Results tagged ‘ Ryne Sandberg ’
Jonathan Papelbon’s fastball never hit more than 91 mph in the ninth inning today at Wrigley Field, but he threw a clean inning to pick up his first save of the season and bury the nightmare of Wednesday’s blown save in Texas.
“This is what I chose to do,” he said following the 2-0 victory over the Cubs. “I take the ups with the downs. For some reason I enjoy it. I don’t know why. It’s a roller coaster ride. I liked Space Mountain as a kid, you know what I’m saying?”
Ryne Sandberg said Wednesday that Papelbon needed to mix his pitches better, which he said was addressed in between appearances. He said he noticed some improvement today.
It will be important moving forward. In the past, Papelbon could rear back and blow a 95 mph fastball past hitters.
“I think I need to do more pitching,” Papelbon acknowledged. “If that’s what that means, yeah. The longer and longer I pitch I think the more and more I learn, so sometimes I need to be a pitcher more than a thrower. I get into that mode sometimes, just going out there and throw by guys or throw a pitch without a certain intent.
“You know, as the season goes on, hopefully my velo will be able to increase. I think everybody usually hits their peak around June. But right now I’m going to focus on just pitching.”
You knew the Phillies would not score 14 runs every night — they needed 81 games to reach 10+ runs in a game last season — and if they planned to win they would need to win close games like the one they lost last night.
It is why Ryne Sandberg drilled fundamentals into his players’ heads in Spring Training. It is why they said they valued versatility and defense when they finalized their bench.
The Phillies would need to play soundly to make up for any lack of pop offensively.
Of course, they also would need to pitch well.
It is just two games, but the Phillies bullpen isn’t off to a great start. They have allowed six hits, four runs, six walks and have struck out six in 6 1/3 innings. They have allowed three of six inherited runners to score. (They finished 29th in baseball last season, allowing 36.2 percent of inherited runners to score.) Sandberg already has leaned twice on left-handers Jake Diekman and Antonio Bastardo and right-hander B.J. Rosenberg. He also chose rookie left-hander Mario Hollands to face the top of the Rangers lineup in the bottom of the ninth last night rather than use one of his more experienced right-handers. Hollands, who was making his big league debut, walked two of the three batters he faced (the left-handed Shin-Soo Choo and Prince Fielder) before Rosenberg entered and allowed the game-winning hit to Adrian Beltre.
“I’m just using the guys in the ‘pen,” Sandberg said, asked if he is experimenting to find the best relievers for the best roles. “They’re here for a reason. They’re here to pitch. … It’s not experimenting at all. It’s putting them in the best situations to pitch and be successful.”
Theoretically, Sandberg could have used a righty to face the bottom of the lineup in the eighth and have Bastardo pitch against the top of the lineup in the ninth, but he said he wanted his best reliever (other than closer Jonathan Papelbon) to keep the game tied with a chance to win in the ninth.
“Bastardo is our eighth-inning guy,” Sandberg said.
Rosenberg has allowed three of four inherited runners to score in his first two appearances. Brad Lincoln, who was a lock to make the bullpen before Spring Training opened in February, and Justin De Fratus are still looking for their first action.
“Coming out of Spring Training, he was throwing the best, as far as throwing strikes and doing the job as a seventh- or eighth-inning right-hander pitcher,” Sandberg said of Rosenberg.
Relievers are going to blow leads and blow games. It happens in every bullpen. But the margin for error for the Phillies is small. They will need an effective bullpen to have a chance this season. This isn’t the start they wanted.
The streak ended at 665 games Tuesday at Globe Life Park.
Ryne Sandberg dropped Howard to fifth against Texas left-hander Martin Perez. Marlon Byrd hit fourth, splitting up the left-handed-hitting Chase Utley and Howard. Sandberg split the lefties with Byrd four times in Spring Training, a strong indication he would make the move in the regular season.
