Here is the first pitching schedule for the beginning of the Grapefruit League schedule:
- Wednesday vs. Toronto: Roberto Hernandez, Jeff Manship, Antonio Bastardo, Brad Lincoln, Jake Diekman, Kevin Munson and Phillippe Aumont.
- Thursday @ Toronto: Cliff Lee, Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, B.J. Rosenberg, Mario Hollands and Mike Stutes.
- Friday vs. Detroit: Kyle Kendrick, Sean O’Sullivan, Justin De Fratus, Aumont, Luis Garcia and Cesar Jimenez.
- Saturday @ Yankees: Ethan Martin, David Buchanan, Munson, Jeremy Horst, Shawn Camp and Ken Giles
- Sunday vs. Pirates: A.J. Burnett, Jesse Biddle, Jonathan Papelbon, Bastardo, Lincoln and Diekman.
One agent: “As of today, Phillies are out. Phillies are not getting into any more of our households. We’re shutting down all communications”
— Aaron Fitt (@aaronfitt) February 20, 2014
Ruben Amaro Jr. declined comment this morning when asked about a Baseball America report the organization turned in two college players to the NCAA for rules violations.
Amaro said he could not comment because it is an open investigation.
The Phillies drafted Oregon State left-hander Ben Wetzler in the fifth round and Washington State outfielder Jason Monda in the sixth round of the 2013 First-Year Player Draft. Neither signed. Baseball America reported the Phillies told the NCAA in November the players violated its “no agent” rule. College players are not allowed to hire agents before they sign, but it is widely known and accepted they use an adviser to help them negotiate before the signing deadline, otherwise it would be a college athlete negotiating on his own.
The NCAA has made Wetzler ineligible to play. It recently reinstated Monda.
Amaro directed questions to Phillies assistant general manager Marti Wolever, who declined comment to Baseball America.
“(Monda) agreed to the draft and then just changed his mind; he just decided to go back to school,” Wolever said after the draft.
The Baseball America report is receiving attention for a couple reasons. First, high draft picks often decide to stay in school and reenter the draft at a later date. But teams very rarely contact the NCAA for a player having representation. Second, there could be repercussions for the Phillies. If they draft a college junior in the future, he might have reservations about negotiating with the Phillies because of fears about being turned in to the NCAA if he does not sign.
He is happy in retirement.
It helps he remains part of the game, which could become a full-time venture in the future. Halladay is in Phillies camp as a guest instructor, where he is imparting his philosophies about pitching to some of the organization’s younger and less established pitchers. The hope is some of them listen, pick up a thing or two and use some of his suggestions and ideas to help a pitching staff that ranked as one of the worst in baseball last season.
“I love being here,” Halladay said this afternoon at Bright House Field. “I definitely want to keep doing it. I think maybe this first year, I want to make sure that I get to spend the time that I want with my boys and my wife, and that’s my priority. Once I see how things work, yeah, I’d love to continue to do it and if I have more time, do more. I’ll always continue doing it. It’s just a matter of starting to figure out how much I can do. Once the kids are gone, maybe it’s something to do full time.”
Halladay spent more than 30 minutes yesterday with top Phillies prospect Jesse Biddle, discussing the mental aspects of pitching and handing him a copy of “The Mental ABC’s of Pitching” by Harvey Dorfman, which Halladay credits for helping saving his big-league career.
Halladay, who once went from the big leagues to Class A before establishing himself as one of the best pitchers of his generation, has given the book to pitchers in previous springs, too.
“Obviously, it works,” Biddle said. “Just to hear what he has to say about the little things in the game I’m trying to learn and figure out, you can’t really ask for a better guy. His story is something they tell us when we start playing here. We’re taught about it. No matter how tough it gets, you can always bounce back. As long as they give you the ball, you can bounce back. But to hear him discuss it personally with me is pretty cool.”
Halladay has spoken to more than just Biddle. He is introducing himself and making himself available to everybody.
“The stages they’re at now it’s just a mental part and really it’s just confidence,” Halladay said of pitchers like Phillippe Aumont, Jake Diekman and Jonathan Pettibone. “They are very good at what they do, but there’s just that extra confidence that you see in every day Major League players opposed to maybe a guy at Triple-A or Double-A. I’ve been trying to help them speed that up by starting to think about the mental parts and preparing themselves and getting themselves ready to start. Really brainwashing themselves into thinking that’s something they can do consistently. That’s really what it takes. Some guys need to have that success first, but in the things I’ve seen a lot of guys can start to believe that and they talk themselves into that over and over and suddenly they become it. That’s something I’ve talked to some of them about.
