Sunday, March 20, 2016

Phillies Get Unexpected Day Off

Phillies get unexpected day off due to rain.

Saturday's scheduled starter, Phillies right-hander Jeremy Hellickson (0-0, 4.50 ERA), will start Sunday's 1:05 p.m. ET game against the Astros at Bright House Field, which will air on MLB.TV. The Phillies have made no announcement, but Hellickson or Aaron Nola will start Opening Day. At the moment, Hellickson is on schedule to make that start. Watch the game live on MLB.TV.


Roster Getting Close To Completion – The Phillies took batting practice Saturday morning at Bright House Field, which is customary whenever they play the Blue Jays in a Grapefruit League game on an afternoon in Dunedin, Fla. But 45 minutes after they boarded the bus for the short drive to Florida Auto Exchange Stadium at around 11:30 a.m., they learned the game had been canceled because of rain. Saturday's scheduled starter, Phillies right-hander Jeremy Hellickson, will start Sunday's 1:05 p.m. ET game against the Astros at Bright House Field, which will air on MLB.TV. Before the cancellation the Phillies announced they had reassigned first baseman Brock Stassi to Minor League camp and optioned infielder Taylor Featherston to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. The move leaves 48 players in camp, not including injured outfielder Aaron Altherr and injured left-hander Matt Harrison. Stassi, 26, hit .240 (6-for-25) with one double, two RBIs, three walks and five strikeouts this spring. Featherston, 26, hit .100 (2-for-20) with one home run, three RBIs, five walks and six strikeouts. "I'm happy with the way a lot of things went," Stassi said. Stassi won the Eastern League Most Valuable Player Award last year after hitting .300 with 32 doubles, one triple, 15 home runs, 90 RBIs, 77 walks and 63 strikeouts with an .863 OPS in 133 games. He impressed folks with his defense this spring, but he will have to continue to hit this year to earn a promotion to the big leagues. Stassi left camp believing he can make the final jump. "Even growing up my dad always preached 'respect everyone, but fear no one,'" Stassi said. "I feel like I fit in over here. I don't know, it definitely was a confidence booster. Force the hand and prove myself. Nothing has ever been given to me in this game. I've had to earn everything. It's nothing new. Just got to keep handling my business and hopefully one day be back over here."

Former Site Now Historic Landmark – The Phillies have played Grapefruit League games at Bright House Field since 2004, but Clearwater has been their Spring Training home for 70 years. They helped the city commemorate its long Spring Training traditions Saturday, when the city unveiled a Florida Heritage Site marker at the former site of Clearwater Athletic Field. The field had been the Spring Training home of the Brooklyn Dodgers, Cleveland Indians, Phillies and other professional baseball teams from 1923-56. "When you reflect on the history of the sport in Clearwater, we've been here forever -- 70 years," Phillies chairman David Montgomery said. "Babe Ruth came here in his last year in '48. Robin Roberts was so impressed to have him here at Athletic Field he … made a fellow grab a ball and had Babe Ruth sign it for his mother. So this represents not just Phillies history, but baseball history." Fire destroyed the field's grandstands in 1956, although by that time the Phillies had moved to Jack Russell Stadium two blocks away. The Phillies played Spring Training games at Jack Russell from 1955 to 2003. But the Phillies still had rookies practice at Athletic Field once Jack Russell opened. Those players nicknamed it "Iwo Jima" because of its rock-covered field. "We had an old wooden clubhouse with about three or four nails on it for your clothes and that was about it," former Phillies pitcher and manager Dallas Green said. "The infield was a little rough. Guys were getting bad hops left and right." The North Greenwood Recreation and Aquatic Complex now stands on the site of Athletic Field, but now at least folks who walk past will know the spot has some baseball significance, too.

Today In Phils History - It was on this day in 1914 that the Killefer saga officially began as the Federal League filed an injunction against the Phillies stating that the catcher had signed a contract with the league and had already accepted payment. In 1943 a New Yorker, William Cox (who was later named club president), lead a group to purchase the Phillies from the National League for roughly a quarter million dollars. 1990 saw an abbreviated spring training as MLB owners finally ended a month long lockout on this day. Lastly, happy 75th birthday to former Phillies player, coach and manager Pat Corrales. 

The Phillies have begun the spring with a 12-5-2 record (13-5-2 if you include the exhibition game against the University of Tampa). With the Phillies having finished the 2015 season with a spectacularly awful record of 63-99 it will be interesting to see what kind of team new President Andy MacPhail and GM Matt Klentak put on the field. At the same time I am definitely looking forward to the games against Boston with former GM Ruben Amaro on the field. Given the departures, lingering contracts, a history of injuries, bipolar performances, and unproven talent, it should, at the very least, be an interesting season for the Phillies. Who knows, maybe they can avoid 100 losses... hopefully by more than one game!

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