Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Spring Training Game 28 - Phils Head North to Begin '21 Season

2019 Choice Williamsport
Crosscutters #27
Blue Jays 13
, Phillies 7
Spring Training Game 28 - Monday Afternoon, March 29th in Clearwater
Record - 12-15-1

One Sentence Summary:  The Phillies bullpen decided to pay tribute one last time to the 2020 team in this 13-7 drubbing by the Blue Jays in the final exhibition game of 2021

What It Means:  It wasn't pretty, but at least this spring training came to its natural conclusion instead of the sudden jolt of a stop we experienced last year.

What Happened:  Zach Eflin went five strong innings, allowing one earned run while scattering 8 hits.  The bullpen trio of Hector Neris, Jose Alvarado and Tyler Carr combined to allow 11 runs on 9 hits over 1 2/3 innings of work.  After starting the spring strong, Alvarado has looked Brandon Workman-like in his final few spring games.  The Phillies offense banged out 12 hits, led by solo home runs from Bryce Harper (his 4th) and Bryson Stott (his 1st).  Adam Haseley had two hits and a stolen base on the way to earning a spot on the opening day roster.

2021 Chachi Almost #5
Featured Card:  Stott, the team's top draft pick in 2019, looked good this spring and I'm looking forward to seeing him soon at Citizens Bank Park.  This is the first card of his I added to my collection, from the 2019 Williamsport Crosscutters team set.

Camp Head Count:  47 - 20 - 1 = 26.  None of the 20 mini-camp invitees made the club, including Odubel Herrera, so I'll subtract those 20 players from the tally.  C.J. Chatham (inf) was released to clear a spot on the 40-man roster, and non-roster invitees Matt Joyce (of) and Brandon Kintzler (rhp) had their contracts selected.  At this point, the only thing left to do is to clear another 40-man roster spot for Ronald Torreyes (inf) who also made the team.  That leaves Neftali Feliz (rhp) as the last remaining non-roster invitee and hopefully he accepts an assignment to the minor league camp.

Monday, March 29, 2021

Spring Training Game 27 - 2020 Topps Big League #234 Scott Kingery

Phillies 6
, Yankees 2
Spring Training Game 27 - Sunday Afternoon, March 28th in Clearwater
Record - 12-14-1

One Sentence Summary:  Zack Wheeler threw three scoreless innings in his final appearance of the exhibition season as the Phillies defeated the Yankees, 6-2.

What It Means:  After one final game on Monday afternoon, the Phillies will make the trip back to Philadelphia where they'll open the season on Thursday.

What Happened:  Wheeler struck out 4 in his outing and allowed only one hit.  The new and improved Phillies bullpen combined for six innings, allowing only 2 runs on 5 hits while striking out 10.  Vince Velasquez, David Hale, Archie Bradley, Connor Brogdon and Brandon Kintzler will all be in the 'pen to start the season.  A group of mini-campers came through in the seventh driving in three runs.  Nick Maton doubled home Matt Vierling who had hustled to reach on a ground ball to avoid a double play.  Luis Garcia then doubled home Maton, with Bryson Stott singling home Garcia.

Featured Card:  See below.

Camp Head Count:  53 - 6 = 47.  Or 27, if you don't count the 20 mini-camp invitees still around.  The Phillies haven't had very many surprising roster moves lately, but this one came as a bit of a surprise.  Scott Kingery (inf-of), JoJo Romero (lhp) and Rafael Marchan (c) were all optioned to minor league camp.  The Kingery move makes sense, as he's struggled mightily for over a year now.  This will allow him to get some regular at-bats and hopefully figure out what's going on.  The Romero move surprised me.  He's been a reliable and consistent reliever since last year's shortened season and his demotion leaves Jose Alvarado as the only lefty in the bullpen to start the season.

In additional moves, Rodolfo Duran (c) and Travis Jankowski (of) were reassigned to minor league camp and Christian Bethancourt (c) was released.

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Spring Training Game 26 - Only 2 More Grapefruit League Game Remain

2019 Choice Lehigh Valley
IronPigs #21
Tigers 9
, Phillies 8
Spring Training Game 26 - Saturday Afternoon, March 27th in Lakeland
Record - 11-14-1

One Sentence Summary:  The Phillies were cruising along with an 8-1 lead until the Tigers plated 8 in the bottom of the 8th and went on to a 9-8 win.

What It Means:  This was an ugly finish, but the Phillies relievers victimized in the 8th are all from the minor league camp and won't be heading north with the club.  David Parkinson, David Paulino and Zach Warren allowed 8 runs (all earned) on just 3 hits, a hit batter and 5 walks.  The Tigers were down 8-5 when Warren allowed three straight walks, two with the bases loaded.  Julian Garcia relieved Warren and gave up two more bases loaded walks to give the Tigers a 9-8 lead.

What Happened:  Before the 8th inning implosion, things were going well.  Aaron Nola threw 3 innings in his final spring tune-up, allowing a run on 3 hits while striking out 5.  Odubel Herrera had a big day at the plate, going 3 for 4 with a solo home run.

Darick Hall and Adam Haseley both came to the plate with the bases loaded in the fourth.  Hall tripled to clear the bases, and Haseley doubled to clear the bases again.

Featured Card:  JoJo Romero has had one the best springs of any Phillies reliever, and he pitched another scoreless inning in this game to reduce his spring ERA to 1.04.  He apparently also hit 99mph with his fastball at one point.  I'm looking forward to the return of minor league baseball, but I'm also excited to collect Phillies minor league team sets again in 2021.

Camp Head Count:  53.  The number held steady at 53, but the Phillies also announced that Michael Ynoa (rhp) had been released.  Ynoa had been sent to minor league camp on March 22nd.

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Spring Training Game 25 - 2021 Chachi Almost #4 Tony Watson

Blue Jays 6
, Phillies 5
Spring Training Game 25 - Friday Night, March 26th in Dunedin
Record - 11-13-1

One Sentence Summary:  The Blue Jays scored five late runs to defeat the Phillies under the lights in Dunedin, 6-5.