He is behind schedule after feeling discomfort in his left shoulder in November. He said he could open the season on the disabled list, but if he does he does not expect to miss much time.
Right-hander Mike Adams is throwing off flat ground two more times before he could throw his first bullpen session Feb. 27. He is behind schedule following right shoulder surgery in July.
He said he would be pushing it to be ready by Opening Day on March 31.
“I would love to be ready for Opening Day, but I’ve got to do what’s best for myself and best for the team. I want to make sure I’m there for the long haul and not rush myself out there and do something that’s not smart. I’m thinking early to mid-April might be more realistic. Once I’m ready to go, I don’t want to have no more setbacks or go on the DL or anything. If it’s late April, it’s late April. Do what’s best.”
Jonathan Papelbon spoke with reporters this afternoon at Bright House Field, and he had plenty to say about leadership, positivity, negativity and his performance on the field.
Much of the conversation centered on his attitude and influence in the clubhouse. It is no secret he wasn’t a happy man last season (examples HERE and HERE). He also didn’t dominate the ninth inning like he had in the past. A combination of those things are why the Phillies actively tried to trade him, not only before the July 31 Trade Deadline, but during the offseason. The Phillies simply felt he no longer fit into their clubhouse. But finding no takers for the $50 million closer, Papelbon returned to camp saying he plans to be a more positive influence in 2014.
Of course, he said similar things in Spring Training 2013, so we will see.
Here are some highlights from his meeting with reporters:
Q: Can you talk about the start of another spring training? Is your attitude different?
A: This year, I’m definitely trying to be a lot more of a positive influence and be more upbeat. It starts from Ryno. It starts from our manager in encouraging us to stay positive and be upbeat even though the last two seasons didn’t go as expected for myself and the rest of the guys in that clubhouse. This spring training is a big, big difference, just in the first few days. There is a lot more upbeat positivity. It’s night and day, it really is.
Q: Is it a reflection of Ryne Sandberg?
A: Every morning we have a meeting and Ryno. He talks about energy and spark. Bringing it every day. Last year and the year previous, we didn’t have that. We were losing games and I feel like we let losing get to the best of us. I let it get to me just as much as anybody. That’s a tough thing to do. As an athlete, we come out here and prepare and put so much hard work into it. When it doesn’t pay off, it’s a hard thing to deal with.
Q: Were you not a positive influence last year?
A: I’m just speaking for myself and nobody else. At times, when you lose 12 games in a row and you’re in Detroit and you say you didn’t come here for this, that gets spinned in a couple of directions. For me, I didn’t come here to lose. I came here to win. I came here to win a world championship. I don’t take losing very well. The one thing I can say that does upset me is a lot of you guys here — not pointing anyone out — took that as I’m a bad teammate, which is definitely not true. I’d break my back for my teammates. I’d do anything. They’re my brothers. I’m with them more than my family. If you could ask all 25 guys in there, I live and die for my teammates.
The Phillies announced this morning they have signed Burnett to a one-year, $16 million deal, which includes a mutual/player option, bonuses and a limited no-trade clause.
Burnett will speak to reporters after today’s workout at Carpenter Complex.
“To be able to add a pitcher of A.J.’s caliber at this time of year says a lot about our ownership group’s commitment to winning,” Ruben Amaro Jr. said in a statement. “A.J. will complement Cole (Hamels) and Cliff (Lee) in our rotation and adds another experienced arm to our team.”
If everybody is healthy, Burnett, 37, projects to slot atop the rotation with Hamels and Lee. Burnett went 10-11 with a 3.30 ERA in 30 starts last season with the Pirates. He led the big leagues in ground-ball-to-fly-ball ratio (2.62), which should help at cozy Citizens Bank Park. Burnett also led the National League with 9.8 strikeouts per nine innings. He has made at least 30 starts for the sixth consecutive season.
“I have met him quite a few times when he was with Toronto,” Hamels said last week. “He’s got unbelievable talent. Unfortunately, I think he kept us away from another ring [in the 2009 World Series]. What he brings to the table is great. If we’re able to get him, it only helps us out. It doesn’t hurt us. He’s another veteran who has good experience and a good repertoire. I know he is pretty charismatic. He would be good for us.”
Burnett’s $16 million salary could push the Phillies to a franchise-record payroll following an 89-loss season in 2013. They finished 2012 at a record $174.5 million, according to figures sent from the Commissioner’s Office to teams for luxury-tax purposes. That figure includes the average annual value of contracts, more than $10 million for benefits and extended benefits, bonuses and more.
Figure Burnett’s $16 million salary into the mix, and the Phils’ payroll alone is about $174 million, with the luxury-tax threshold now at $189 million.
