Results tagged ‘ Milt Thompson ’

Phillies Contact Boras

boras.jpgRuben Amaro Jr. said Monday the Phillies would call Scott Boras before the end of the week.

They’ve called.

And?

“There’s really not much to say,” Amaro said. “We’re not going to have a public discussion with what’s happening with Jayson (Werth), but we have touched based and we’ll see where it goes from here.”

It has been speculated Boras, who Werth hired as his agent last month, could seek a contract in the neighborhood of the seven-year, $120 million contract outfielder Matt Holliday signed last winter with the St. Louis Cardinals. If Boras cannot land that, Werth could fall somewhere in line with the four-year, $66 million contract outfielder Jason Bay signed last winter with the New York Mets.

Either way, it is believed Werth will not be back in 2011. The Phillies have nearly $145 million committed to 16 players next season, and Amaro said during Monday’s news conference he needs to inject some youth into the roster. With every other starter under contract and expected back next season, the only place the Phillies could get younger in the lineup is right field.

The Phillies have exclusive negotiating rights with Werth until five days after the World Series, but it is almost a certainty there will be no agreement before then. Boras certainly will test Werth’s value on the open market.

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Former Phillies hitting coach Milt Thompson interviewed Thursday for the same job with the Seattle Mariners, according to his agent.

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The Zo Zone is on Facebook and Twitter. My Phillies book “The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly” is available online, and at Delaware Valley bookstores!

Phillies Fire Thompson, Gross Takes His Place


milt thompson.jpgIn a surprising, but not entirely shocking move, the Phillies fired hitting coach Milt Thompson tonight.

Greg Gross, who served as Larry Bowa‘s hitting coach from 2002-04, will take his place.

“It’s part of the business,” Thompson said tonight in a telephone interview. “I ain’t even mad. If somebody else can get them going and they can get in the playoffs this year that would be great.”

It certainly is fair to ask if Thompson is a scapegoat for the team’s hitting woes. Thompson, who had been the team’s hitting coach since 2005, had worked with some of the strongest offenses in Phillies history. The Phillies finished second in the National League in scoring in 2005, his first season as hitting coach. They finished first in scoring in 2006 and 2007, second in 2008 and first again in 2009.

They have struggled this season, but it certainly has not helped that Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Placido Polanco and Carlos Ruiz have missed significant time because of injuries.

“I did all I could,” Thompson said. “They’re just not responding this year. A lot of injuries and everything. We just couldn’t get it going. I’m not considered the scapegoat. I’m serious. I work hard. I know that I’m good at what I do. I’ll just move on and do it somewhere else.”

Thompson said the Phillies told him they wanted a new voice.

“I can’t get mad at that,” Thompson said. “If they want somebody else in there they think can get these guys going and we’re in the middle of the season and we still have a shot, that’s fine.”

Asked what he thought hurt the Phillies this season, he said, “I think the injury bug really has been a hard thing. I’m not going to be the first one to make excuses, but we’ve had our Opening Day lineup on the field eight times. You miss Jimmy. He’s back for a couple days then he’s gone again. The next thing you know, Polly is out. Now Chase is out. It’s just been one of those years. In order for a team to be successful and have a good year you can’t have a lot of injuries.”

So I asked Thompson how a new voice can change that?

“I can’t explain that,” he said “I can only go by what they told me. They want a new voice. You’ve got to allow them to do that. I’m not upset. I worked hard for the Phillies. I did the best I could.”

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The Zo Zone is on Facebook and Twitter. My Phillies book “The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly” is available online, and at Delaware Valley bookstores!

Breaking Down Howard

howard 0824.jpgIn case you missed it, you should read Tom Verducci‘s story on Ryan Howard.

The gist: Howard saw more breaking balls last season than any hitter in baseball, and 49 percent more than any other left-handed hitter. He saw left-handed pitchers in 35.8 percent of his plate appearances, compared to the average left-handed hitter, who saw them 18.5 percent of the time. Howard also got a breaking ball 39.7 percent of the time, 57 percent more often than the average player.

Howard’s percentage of breaking pitches also has jumped every year since he reached the big leagues: 20.54 percent in 2004, 21.34 percent in ’05, 29.17 percent in ’06, 33.62 percent in ’07, 31.49 percent in ’08 and 39.66 percent in ’09. He saw breaking balls an astounding 57.4 percent of the time against the New York Yankees in the ’09 World Series, when he struck out a Fall Classic-record 13 times.

So what’s the cure?

“I don’t want to speak about Ryan, but usually most hitters, if they make the adjustment to the pitch, they are less apt to see as many,” Pirates manager John Russell said. “Any pitcher is going to try to exploit any weakness of any hitter, especially a big power hitter. Most times with notorious power hitters, you try to pound them in and go soft away. At least that’s what it’s been since I’ve been around.”

Milt Thompson said he plans to set up the pitching machine, put Howard in the cage during the days he does not play in the Grapefruit League and let him see breaking balls.

One after another.

Over and over and over.

“We have to let him see them if he is going to see a lot of them,” Thompson said. “He looks good right now. I think he’s going to be fine.”

Both Thompson and Charlie Manuel said the best antidote to the breaking-ball diet is patience.

Howard must wait for a good pitch to hit.

Howard has not walked more than 81 times the previous two years.

“He should get 150, easy,” Thompson said.

“I know he can hit them,” Manuel said. “When he stays on them, he can hit them. When he hit .313 in 2006 and had 58 homers, he hit breaking balls, sliders, changeups. As long as he follows the ball, tracks the ball and stays on it … as long as he keeps his balance, he can make contact. I’m not worried about it, because he will find a way to hit those. He can hit them. He’s already showed me that he can.

“But I don’t want to talk to him about walking. I want to talk to him about getting good balls to hit. If he gets good balls to hit, he will walk. It’s like telling Jimmy Rollins to walk more. Jimmy Rollins is a good hitter. I want him to get good balls to hit. Don’t swing at high fastballs out of the strike zone and things like that. Howard is a big strong power hitter. The walks will come if he gets good balls to hit and works the count.”

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Brad Lidge said this morning he hopes to start throwing to hitters soon.

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Shane Victorino is not on the travel roster to Tampa to play the Yankees tomorrow afternoon. Otherwise everybody else is headed to George M. Steinbrenner Field.

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The Zo Zone is on Facebook and Twitter. His Phillies book “The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly” is available online, and at Delaware Valley bookstores!

Howard Is Back


Thumbnail image for howard large.jpgRyan Howard
stepped into the visitor’s clubhouse at Tropicana Field today to find Shane Victorino and Milt Thompson using socks as makeshift masks to protect themselves from the scary viruses Howard has been carrying the past few days.

Howard rejoined the team today after twice spending time in the hospital over the weekend with acute sinusitis.

He is in the starting lineup tonight against the Rays. He will DH.

Chris Coste will play first base.

“Am I 100 percent?” Howard said. “No, but I’m a lot better. I’d probably say about, 75, 80 percent. Right now it’s just mostly congestion. Those two days really helped as far as getting better.”

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