What It Means:  Again, it was great to watch this game (Blue Jays feed) but I'm anxious to get to the point where the games actually count.

What Happened:  Chase Anderson pitched well against his former team, getting the start and going 4 innings while allowing a run on two hits.  Bryan Mitchell (4 runs) and Neftali Feliz (1 run) were charged with the late-inning runs and the two relievers walked a combined 4 batters.  Mitchell also allowed a pair of Blue Jays home runs.  The Phillies scored four in the fifth on a Bryce Harper home run (his 3rd), a two-run double from Scott Kingery and an RBI-single from Ronald Torreyes.  Andrew McCutchen and Jean Segura each had multi-hit games with Torreyes contributing three hits.  If Brad Miller is injured at the start of the season, I would think Torreyes gets his roster spot.

Featured Card:  See below.

Camp Head Count:  55 - 2 = 53.  Two more pitchers were subtracted from the opening day mix on Friday with Tony Watson (lhp) requesting and being granted his release and Spencer Howard (rhp) optioned to minor league camp.  In 7 games, Watson pitched 5 innings and had a 7.20 ERA.  It was also announced that Matt Joyce (of) and Brandon Kintzler (rhp) had made the opening day roster.  While they've not been added to the 40-man roster yet, the Phillies cleared a space by placing Simon Muzziotti (of) on the restricted list.  Muzziotti has had visa issues and has yet to appear in camp.  With the 20 mini-campers still technically around, the head count of 53 can be broken up as 26 players currently on the 40-man roster 7 remaining non-roster invitees, and 20 mini-camp invitees.  The Phillies need to get down to 26 players by Thursday.

Friday, March 26, 2021

Spring Training Game 24 - 2021 Donruss #173 Bryce Harper

Phillies 13
, Yankees 12
Spring Training Game 24 - Thursday Night, March 25th in Clearwater
Record - 11-12-1

One Sentence Summary:  The Phillies prevailed in a slugfest against the Yankees in Clearwater, winning on a walk-off single from outfield prospect Johan Rojas.

What It Means:  There are only four more spring training games before the start of the regular season on Thursday afternoon, weather permitting.

What Happened:  Matt Moore looked shaky in this outing, allowing 5 runs on 6 hits over 3 2/3 innings.  He allowed long home runs to Aaron Judge and Gleyber Torres.  Jose Alvarado had his first rough outing of the spring, throwing three balls to the backstop and walking three before Joe Girardi mercifully ended to reliever's wild night.  And Enyel De Los Santos, who had also been solid all spring, got lit up for 6 runs in the ninth.  On the offensive side of things, Bryce Harper, J.T. Realmuto, Jean Segura and Rojas all had multi-hit games.  Didi Gregorius and Logan O'Hoppe both connected with three-run home runs.

Featured Card:  I had wanted to go with a Rojas card for this post, but I have yet to add any of his cards to my Phillies collection.  To date, he's only appeared on a few 2020 Panini releases.  I tend to generally stay away from the unlicensed Panini releases, but I do try to add a Donruss team set to my collection every year.  The 2021 Phillies team set arrived in my mailbox yesterday, and included two versions of Harper's card - this running version and another version with Harper at the plate.

2021 Chachi Almost #2
2021 Chachi Almost #3

Camp Head Count:
  57 - 2 = 55.  Veteran pitchers Hector Rondon (rhp) and Ivan Nova (rhp) both requested and were granted their releases yesterday afternoon.  Nova was a contender for the 5th or 6th starting pitcher spot, but with Zach Eflin apparently ready to go, his services were most likely no longer needed.  He went 0-2 with a 7.30 ERA over 5 games and 12 1/3 innings pitched.  Rondon made it into 8 games and had an ERA of 7.71 over 7 innings pitched.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Spring Training Game 23 - 2021 Chachi Almost #1 Jeff Mathis

Tigers 4
, Phillies 1
Spring Training Game 23 - Wednesday Afternoon, March 24th in Lakeland
Record - 10-12-1

One Sentence Summary:  The Phillies offense was relatively quite and starter Ivan Nova gave up four runs early in this 4-1 loss to the Tigers.

What It Means:  Opening day is a week from today.

What Happened:  Nova lasted into the sixth inning, giving up 4 runs on 10 hits.  JoJo Romero continued his hot spring, throwing 1 2/3 scoreless innings and lowering his ERA to 1.17.  Darick Hall had a pair of hits for the Phillies, and Luke Williams drove in the team's only run with an RBI-single in the second.  Scott Kingery (1 for 3, .139 average) and Odubel Herrera (1 for 4, .225 average) continued their struggles as spring training draws to a close.

Featured Card:  See below.

Camp Head Count:  58 - 1 = 57.  With J.T. Realmuto seemingly recovered enough to start the season, catcher Jeff Mathis requested and was granted his release.  I was disappointed to see Mathis go, as it would have been nice to have him in Lehigh Valley working with the team's young pitching prospects.  In 10 spring games, Mathis batted .207 (6 for 29) with a home run and hopefully he latches on with another team.  He receives the first Chachi Almost insert card of the year to mark his short time with the club.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Spring Training Game 22 - 2020 Topps Gallery #78 J.T. Realmuto

Blue Jays 9
, Phillies 3
Spring Training Game 22 - Tuesday Night, March 23rd in Clearwater
Record - 10-11-1

One Sentence Summary:  The Blue Jays' offense connected early and often against Phillies' starting pitcher Zack Wheeler as the Phillies lost, 9-3.

What It Means:  Wheeler's tough outing wasn't the big news here, rather it was the news of who was catching him.  J.T. Realmuto saw his first action of the spring, homering on his first swing of his season.  Realmuto caught six innings and was replaced by Edgar Cabral in the seventh.

What Happened:  Wheeler went 3 1/3 innings, allowing 7 runs (5 earned) on 6 hits.  He also had 5 strikeouts.  Archie Bradley threw two scoreless innings and Neftali Feliz made his spring debut throwing a scoreless ninth while striking out a pair.  Roman Quinn added a home run in the third, and Jean Segura singled home Realmuto in the sixth.  At this point, the only remaining starting line-up question mark is in center field, with Quinn, Adam Haseley and Scott Kingery all still in the mix.