“He’s the manager,” Howard said. “I don’t make the lineup. Whatever the lineup is, that’s what the lineup is. As far as spots and stuff, wherever my name is, that’s where I’m supposed to hit.”
Sandberg made other platoon-type moves, playing John Mayberry Jr. in left field and Jayson Nix at third base instead of Domonic Brown and Cody Asche, respectively.
“I’ve talked with him about it,” Sandberg said about Howard. “I’ve talked to him a couple of times about that, the reasons for it. I noticed in the Spring Training games – I think he had four or five – two of those games he had two hits and he had one hit in the other. So he had some success there. The fifth spot is still an RBI spot with men on base. It’s a power spot. It’s still a good spot for him regardless.”
Howard deferred to the manager when asked about the change.
But does he have a preference?
“I don’t know,” he said.
There are reasons for the adjustment. The Phillies ranked 22nd in baseball last season against lefties with a .679 OPS, a number which must improve. Byrd had a .959 OPS against lefties last season, which ranked 13th out of 173 qualifying players in baseball. Meanwhile, Howard has a .602 OPS against lefties from 2011-14, which ranks 203 out of 213 qualifying players.
“Yeah, it’s noteworthy,” Howard said. “But at the same time … I’m not even going to go there. I really have nothing to say about it. I’m going to stay away from all of that. Just try to keep everything on the up and up. You say the wrong thing and then all of a sudden … people just misconstrue or whatever. That’s not what I want to have happen.”
ESPN’s Buster Olney had a very interesting tweet and story today about Rollins, who was benched three consecutive games last week because Ryne Sandberg had a problem with him:
Sources: There is strong sentiment within PHI organization right now that the team would be better off trading shortstop Jimmy Rollins ASAP.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) March 18, 2014
Olney then noted, “Jimmy Rollins, of course, cannot be traded without his consent, because he has 10-5 rights.”
Yes, there are folks who have grown tired of Rollins. But then the Phillies also signed him to a three-year, $33 million extension following the 2011 season, despite no evidence any other team in baseball offered him more than a one-year deal. Rollins’ deal includes an easily attainable club option for 2015, which essentially makes this a four-year, $44 million contract. The Phillies handed him this contract, despite knowing his shortcomings, knowing they had Freddy Galvis waiting in the wings and knowing Rollins’ production had declined the previous three seasons. His .720 OPS from 2009-11 ranked 144th out of 181 qualifying players, and 14th out of 25 qualifying shortstops.
They committed big money to him anyway.
Two important things to remember here:
Jimmy Rollins spoke to reporters this morning following Ryne Sandberg’s interesting “no comment” yesterday, when asked about the positivity and energy he has brought this spring. Rollins has not played since Monday. He was in Tuesday’s lineup, but was scratched that morning. He did not play yesterday and he is not in the lineup today.
Rollins is healthy.
Here is some of what he said this morning:
Q: Why do you think you’re not in the lineup today? It’s unusual for a starter.
A: Yeah, I don’t know. You’ll have to go ask the manager. I don’t write the lineup.
Q: Do you think it’s unusual, though?
A: Oh, it is unusual. Yes, but I’m not going to try to second guess or predict or come up with a reason why.
Q: So yesterday Sandberg is asked about Freddy Galvis. He says he loves his positivity and energy. The next question is how has Jimmy been in that regard this spring? He gives a no comment. What do you make of that? Does that bother you?
A: Well, everyone is allowed to have their own opinion. It doesn’t make it right, but he’s the manager so he gets to have the last say.
Q: What’s your relationship with Ryne so far?
A: It’s good. We talk. Except for the last two days we talk every day. We talk about baseball behind the cage when we’re doing our hitting drills. I let people challenge me throughout situations and have fun. No one has a problem with that.
Q: When would you want to talk with Ryno about this?
A: Whenever he comes to me.
Q: Do you think there’s a method to this? Do you think he’s trying to light a fire under you or something?