So why Burnett? The payroll actually might have something to do with it.
The Phillies already are heavily invested in players like Hamels, Lee, Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jonathan Papelbon, Jimmy Rollins and others. The front office believes if the team is healthy, it will win. If that is the case and the Phils are all-in, why not spend more to improve the rotation?
The rotation had its share of concerns following Hamels and Lee, and now Hamels is behind schedule after feeling discomfort in his throwing shoulder around Thanksgiving, which resulted in left biceps tendinitis. Hamels said he is not worried, is pain-free and expects to be pitching in a regular-season game in April.
Kyle Kendrick had a 6.45 ERA in his final 14 starts last season before finishing the campaign on the disabled list with a shoulder injury. Roberto Hernandez signed a one-year, $4.5 million deal in December, but he has a 5.19 ERA over 67 appearances (59 starts) the past three seasons. Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, Jonathan Pettibone and others will also be getting looks as starters this spring.
Burnett will wear No. 34, which Roy Halladay wore the past four seasons.
To make room for Burnett on the 40-man roster, left-hander Joe Savery has been designated for assignment.
“Our reports were good when we saw him, so he’s going to sign somewhere,” the general manager said.
Interesting because Amaro said Madson is going to sign somewhere, not necessarily with the Phillies. If the Phils were in the thick of negotiations or seriously interested, Amaro typically would have much less to say.
There could be a reason for that. Sources said Madson has been telling teams he is looking for a guaranteed Major League contract. That might be too much for the Phillies to handle, considering they just signed A.J. Burnett, but most importantly because Madson has not pitched in a big league game since 2011 because of right elbow surgery.
The Phillies emailed the following statements from people who knew Jim Fregosi, who died this morning.
“Jim Fregosi will be deeply missed in the baseball world. Joni and the rest of the family are in our prayers. Fregos, was the best manager I’ve ever played for. Our relationship was so special….and he was the one that taught me how to be a leader. Fregos and I could relate to each other whether we were in the clubhouse or on the field. In 1993 The City of Brotherly Love changed the world…..Fregos was the driving force!!!” - Darren Daulton
“Jim Fregosi was not only one of the most respected men in baseball, he was a great man. He was a player’s manager. He had that special gift as a manager that made you want to get to the field and play your ass off for him. Jim Fregosi was the reason that 1993 was one of the most exciting years in Philadelphia sports history.” - Lenny Dykstra
“Jimmy was the perfect manager for our team. He knew exactly when to leave us alone and exactly when to jump our asses when it was needed…and along the way he became our friend.” - John Kruk
“Jimmy was the best manger I ever had the honor of playing for. He was a man who was happy every time in ever saw him. My career was less than spectacular, but would have even been more mediocre if not for Jim. The word that defines him best is trust! He trusted everyone to do their jobs. I was a manager’s nightmare, but Jim trusted that I would get the job done. He made all his players better because his trust gave us confidence. He would hand me the ball in the 9th and go up the tunnel and smoke and say let me know when it’s over. He trusted me. He once said that ‘Mitch doesn’t have an ulcer, but he is definitely a carrier.’ I loved Jimmy and his wife Joni. They both lived to be happy. I can’t express the sorrow I feel for Joni, and Jimmy’s 5 kids. He was like a father to me, and I was just a player. I can only imagine the kind of father he was to his own kids.” - Mitch Williams
“I am deeply saddened today about the news of Jim Fregosi. He was a dear friend, and father figure to me throughout my baseball career. He gave me my first opportunity to play in the Major Leagues and taught me how to be a professional baseball player on and off the field. My prayers go out to Joni, Jim, Jr. and the rest of the Fregosi family. He was a great baseball man and he will be missed severely.” - Mickey Morandini
“Playing for Jim Fregosi was like playing for your Dad, except he always claimed I was older than him. He was a tremendous manager and a huge reason the 93 team was as good as it was. He will be sorely missed and our thoughts and prayers go out to Joni and the kids” - Larry Andersen
“The thing about Jim is he was your friend but there is a line that you don’t cross when he is the manager and everyone knew the line. He was the best manager I had played for! I will never forget him and what he gave me in the short period of time we were together.” - Danny Jackson
“I don’t know what I can say about Jim Fregosi that anybody in baseball doesn’t already know. WHAT A GREAT AND KIND MAN! I can tell you what he meant to me: He was always honest with me and spoke in a way that made me feel so confident in what I was doing. He always believed in the ability that I had. He made baseball FUN!!!!” - Tommy Greene