Featured Card:  After a lengthy offseason when it seemed at times Realmuto would land with a division rival, and a thumb injury at the start of camp, it was wonderful to see the catcher's name finally in the line-up last night.  We'll be treated to Phillies baseball cards for the Best Catcher in Baseball for years to come.

Camp Head Count:  60 - 2 = 58.  I would expect the roster moves to come fast and furious at this point.  Mickey Moniak (of) was optioned out along with Ranger Suarez (lhp).  Moniak started off hot this spring, but then seemed to not get a lot of playing time.  I'd bet he'll be back up at some point in 2021.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Spring Training Game 21 - 2020 Topps 1985 Topps Baseball #85TB-AN Aaron Nola

Phillies 4
, Yankees 0
Spring Training Game 21 - Monday Night, March 22nd in Tampa
Record - 10-10-1

One Sentence Summary:  Aaron Nola hosted a pitching clinic against the Yankees "A" line-up, tossing six shutout innings in this 4-0 Phillies win.

What It Means:  Earlier in the day, Nola was named the team's opening day starting pitcher.  It will be his fourth consecutive opening day start, the longest streak for the Phillies since Steve Carlton pitched 10 straight opening days between 1977 and 1986.

What Happened:  Nola allowed 1 hit and struck out 9 in his best start of the spring.  Brandon Kintzler, Tony Watson, Hector Neris and Enyel De Los Santos kept the Yankees from scoring over the final three innings.  The Phillies scored their first two runs courtesy of an RBI-single from Rhys Hoskins in the third and an RBI-double (lost in the lights) from Jeff Mathis in the fourth.  Didi Gregorius hit a two-run home run off his former team in the seventh.

Featured Card:  I haven't added any 2021 Nola cards to my collection yet, but I still have plenty of his cards from 2020 not yet featured in posts.  Topps celebrated the 35th anniversary of its 1985 set last season with cards in the style of that set appearing as inserts in packs of 2020 Topps.

Camp Head Count:  63 - 3 = 60.  Before the game, the Phillies optioned Ramon Rosso (rhp) and reassigned non-roster invitees Bryan Mitchell (rhp) and Michael Ynoa (rhp) to minor league camp.  While there are still technically 60 players in camp, 20 of those are on the mini-camp invitee list.  29 players remain from the Phillies 40-man roster with 11 of the non-roster invitees still in the mix - some more than others.

Monday, March 22, 2021

Spring Training Game 20 - 2021 Topps #277 Alec Bohm

Tigers 5
, Phillies 3
Spring Training Game 20 - Sunday Afternoon, March 21st in Clearwater
Record - 9-10-1

One Sentence Summary:  The Tigers defeated the Phillies 5-3 in Clearwater.

What It Means:  This was the rare spring training game I completely missed as we were attending Doug's baseball try-outs.  It was nice to spend the day in the sunshine as we get closer to opening day.  Monday begins the last full week of exhibition games before the season officially starts a week from this coming Thursday against the Braves.

What Happened:  J.T. Realmuto was originally supposed to start and DH but was scratched due to lingering soreness in his thumb.  Chase Anderson, likely the team's number five starter to open the season, went 3 2/3 innings, allowing 4 runs on 3 hits while striking out 5.  Andrew McCutchen went 1 for 3 and made a nice diving catch in left field in the fifth.

Featured Card:  Third baseman Alec Bohm seems to be locked in and ready to go.  He went 1 for 3 with a pair of RBIs, raising his average to .323.  I suspect I'll have more cards from 2021 in my collection for Bohm than for anyone else, and this is one of five cards of his already in my newly-created 2021 Phillies binder.

Camp Head Count:  63

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Spring Training Game 19 - 2019 Topps Heritage High Numbers #639 Jose Alvarado

Blue Jays 3
, Phillies 1
Spring Training Game 19 - Saturday Afternoon, March 20th in Clearwater
Record - 9-9-1

One Sentence Summary:  On a spring-like day back north, the Blue Jays defeated the Phillies in Grapefruit League action, 3-1.

What It Means:  With regular play-by-play announcer Tom McCarthy covering the NCAA Tournament, this televised game was broadcast by the unlikely crew of Ricky Bottalico, Ben Davis and Ruben Amaro, Jr.  It was the second time this broadcasting trio had worked a game and . . . it wasn't bad?  Bottalico was a little too amped up at times for me, but I didn't have to mute the broadcast so I consider that a win.

What Happened:  Starting pitcher Matt Moore looked a little off in this start, and he ended up allowing a pair of runs on five hits.  Reliever Connor Brogdon also struggled, walking three in just a third of an inning.  The Phillies lone run came in the fourth when Roman Quinn reached on a perfect bunt single up the first base line and then Bryce Harper doubled him home.

Featured Card:  Phillies reliever (and potential closer) Jose Alvarado hit 101 on the radar gun in this game, while striking out the side in the seventh inning.  As Sarah Langs pointed out in this Tweet, Phillies pitchers have thrown one pitch at least that fast since the start of the 2016 season.  Seranthony Dominguez hit 100.9 mph on August 22, 2018 with Bryce Harper batting.  Alvarado is going to be fun to watch this season.

Camp Head Count:  63

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Spring Training Game 18 - 2020 Topps Heritage High Numbers #608 Reggie McClain

Phillies 4
, Yankees 1
Spring Training Game 18 - Friday Night, March 19th in Tampa
Record - 9-8-1

One Sentence Summary:  The Phillies were no-hit until the 8th inning, but scored four in the 9th to come away with a surprising 4-1 win.

What It Means:  With potential starting pitching candidates Zach Eflin, Spencer Howard and Vince Velasquez all ailing, the Phillies turned to Ivan Nova who did well against his former team.  Nova was wild, allowing three walks, but he gave up only a run in his three innings of work.

