunner in Little League. That's really all I'm trying to do. "From my perspective, I don't understand how a fan couldn't understand that. I understand that they wear their hearts on their sleeves and all that stuff, but for me, I'm in it to compete and to win. And I don't have that opportunity in this organization. And I also feel like I gave this organization as many opportunities as they can to put a winning ballclub out there and as many chances to keep me in this organization, and it just hasn't happened." If Papelbon has his way, a trade is what will happen -- and soon. For him, this All-Star appearance is simply continued validation that he can be more useful elsewhere. "I thought that I was going to come to Philadelphia and win two more rings," Papelbon said. "I honestly and truthfully did. And then the downward spiral happened, and it happened so quick. It's almost unexplainable."

Mid Summer Lineups – There have been years of waiting, and then more years of preparation, for their moment on one of the biggest stages of baseball. And now, the Reds and Cincinnati are ready to welcome the world to its home at Great American Ball Park tonight. It's just about time for the 86th All-Star Game presented by T-Mobile to showcase the talents of the 34-man rosters on both the National League and the American League. "It's fun to be around the city," said NL starting third baseman Todd Frazier, who won the Gillette Home Run Derby presented by Head & Shoulders on Monday night in front of his home fans. "The vibe out here is spectacular." The 2015 All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports (coverage begins 7 p.m. ET), in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 160 countries. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide exclusive national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network and SiriusXM will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com. During the All-Star Game tonight, fans can once again visit MLB.com to submit their choice for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet. Voting exclusively at MLB.com, online and via their mobile devices in the 2015 All-Star Game MVP Vote presented by Chevrolet, the fans' collective voice will represent 20 percent of the overall vote that determines the recipient of the Arch Ward Trophy. MLB.TV Premium subscribers will be able to live stream the All-Star Game via MLB.TV through FOX's participating video providers. Access will be available across more than 400 supported MLB.TV platforms, including the award-winning MLB.com At Bat app. The starting lineups were revealed by managers Ned Yost of the AL and Bruce Bochy of the NL on Monday. The AL lineup features all right-handed hitters, the first time that's happened since the NL had an all-right-handed lineup in the first of two All-Star Games played in 1962. AMERICAN LEAGUE: 1. CF Mike Trout, Angels; 2. 3B Josh Donaldson, Blue Jays; 3. 1B Albert Pujols, Angels; 4. DH Nelson Cruz, Mariners; 5. RF Lorenzo Cain, Royals; 6. LF Adam Jones, Orioles; 7. C Salvador Perez, Royals; 8. 2B Jose Altuve, Astros; 9. SS Alcides Escobar, Royals; P Dallas Keuchel, Astros. NATIONAL LEAGUE: 1. CF Andrew McCutchen, Pirates; 2. 3B Todd Frazier, Reds; 3. RF Bryce Harper, Nationals; 4. 1B Paul Goldschmidt, D-backs; 5. C Buster Posey, Giants; 6. DH Anthony Rizzo, Cubs; 7. SS Jhonny Peralta, Cardinals; 8. LF Joc Pederson, Dodgers; 9. 2B DJ LeMahieu, Rockies; P Zack Greinke, Dodgers. This will be the fifth time that Cincinnati, home of the first professional baseball franchise, has hosted an All-Star Game. It was held in 1938 and '53 at Crosley Field and in 1970 and '88 at Riverfront Stadium. Great American Ball Park opened in 2003, and it has undergone several upgrades and improvements in recent years to be ready for a game like this. "It's great. Most importantly, it's for the fans of the Reds and putting the city and the stadium on display to play the host," said Reds manager Bryan Price, who is a coach on Bochy's staff. "I think they're doing a fabulous job of hosting. I've never been in an environment like this." The All-Star Game will feature numerous familiar faces and perennial selections, and the pregame festivities will include the introduction of the "Franchise Four" selections by fans of the greatest players from each of the 30 teams. But this year's game also demonstrates the strength of the game's youth movement. Two of the Major Leagues' most popular players are 23-year-old Trout from the Angels and 22-year-old Harper of the Nationals. "[It's great] to see the impacting players that are so young, both NL and AL," Harper said. "To play alongside Anthony Rendon, Michael Taylor and the guys at my club, and then playing against guys like Kris Bryant, Manny Machado, Matt Harvey, Mike Trout. You can name so many guys in this league right now, and being able to play alongside them and really enjoy it, it's been a lot of fun." "It's special to see so many great players at such a young age," said Pederson, who finished as the runner-up to Frazier in the Derby on Monday night. "The Trouts, Harpers, they're dominating the game, [and Madison] Bumgarner, so it's definitely really special." Including Pederson, there were a combined 32 first-time All-Stars selected this year via the fan and player ballots or manager selections. "What got me over the edge was we have so many first-time All-Stars," said Yost. "I think this is such a wonderful experience. For me, if you become a Major League player, that's special. You're in an elite group, but you're in an even more elite group if you're an All-Star. It sticks with you the rest of your life." Yost selected Astros left-hander and first-time All-Star Keuchel to start for the AL, while Bochy chose the Dodgers' Greinke. Both managers talked about the challenges of making selections, which might be harder than running the game itself. "The talent that you have to work with makes it really easy for me and my staff," said Bochy, who is now a four-time skipper for the NL. "I think the game has changed a little bit. Your priority is not to get everybody in as much as it used to be. There is a lot at stake. I think guys are getting the two or three at-bats. They're getting stretched out a little more. There's a lot at stake in it. The tough part is the lineup. It does change a lot." Once again, the added meaning to the All-Star Game is the winning team's league gets home-field advantage for the World Series. Last year, that didn't put Yost's Royals over the top as they lost Game 7 to San Francisco at Kauffman Stadium. He still considered it to be beneficial and wanted the AL to keep home-field advantage this year. "It's going to be important to somebody in that locker room," Yost said. "I think it's important for everybody in that locker room to do our best to try and win that game and get home-field advantage for the World Series -- for whoever team gets there."

In Case You Missed It… – Former Toronto Blue Jays [and Philadelphia Phillies] pitcher Roy Halladay had his perfect driving record broken up by a police officer Tuesday [July 7, 2015] afternoon. Halladay had gone 38 years without a speeding ticket before his chance at a perfect driving record was ruined. Halladay was caught speeding Tuesday afternoon. He celebrated his first ever ticket with a selfie. Halladay's tweet was pretty respectful. He acknowledged that he was speeding, and added the hastag #protectandserve, implying that the officer was just doing his job. If the goal of the ticket was to discourage Halladay from speeding again ... well ... Yep, Halladay got pulled over by the same cop on the same day. We actually don't know why he was pulled over the second time, or if Halladay received another ticket. Either way, it's entertaining. Again, Halladay seemed to handle the situation well. He managed to make a joke about himself in the second tweet. It's pretty normal for people to be angry after being pulled over, so he appreciate that Halladay can laugh at himself despite having a bad day on the road. We don't feel particularly bad about Halladay losing his perfect driving record, though. He's already got a perfect game under his belt, and he can brag about that any day.

The Phillies are starting the season as expected and are now at the bottom of the NL east at 29-62. Given the departures, aging stars, injuries, and performance so far this season, this could end up being the worst team in franchise history! All time, the Phillies are 47-45-2 on this day.

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