A: I don’t know. I don’t know. There’s no fire that needs to be lit, though. Never has been, especially when things count.
Galvis went 1-for-2 with a triple, walk and RBI in today’s 6-5 victory over the Orioles in a Grapefruit League game at Ed Smith Stadium. Galvis has started at shortstop the past two Grapefruit League games, and is scheduled to start there a third consecutive game tomorrow against the Yankees at Bright House Field. Asked before the game about Rollins’ string of absences, Ruben Amaro Jr. said he is unaware of any health issues.
So is everything OK with Rollins or is he just getting a break?
“No, he’s fine,” Sandberg said.
Asked if Galvis could push Rollins for playing time this season, Sandberg said, “Freddy’s a guy that will get playing time at various positions. He’s a guy that I like in the lineup. I feel good about what he brings to the table. The biggest thing I like is his energy and his positive influence. His positive influence on everybody that’s around him.”
And what he has thought about Rollins in that regard this spring?
“No comment,” Sandberg said.
Then they scored just one run and picked up just six hits in today’s 8-1 loss.
“It’s March 10,” Ryne Sandberg said afterward. “It’s also a Spring Training atmosphere. Some guys are two at-bats, three at-bats and out. Sprinkled with days off in there, kind of a choppy schedule for guys. We’re still seeing everybody, giving everybody ample at-bats. Maybe it’s hard for guys to get into a groove and get into a rhythm. Guys are seeing the ball, getting their eyes adjusted. That could come into play. But when I look at the potential of the lineup and the potential bats we have together, I see an offense that has potential of doing some things. I put a lot on it being March 10.”
Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman stepped to the plate today and the Phillies stepped to the right side of the infield.
They employed a defensive shift against Freeman, which has been a rarity for the Phillies in the past. According to Baseball Info Solutions, the Phillies shifted just 45 times last season, which ranked 29th in baseball. More and more teams recognize the value of a defensive shift, which is why Ryne Sandberg said the Phillies will shift more in 2014.
“We’re going to play with it a little bit,” he said after today’s 2-2 tie with the Braves at Bright House Field. “Once we get our charts and everything, make a decision; sometimes it may be dependent on the game.”
Sandberg said the Phillies discussed using the shift more during the offseason. The Phillies will use video and spray charts on hitters, which show where they hit the ball against right-handed and left-handed pitchers. They also have charts on their own pitchers, which will tell them where hitters seem to hit the ball when they are on the mound.
“The option will also be provided to the starting pitcher, that type of a situation, according to how they’re going to pitch,” Sandberg said. “So it will be coordinated. … We’ll be smart with it and do what makes sense. It’s something that’s grown and the information is there. Teams have had some success doing that, so that’s something to think about and apply.”
Do the early losses bother Ryne Sandberg? It is just one week of Spring Training, after all.
“Absolutely,” he said. “I don’t like losses. You like to win games. It seems like in some of these games it’s been a one-inning type of thing. A crooked number in one inning. But our offense hasn’t come alive to overcome a crooked number by the other team. Six hits tonight, the two-run homer by (Marlon) Byrd and then we’re quiet after the third inning. So a lot of zeroes up there on the offensive side.”
The Phillies finished the night hitting just .194, which is the worst mark in baseball this spring.
But it is just one week of games. Countless players have had poor springs and played well during the regular season, so not much can be read into it.
“It seems to me like we get the bases loaded every game and don’t get anything out of it,” Sandberg said. “We get two guys on and we don’t get anything out of it. It’s about getting a big hit in an early Spring Training game like this. It seems like we haven’t had too much offense later in the games. It’s something we have to work on. With more at-bats usually the guys start swinging the bat better.”
Maikel Franco has impressed the Phillies early in camp.
Erik Kratz talks about going on the Phillies cruise after the Phillies traded him, and Larry Andersen and Scott Franzke go Western with bolo ties.
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.