What Happened:  And the bullpen continued to look great, with Tony Watson and Brandon Kintzler appearing to have shaken off the troubles they each experienced recently.  Both threw scoreless innings with Kintzler striking out the side.  Enyel De Los Santos (2.08 ERA), JoJo Romero (1.80 ERA) and Sam Coonrod (1.80 ERA) were effective out of the bullpen too.

Yankees reliever Kyle Barraclough walked the bases loaded to start the ninth, and allowed the tying run to score on a wild pitch.  Former Phillie Reggie McClain relieved Barraclough and allowed the go-ahead run to score when he dropped the throw back from the catcher.  Darick Hall added a two-run double to give the Phils a 4-1 lead.

Featured Card:  McClain only pitched in five games for the Phillies in 2020, so I was pleasantly surprised when he received a card in the Topps Heritage High Numbers release.

Camp Head Count:  63

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Spring Training Game 17 - Phils Go Green; Wheeler Wins

Phillies 2
, Tigers 0
Spring Training Game 17 - Tuesday Afternoon, March 17th in Clearwater
Record - 8-8-1

One Sentence Summary:  Zack Wheeler and four Phillies relievers combined to shut out the Tigers in this 2-0 St. Patrick's Day win.

What It Means:  Having missed last year's St. Patrick's Day game due to the spreading pandemic, it was nice to see the Phillies once again don their green uniforms in celebration of the day.  See below for additional green posts throughout the history of this blog.

What Happened:  Wheeler threw five effortless shutout innings, striking out four.  The three pitchers currently in contention to be the team's closer then followed with three scoreless innings of their own - Hector Neris, Jose Alvarado and Archie Bradley.  David Hale completed the game, earning the save.

The Phillies scored both their runs in the fourth.  Odubel Herrera hit his third spring home run, and later Ronald Torreyes doubled home Darick Hall.

Featured Card:  I made a rare green parallel card for Wheeler to celebrate his outing and the holiday.

Camp Head Count:  63

Memory Lane
2010 - Mike Schmidt and the entire 1986 team go green.
2011 - Chase Utley models the green jerseys worn during Spring Training 2006.
2012 - A smiling card of Tugger and Roy Halladay models a green jersey.
2013 - Irish Mike Ryan's 1972 Topps card and Freddy Galvis in green.
2015 - David Buchanan pitches towards a spot in the starting pitching rotation.
2016 - Vince Velasquez pitched well and Ryan Howard hit his first spring home run.
2017 - Kendrick and Altherr homered while Venditte made his switch-pitching debut.
2018 - Santana hits his first spring home run in a win against the Braves.
2019 - Harper still hitless, Eickhoff sharp in his start.
2021 - Wheeler looks ready for the start of the season, Herrera homers again.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Spring Training Game 16 - 2019 Topps Heritage Minor League #9 Matt Vierling

Blue Jays 14
, Phillies 5
Spring Training Game 16 - Tuesday Afternoon, March 16th in Clearwater
Record - 7-8-1

One Sentence Summary:  The Blue Jays unloaded on Aaron Nola and two other Phillies relievers, easily winning this exhibition contest, 14-5.

What It Means:  Maybe Nola was working on something?  Hopefully?  He lasted 2 2/3 innings, giving up six runs on seven hits.

What Happened:  The other two relievers dinged in this game were Brandon Kintzler and Tony Watson, both of whom had been stellar up until this point in the spring.  Kintzler gave up three unearned runs on four hits, while Watson was touched for four runs on five hits.  Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. went 4 for 4 with two doubles and a triple.  Jean Segura had a two-run single for the Phillies in the fourth with Matt Vierling adding a two-run home run in the seventh.

Featured Card:  Vierling, a mini-camp invitee and wearing #76, has never had a card featured on this blog so let's fix that here.  I have four of his cards in my collection, all from 2018 or 2019 and all showing him either with the Williamsport Crosscutters or the Clearwater Threshers.

Camp Head Count:  66 - 3 = 63.  Before the game, the Phillies optioned Nick Maton (inf) and Cristopher Sanchez (lhp) to minor league camp.  Following the game, C.J. Chatham (inf) was also optioned.  The Chatham move is a little surprising, as I had assumed he'd earn a spot on the opening day roster as the team's back-up infielder.  But in 10 spring games, Chatham batted only .174 (4 for 23).

Spring Training Game 15 - 2021 Topps #162 Rhys Hoskins

Yankees 4
, Phillies 2
Spring Training Game 15 - Monday Afternoon, March 15th in Tampa
Record - 7-7-1

One Sentence Summary:  Chase Anderson improved his chances of making the starting pitching rotation, but the Phillies ultimately dropped this game to the Yankees, 4-2.

What It Means:  Granted we're in strange times, but it was odd to me that a Phillies/Yankees spring training game was neither televised nor available on the radio.

What Happened:  Anderson pitched three shutout innings, allowing two hits and striking out four.  The game was tied up at 1-1 until the Yankees plated three in the seventh inning off Phillies reliever Hector Rondon.  The Phillies' two runs came on Rhys Hoskins' first home run of the spring in the sixth inning, and an RBI single from Luke Williams in the ninth.

Featured Card:  We were incredibly saddened to learn of the sudden passing of Hoskins' beloved dog Rookie on Monday afternoon.  He was a good boy.

Camp Head Count:  66

Monday, March 15, 2021

Spring Training Game 14 - 2019 Topps Big League #278 Odubel Herrera

Phillies 6
, Pirates 5
Spring Training Game 14 - Sunday Afternoon, March 14th in Bradenton
Record - 7-6-1

One Sentence Summary:  Starting pitcher Matt Moore continued his strong spring while the Phillies offense again provided just enough runs for this 6-5 win over the Pirates.

What It Means:  The sun is shining, the weather is warming up and the Phillies were on TV on Sunday - albeit the Pirates feed via the MLB app.  It was a good day.

What Happened:  Moore has had probably one of the best springs of any Phillies pitcher, and I would think he's all but locked up a spot in the team's starting pitching rotation.  He threw four innings, allowing a wind-blown solo home run to Pirates catcher Jacob Stallings, while striking out three.