“What a great leader. Jim led a group of guys who weren’t supposed to do anything to a National League Championship. He wasn’t afraid to tell a player the truth and I respected him for that. He will be missed.” - Milt Thompson
“Jim was a man’s man and a player’s manager, but most importantly he was a great friend.” - Dave Hollins
“Not only was Jim a great players’ manager to play for, but he was also a father figure to all of his players. He not only cared about you on the field, but he cared more about how you and your family were doing off the field. He was a special man. He will be deeply missed. God Bless his soul and my condolences to his family.” - Ricky Jordan
“I couldn’t have asked for a better first manager in the big leagues. Jim was the master at dealing with different clubhouse personalities. From the biggest to the smallest. Even though I was a rookie in 1993, Jim made me feel like a veteran from the first day I was called up. Jim wanted his players to succeed, not only to help the team but he understood that baseball was a career choice and he would have done anything to help you on that path. He will be missed.” - Kevin Stocker
“Jim was a great baseball man and a special friend. He will always be fondly remembered for his handling of the Phillies 1993 team that made it to the World Series.” - Dallas Green
“Jim was someone everyone enjoyed being around. He was a very smart man with a good sense of humor and a tremendous love for his family. He will be thought of and missed by his many friends, both in and out of Major League Baseball. My wife, Doris, and I pass along our condolences to his family.” - Pat Gillick
“Jimmy was a very good friend of mine. I loved talking baseball with him because we shared a lot of the same philosophies about the game, especially when it came to managing, and we both care deeply about the Phillies. I’m going to miss him and our fishing trips together. Missy and I send our thoughts and prayers to his family.” -Charlie Manuel
“Jimmy was a man who loved life, his family and the game of baseball. He had many opinions and loved a good argument. In many ways, he was a larger than life character with a tremendous, self-deprecating sense of humor. When asked how the Mets could have traded a young Nolan Ryan for him, he would bellow, ‘What were they thinking. Didn’t they know I was done’! We’ve lost a good friend. Our game has lost a great ambassador.” - Chris Wheeler
“Lee Thomas brought Jim and I on board in 1989 and it is a friendship that I’ve valued for the past twenty-plus years. Jim’s magnetism and larger that life personality drew people to him. And, along with that outgoing spirit, Jim possessed a genuine sense of kindness and generosity. Today, we remember not only a good baseball man, but also a great human being.” - Ed Wade
“There are so many memories of Jim. Probably the one that stands out happened in the Executive Dining Room at the Vet years ago. We were having lunch before a trade announcement. I brought up some questions he may get asked. He slid his reading glasses to the end of his nose, looked me in the eye and said, ‘Baron, I don’t need your coaching.’ My response was simple, you’re right.” - Larry Shenk
If there is a Man of Mystery in Phillies camp, a Mr. X, an unknown, it is Miguel Gonzalez.
The right-hander defected from Cuba last year before he agreed in July to a $48 million deal with the Phillies. But something happened during his physical and the parties ultimately agreed to a three-year, $12 million contract. He seemed to be destined for a top spot in the Phillies rotation, but the Phillies have lowered expectations for him because they said nobody really knows what kind of pitcher he might be.
Factor in the imminent arrival of A.J. Burnett and he could open the season in Triple-A Lehigh Valley.
“I’ve got more to prove to myself than anyone else,” Gonzalez said of his Mystery Man status. “Once I prove it to myself, everyone else will be able to see it clearly.”
Gonzalez said he started throwing bullpens Jan. 6 and feels 100 percent healthy.
“There is more speed, more movement,” he said. “I can tell I’ve progressed.”
Cole Hamels is expected to open the season on the disabled list, but he could be back before the end of April. Once he is healthy, Hamels, Cliff Lee, Burnett and Kyle Kendrick will take the top four spots in the rotation. The Phillies signed Roberto Hernandez to a one-year, $4.5 million contract in December. He is the heavy favorite for the No. 5 spot because Gonzalez, Jonathan Pettibone and others in camp have options.
“Those are decisions that are out of my control,” said Gonzalez, asked if he sees himself in the rotation come Opening Day. “I’m going to do my best to do that, but that (decision) is out of my hands.”
He said he would pitch in the bullpen, if needed, but Ruben Amaro Jr. said he is best suited pitching regularly in a rotation.
The Phillies released right-hander Chad Gaudin after he failed his physical.
“We didn’t feel comfortable with the exam yesterday, so we decided to let him go,” Ruben Amaro Jr. said.
The Phillies signed Gaudin to a Minor League contract. He had a good chance to make the team as a swing man, but now the Phillies must find somebody else for that role.
“It hurts,” Amaro said. “The roles he could fill as a long guy that can sit around for 10 days and not pitch then pitch as a starter … all those things you’d like a veteran guy to do. We’re going to have to find out if that guys in our camp.”