Alec Bohm had two more hard hits, raising his spring average to .316, and Darrick Hall added his first home run in the seventh.  Matt Joyce also had a pair of RBI singles.

Featured Card:  I honestly didn't think I'd ever post an Odubel Herrera card again on this blog, but as he attempts to make a comeback following his domestic abuse suspension, he's emerged as the strongest candidates for the open center field spot.  He bunted for a base hit in the first and then hit a massive, bat flip inducing home run in the third.  Manager Joe Girardi remains non-committal on Herrera's chances of making the team.  But with Adam Haseley out with a groin injury, it could come down to Herrera and Roman Quinn for the final spot.  Herrera hasn't had any new baseball cards issued since the summer of 2019.

Camp Head Count:  66

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Spring Training Game 13 - 2020 Topps Heritage #563 Didi Gregorius

Phillies 9
, Tigers 3
Spring Training Game 13 - Saturday Afternoon, March 13th in Clearwater
Record - 6-6-1

One Sentence Summary:  The Phillies offense showed some punch and Zach Eflin looked ace-like in this 9-3 victory over the Tigers.

What It Means:  We're less than three weeks away from opening day, and I'm at the point in the spring schedule where I'm anxious for games that mean something to start.

What Happened:  Bryce Harper hit a first inning home run and almost had a second home run in the fifth, but the ball lodged in the top of the outfield fence padding for a ground rule double.  Joining Harper with a multi-hit game was Andrew McCutchen who doubled in the third before Harper and Rhys Hoskins both worked walks to load the bases for Didi Gregorius.  Gregorius then delivered a grand slam to give the Phillies a 6-0 lead.

Eflin threw a crisp four innings, allowing two hits while striking out four.

Featured Card:  Gregorius had a bunch of Phillies cards issued last year, but there weren't a whole lot of opportunities to feature many of them.  This is the newest card of his I've added, from December's Heritage High Numbers set.

Camp Head Count:  73 - 7 = 66.  In the first cuts of the spring, the Phillies optioned 7 players to minor league camp, and all 7 are currently on the team's 40-man roster - Kyle Dohy (lhp), Bailey Falter (lhp), Damon Jones (lhp), Mauricio Llovera (rhp), Adonis Medina (rhp), Francisco Morales (rhp) and Simon Muzziotti (of).  Of that bunch, only Llovera and Medina saw time with the Phillies in 2020.

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Spring Training Game 12 - One Year Later . . .

2017 Choice
Williamsport Crosscutters #16
Phillies 6
, Orioles 2
Spring Training Game 12 - Friday Afternoon, March 12th in Sarasota
Record - 5-6-1

One Sentence Summary:  Zack Wheeler pitched four strong innings and the offense finally showed some life again as the Phillies downed the Orioles, 6-2.

What It Means:  One year ago, on March 12, 2020, I left my house with the hand sanitizer my wife had bought for me and made my 24-mile commute into Center City Philadelphia.  Taking the elevator to my office on the 17th floor (I think?) I made it through the work day, doing my best not to get too distracted by the increasingly bad news about the coronavirus.  I left work that day and haven't been back since.  It was odd to mark the one-year anniversary of this on Friday and in many ways it doesn't seem as if an entire year has passed.  I'm still working, still doing the same things I was doing this time last year, except I'm in my basement and my meetings are virtual.  Instead of having a bustling Market Street behind me, I have Star Wars and baseball card posters.  My work clothes haven't been off their hangers in a year, and I recently noticed some of my work pants are now slightly dusty.

One year ago today, I used the word "pandemic" for the first time on this blog, noting that spring training had been cancelled and the start of the regular 2020 season would be pushed back at least two weeks.

But now there's baseball being played, my family has its health and the weather is getting better.  Spring is coming, steady as she goes.

What Happened:  Wheeler allowed two runs on four hits while striking out three.  Five relievers - Jose Alvarado, Connor Brogdon, Archie Bradly, Hector Neris and Enyel De Los Santos - then combined to no-hit the Orioles over the final five innings, while striking out a combined 8 batters.  C.J.  Chatham started the scoring for the Phillies with an RBI-double in the second. 

Featured Card:  Third baseman Nick Maton hit a three-run home run in the sixth, giving the Phillies a 4-2 lead.  He's currently listed as the 19th best prospect in the Phillies' farm system by MLB.com, and he's likely to be one of the first infielders recalled during the season if the need arises.  I only have four of Maton's baseball cards in my collection, and this is the first from the 2017 Crosscutters team set.

Camp Head Count:  73

Spring Training Game 11 - 2021 Topps #308 Jay Bruce

Yankees 6
, Phillies 1
Spring Training Game 11 - Thursday Afternoon, March 11th in Clearwater
Record - 4-6-1

One Sentence Summary:  Aaron Nola turned in a solid outing against the Yankees in this 6-1 loss in Clearwater.

What It Means:  As a Phillies partial season ticket holder (since 1992) a pre-sale window opened up for me on March 10th to buy tickets to the first 19 regular season home games to be played at Citizens Bank Park.  I'm happy to report that after figuring out how to buy tickets in two or four-seat pods, we obtained tickets to several of these games.  Only 8,800 fans will be permitted at first, but it's a step in the right direction and I'm slightly giddy just thinking about getting to go to an actual Phillies game in a few weeks.  The Phillies lost this spring training game, but with tickets in hand and the sun shining, it was a good day.

What Happened:  Nola went four innings, allowing two runs on four hits while striking out three.  JoJo Romero, David Hale and Ramon Rosso each threw scoreless innings of relief.  Andrew McCutchen went 2 for 2 with an RBI-single in the third.

Featured Card:  Jay Bruce went 0 for 2 in this game, batting third for the Yankees and playing right field.  I enjoyed watching Bruce with the Phillies for the short time he was with the club, and I hope he gets another chance with the Yankees in 2021.  And I still can't get over how small the names are on the fronts of 2021 Topps cards.

Camp Head Count:  73

Spring Training Game 10 - 2015 Bowman Draft #56 Lucas Williams

Phillies 6
, Tigers 4
Spring Training Game 10 - Wednesday Afternoon, March 10th in Clearwater
Record - 4-5-1

One Sentence Summary:  Luke Williams' impressive three-run home run in the fourth inning was the difference in this 6-4 Phillies win.

What It Means:  Work responsibilities have cut into my ability to enjoy any of these games, but it's still nice to have the game on TV (muted) while I continue to work from home.

What Happened:  Williams had the biggest blast, but Jeff Mathis and Brad Miller also homered for the Phillies.  Miller went 3 for 3 to raise his spring average to .294 and he's a lock for one of the club's opening day roster bench spots.  Matt Joyce, who went 2 for 2, and Mathis could start the season on the opening day roster as well.  Joyce could earn one of the final bench spots and Mathis becomes the team's back-up catcher if J.T. Realmuto's sprained thumb isn't ready to go by opening day.

Featured Card:  This is the second year in a row Williams was invited to camp, and he'll most likely start the season with the Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs.  The first Phillies cards I have of him came way back in the 2015 Bowman Draft release.

Camp Head Count:  73

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Spring Training Game 9 - Remembering Rheal Cormier

Blue Jays 4
, Phillies 1
Spring Training Game 9 - Tuesday Afternoon, March 9th in Dunedin
Record - 3-5-1

One Sentence Summary:  It was another quiet afternoon for the offense as the Blue Jays topped the Phillies, 4-1.

What It Means:  Since their 15-run outburst against the Yankees on Thursday, the Phillies have been held to five runs over their last four games.  With no radio or TV broadcast of this game, I watched a portion of this game via a wind blown camera stationed in center field and live-streamed on the Blue Jays' website.

What Happened:  Vince Velasquez threw 39 pitches in 1 2/3 innings, allowing an earned run on a hit and two walks.  Matt Moore continued his perfect spring with two more scoreless innings.  Connor Brogdon, Archie Bradley and Jose Alvarado also threw scoreless frames.  The Phillies' sole run came in the eighth when Nick Maton doubled home Mickey Moniak.  Moniak continues to swing a hot bat and with his triple in this game his average is up to .556.

Featured Card:  On Monday afternoon, we learned former Phillies reliever Rheal Cormier had passed away after a battle with cancer.  Cormier was 53 years old.  He was one of the original Phillies Room Favorites and also one of my wife Jenna's favorite players.  By all accounts he was a good guy, and Jim Salisbury wrote a nice tribute here to the former lefty reliever.

In six seasons with the Phillies between 2001 and 2006, Cormier appeared in 363 games, which is second on the all-time franchise list among lefty relievers behind Tug McGraw.  He went 8-0 with a 1.70 ERA in 2003, appearing in 65 games.  He was the winning pitcher in the final game the Phillies won at Veterans Stadium on September 27, 2003, and then was the winning pitcher in the first game the Phillies won at Citizens Bank Park on April 7, 2004.

My family and I met Cormier briefly on two occasions, both during the 2014 season.  He was signing autographs before the game on April 12, 2014, and he posed for a picture with our oldest son Doug before taking the field to throw out the ceremonial first pitch.  He was back signing autographs on August 9, 2014, joined by Ricky Jordan, as part of that season's Alumni Weekend/Wall of Fame celebration.  This time Jenna got to pose with one of her favorite players and he signed the photo card shown above for her.

At some point during his years with the club, we purchased one of his game-used hats at the annual offseason clubhouse sale.  The hat is sweat-stained with his number 37 written in permanent marker on the underside of the brim.  There's a small religious charm safety-pinned to the inside of the back of the hat.  On the off chance anyone from Cormier's family ever comes across this post I'd love to find a way to get this hat to you as it's something that rightfully belongs with his family.

Monday, March 8, 2021

Spring Training Game 8 - 2019 Topps Gallery #124 JD Hammer

Yankees 4
, Phillies 0
Spring Training Game 8 - Sunday Afternoon, March 7th in Tampa
Record - 3-4-1

One Sentence Summary:  A second inning Brett Gardner grand slam off Phillies starting pitcher Zack Wheeler was the only scoring in this game, a 4-0 loss to the Yankees.

What It Means:  Wheeler struggled, but he's healthy so we've got that going for us.  Officially, Wheeler went 2 1/3 innings and allowed 4 runs on 4 hits while walking 2.  Wheeler also struck out four.  This game was televised on the MLB Network and it was great to finally watch a ballgame on a spring-like sunny day.

What Happened:  The offense was quiet for the second day in a row, managing only five hits.  Two of those hits came from Matt Joyce, who is now batting .375 this spring.  At the top of the line-up, Andrew McCutchen, Didi Gregorius, Bryce Harper and Jean Segura went 0 for 11.

Featured Card:  Yesterday, I featured a card of the seemingly forgotten Enyel De Los Santos and today I'll feature another reliever who could still help the club in 2021 - JD Hammer.  Hammer never got the call from the Phillies last year, spending part of the summer with the team's taxi squad in Lehigh Valley.  He threw 2/3 of an inning in this game, striking out Giancarlo Stanton looking with a 97mph fastball.

Camp Head Count:  73 - The first injury of the spring struck the club as it was announced that Adam Haseley will miss at least four weeks with a strained groin.  Haseley, who had the inside track to be the Phillies' opening day center fielder, suffered the injury in the game against the Yankees on Friday.

Sunday, March 7, 2021

Spring Training Game 7 - 2019 Topps Archives #187 Enyel De Los Santos

Blue Jays 7
, Phillies 1 (7 Innings)
Spring Training Game 7 - Saturday Afternoon, March 6th in Dunedin
Record - 3-3-1

One Sentence Summary:  Tanner Roark and five Blue Jays' relievers limited the Phillies to three hits in this 7-1 loss.

What It Means:  In a game oddly not televised or broadcast over the radio, Phillies fans had to follow along on social media, wait for Gameday to refresh or simply ignore this game.  The Blue Jays have made the decision to go without a radio broadcast team in 2021, and will simulcast its television broadcast over the radio for all regular season games.  As a huge fan of listening to baseball on the radio, this seems like a horrible idea to me.

What Happened:  The lone Phillies run scored in the fourth when Odubel Herrera singled, was doubled to third by Alec Bohm and then came home on a wild pitch from Blue Jays pitcher Rafael Dolis.  The Phillies pitching was decent in this game through the first five innings, with starter Adonis Media and reliever Enyel De Los Santos looking the strongest.  Mini-camp invitee David Paulino was hit hard, giving up 4 runs on 5 hits and a walk in his inning of work against his former team.

Featured Card:  De Los Santos shouldn't be forgotten when it comes to potential Phillies relievers and/or spot starters in 2021.  He struck out the side in his one inning of work, and looked impressive doing it.  De Los Santos was briefly recalled by the team in 2020 but never saw any game action.  The bulk of his Phillies baseball card output came in 2019, including this Topps Archives card, and his lone card from 2020 can be found in the Topps Total set.

Camp Head Count:  73

Saturday, March 6, 2021

Spring Training Game 6 - 2021 Topps Project 70 #15 Bryce Harper

Phillies 3
, Pirates 0
Spring Training Game 6 - Friday Afternoon, March 5th in Clearwater
Record - 3-2-1

One Sentence Summary:  Eight Phillies pitchers held the Pirates to two hits and Bryce Harper made his spring debut with a two-run home run in this 3-0 win.

What It Means:  After last season's relief pitching debacle, it was slightly jarring (but incredibly refreshing) to witness seven innings of scoreless relief pitching from the remade bullpen.

What Happened:  Chase Anderson started the game, throwing two perfect innings and striking out three.  The seven relievers that followed combined for 10 more strikeouts against a lifeless Pirates line-up.  Harper homered to the opposite field in his first spring at-bat, and Andrew McCutchen added a solo home run in the fifth.

Featured Card:  Hard to believe, but Harper is already entering his third season with the Phillies.  This is his new Project 70 card, which arrived in the mail yesterday, a few weeks after it had gone on sale on the Topps website.  Throughout the season, Topps will be selling cards produced by various artists depicting a player on one of the company's flagship baseball card set designs from its 70 year history.  This Harper card is supposed to pay tribute to the 1999 Topps set.  To date, there have already been three Phillies represented in the Project 70 set - this Harper card, a McCutchen card (paying tribute to 1959 Topps) and a Mike Schmidt card (paying tribute to 2008 Topps).

I think I like these?  They're definitely different, and after a Phillies-less year with the Topps Project 2020 offering, I'm glad to see the team getting some representation early and often this year.  I'm not sure yet how to store them as they come encased in a think slab with a protective piece of tape across the top.  The cards themselves are super thick, so even if I removed it from the slab it wouldn't fit well into a 9-pocket page.  Anyone have any thoughts on these cards?  Are you collecting them?

Camp Head Count:  73

Friday, March 5, 2021

Spring Training Game 5 - 2020 Topps Now Blue #283 Mickey Moniak

Phillies 15
, Yankees 0 (8 Innings)
Spring Training Game 5 - Thursday Afternoon, March 4th in Clearwater
Record - 2-2-1

One Sentence Summary:  The Phillies offense unloaded on the Yankees and the Phillies pitchers held the Yankees line-up to just three hits in this 15-0 drubbing.

What It Means:  It's early.  It's only spring training.  But a 15-0 win over the Yankees is still pretty cool to watch.  With the game televised and my work situation still remote, I enjoyed watching the Phillies circle the bases albeit with the game on mute.

What Happened:  Matt Moore and Vince Velasquez, battling for essentially the same job, were both impressive throwing an efficient four innings.  Moore allowed a hit while striking out two, while Velasquez struck out three and held the Yankees hitless.  The Phillies offense pounded out 12 hits with Odubel Herrera, Mickey Moniak and Luke Williams all having two hits a piece.  On a windy day in Clearwater, the Phillies managed six home runs from Scott Kingery, Herrera, Alec Bohm, two from Moniak and Williams.

Featured Card:  Former #1 draft pick Moniak has looked strong early this spring and he could make Joe Girardi's final decision for an outfield bench spot interesting.  If nothing else, Moniak provides solid outfield depth for the team even if he starts the season with Lehigh Valley.  I was surprised to see I have only one Moniak card in my collection from 2020 - this Topps Now card.  The version Topps sent me is blue-bordered and numbered to 49.  Hopefully he's better represented on baseball cards in 2021.

Camp Head Count:  73

Thursday, March 4, 2021

Spring Training Game 4 - 2020 Topps Total #63 Andrew Knapp

Phillies 4
, Tigers 2 (7 Innings)
Spring Training Game 4 - Wednesday Afternoon, March 3rd in Lakeland
Record - 1-2-1

One Sentence Summary:  The Phillies notched their first win of the spring behind strong pitching from Zach Eflin and a four-run third inning.

What It Means:  Eflin looked solid in his first game action, working two quick innings and striking out three while allowing only one hit.  The Phillies are hoping Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler and Eflin form a strong trio at the top of the rotation.

What Happened:  Ivan Nova redeemed himself with two scoreless innings of relief, as he had struggled in the spring opener on Sunday.  Didi Gregorius and Brad Miller drove in the first two runs in the third with Andrew Knapp then coming through with a two-run double.  Travis Jankowski had two hits for the Phillies.

Featured Card:  Eflin could have gotten the card here, but I'll take the rare opportunity to feature a card of the Phillies' back-up catcher.  The rarity of the appearance isn't a knock on Knapp, but as the back-up to J.T. Realmuto he's not going to receive many chances to shine throughout the season.  I read somewhere during the offseason that Knapp is the current Phillie most likely to go on to a managerial career once his playing days are over.  His cardboard output last year was limited to cards in the flagship set, the Topps retail team set and this Topps Total card.

Camp Head Count:  73

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Spring Training Game 3 - 2018 Topps Pro Debut #185 Darick Hall

Blue Jays 4
, Phillies 2 (6 Innings)
Spring Training Game 3 - Tuesday Afternoon, March 2nd in Dunedin
Record - 0-2-1

One Sentence Summary:  Zack Wheeler threw two scoreless innings in his spring debut as the Phillies lost to the Blue Jays in an abbreviated six-inning game.

What It Means:  Teams have been given the option to play only six or seven innings over the first few weeks of spring training, and it seems as if the Phillies are taking advantage of that option.  

What Happened:  Bailey Falter and Cristopher Sanchez gave up the four Blue Jays runs, with Adonis Medina and Damon Jones joining Wheeler in throwing scoreless frames.  Odubel Herrera returned to the Phillies line-up for the first time since his suspension for domestic abuse.  Batting fifth, Herrera had a single and stole a base.

Featured Card:  Mini-camper Darrick Hall's double in the fifth drove in Herrera and C.J. Chatham, the only two runs the Phillies would score in this game.  I'm looking forward to so many things in 2021, including hopefully the return of minor league games and minor league baseball card team sets.  With no minor league games in 2020, and therefore no minor league team sets, most of the Phillies minor leaguers, including Hall, have not had a baseball card appearance since 2019.  This is Hall's card from the 2018 Topps Pro Debut set.

Camp Head Count:  73

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Spring Training Game 2 - 2014 Topps Heritage #42 Matt Joyce

Phillies 4
, Orioles 4 (7 Innings)
Spring Training Game 2 - Monday Afternoon, March 1st in Clearwater
Record - 0-1-1

One Sentence Summary:  The Phillies and Orioles played to a 4-4, 7 inning tie in front of 1,886 mostly masked fans in Clearwater.

What It Means:  Fans returned to Clearwater for the first time since spring training was abruptly halted almost a year ago due to increasing pandemic concerns and the looming lockdown.  This game was also televised, giving me a reason to block off my work calendar on Monday afternoon with "Spring Development Meeting" from 1 to 4.

What Happened:  Aaron Nola started and pitched two innings, allowing a two-run home run to DJ Stewart in the first.  The Orioles scored two unearned runs in the fifth off Ramon Rosso, with a Nick Maton error contributing to the scoring.  Andrew Knapp hit a ground rule double to left (lost in the sun by Ryan Mountcastle) in the first, plating two.  Catcher Rodolfo Duran, serving as a DH in the game, had two hits.

Featured Card:  Non-roster invitee Matt Joyce impressed with a third inning home run and a nice diving catch in right field.  Joyce came up with the Tigers in 2008, and he's been appearing on baseball cards regularly ever since.  Shown above is his 1965 Topps-inspired card from the 2014 Topps Heritage set.

Camp Head Count:  73 - We're going to be holding steady at 73 for at least a week or so.  But I do have an important uniform number update, for those of us who are interested in that sort of thing.  In mid-February, I posted a summary of the new uniform assignments, noting that several respectable numbers were still available.  Two weeks later, and with the strange exception of #39 and #43, all numbers have now been assigned.  Since that update, the Phillies have assigned new numbers to Jeff Mathis (#8), Travis Jankowski (#9), Brad Miller (#13), Bryan Mitchell (#49), Tony Watson (#52) and JD Hammer (#64).  Hammer moves down a notch from #65, his old number, as that was claimed by new pitching coach Caleb Cotham.

I've also cobbled together the uniform numbers for the 20 mini-camp invitees, shown here.  Strangely enough, the Phillies have issued #94 twice - to infield prospect Luis Garcia and also to bullpen coach David Lundquist.  Mike Calitri, the team's quality assurance coach, is the only person without a number so far (to my knowledge) so perhaps he ended up with either #39 or #43.

Monday, March 1, 2021

Spring Training Game 1 - 2020 Topps Finest Flashbacks #150 Adam Haseley

Tigers 10
, Phillies 2 (7 Innings)
Spring Training Game 1 - Sunday Afternoon, February 28th in Lakeland
Record - 0-1

One Sentence Summary:  The Phillies were trounced by the Tigers in their 2021 spring training debut, dropping this game by a score of 10-2.

What It Means:  After a particularly tough winter and what seemed like a small eternity since the Phillies last played enjoyable baseball, we'll need to wait a little longer for the Phillies to play enjoyable baseball.  Still, on a rainy and dreary Sunday in February, it was wonderful to be able to listen to this game via the Tigers' radio broadcast.

What Happened:  Phillies starting pitcher Ivan Nova was ineffective and didn't last through the first inning.  Nova, relievers Jonathan Hennigan and JD Hammer combined to throw 1 2/3 innings, allowing 6 hits and 8 runs on 8 walks.  Four Tigers runs scored on bases loaded walks.  On the plus side, reliever Bryan Mitchell threw two scoreless innings and struck out 3.  The offense couldn't get much going against the Tigers, tallying only four hits.

Featured Card:  One of the few highlights in this game for the Phillies was the lead-off opposite-field home run hit by Adam Haseley on the second pitch thrown of the spring.  With the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, I didn't get a chance to feature many 2020 baseball cards so I'll try to make up for that this spring.  This is Haseley's card from the 1993-inspired Topps Finest Flashbacks set, released last July.

Camp Head Count:  72 - 1 + 2 = 73 - Just like everything else, this year's spring training is a little different with Covid protocols limiting the number of overall players in camp.  To explain my math here, the Phillies started out with 40 players on their 40-man roster on February 17th, 13 non-roster invitees and 19 mini-camp invitees.  These mini-camp invitees are minor league players who will be training at the minor league facilities but will be available for the exhibition games.  It's possible, but not likely, any of the mini-camp players could ultimately make the big club for opening day.

So we start with 72, with Seranthony Dominguez being placed on the injured list (minus one), infielder Brad Miller officially signed (plus one) and prospect Luis Garcia added to the mini-camp roster on February 22nd (plus one).

2021 Virtual Phillies Wall / 2021 Chachi Set Checklist