Archive for the 'Winter Tour' Category

2013 A Year to Remember For Pettibone

Thursday, January 30th, 2014

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(Editor’s Note – We’ll have some content from Wednesday’s Phillies Winter Banquet held at Woodlake Country Club that will be rolled out here over the next few days.)

Previously - Our talk with Ryne Sandberg. Our talk with Darin Ruf.

Jonathan Pettibone had made three starts with Triple-A Lehigh Valley when he got “the call” that he had been waiting for his whole life. He was going to the big leagues.

2013 was a special season for the former Phillies 3rd round pick, who made his big league debut on April 22nd, allowing two runs in 5.1 innings against Pittsburgh (he got a no-decision).

“It’s your dream since you were a little boy,” he recalled last week at the Phillies Winter Banquet. “I got to call my dad and my mom and they were able to come out and see me debut the next day.”

He said while he was excited for the call, “I still had to face the Pittsburgh Pirates the next night. You want to celebrate, but really you celebrate your goal and get ready.”

The transition, while obviously significant, was something that Pettibone was prepared for, with help.

“That was my first spring training in big league camp,” he said. And meeting Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and Cole Hamels for the first time and watching them in their daily routines was a big help. Then, getting into the same routines as them, you can learn a lot about getting ready for each game you have to start.”

Pettibone made 18 starts with the Phillies and went 5-4 with a 4.04 ERA before a July 28th injury shelved him for the remainder of the season. That injury, a shoulder strain, has been a focus for Pettibone.

“Right now,” he said. “Staying healthy is the most important thing. That put a damper on last season so I think going into camp healthy and staying healthy for 162 games would be huge.”

Fully healthy now, he’s been throwing since December 1st and began on the mound late last week.

Drafted in 2008, Pettibone made major strides with the BlueClaws in 2010. After a 5.29 ERA in the first half, Pettibone had a 2.41 ERA in the second half and won series-clinchers in both rounds of the post-season as the BlueClaws won their second straight SAL title.

“That was my first full season and coming into it I guess I was a little naive, not fully knowing what to expect,” he said. “But around the midway point of the season I turned it around and it took off from there. That whole experience, the first full season, capping it off with the championship, it was great.”

Ruf Remembers Lakewood As He Readies For Season

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

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(Editor’s Note – We’ll have some content from Wednesday’s Phillies Winter Banquet held at Woodlake Country Club that will be rolled out here over the next few days.)

Previously - Our talk with Ryne Sandberg.

Darin Ruf remembers the last game he played as a BlueClaw. May 12th, 2010 at Greenville and he went 5-5 with a home run.

“I had the worst BP that day off Gorm Heimueller, the pitching coordinator at the time,” he said. “I couldn’t hit a ball square to save my life. Then I went 5-5. Mark Parent called me to his office after the game and told me I got promoted.”

Going 5-5 not only was a great way to finish his time with the BlueClaws, but it also moved his average up 30 points to .330. He finished with four home runs and 17 RBIs in 32 games. Not a bad month for a player drafted in the 20th round the year before from Creighton.

Jonathan Singleton came up the next day and homered in his first at bat and the BlueClaws would go on to win their second straight championship while Ruf spent the rest of 2010 and all of 2011 with Clearwater.

Ruf turned enough heads that he earned a chance to play in the prestigious Arizona Fall League in 2011, and was on a team that included, among others, Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Will Middlebrooks, and Jean Segura.

“We were on one of the worst teams in the league too. You scratch your head and wonder why we didn’t win every game,” he joked. “It was a great learning experience being around some of the guys and to pick up things from seeing how they work. I’m never going to be as athletic as them so I have to pick up some little things to do well.”

He made the next step in 2012, moving to Double-A Reading. After hitting an impressive 18 home runs through July, he more than doubled-down in August, hitting 20 and finishing with 38, most in the minors that year.

“It was incredible,” he said. “It’s every baseball player’s dream to stay locked in as long as I was. To be able to do that at peak performance, and capture that, it was incredible.”

After the Reading season ended, he was promoted to Philadelphia, where he made history on September 25th (at least to us). In hitting his first big league home run in the same game where both Carlos Ruiz and Domonic Brown went deep, it was the first time three BlueClaws alumni homered in the same big league game.

He ended up playing in 12 games for the Phillies that year, going 12-33 with 3 home runs.

“It’s a different situation seeing guys like Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley, guys you grew up watching,” he said. “I remember when they came over talking to us at minor league camp. But personality wise, they take you in as part of the family. Having that core group of guys that know how to win and guys you can learn from is so important.”

Now, after a year split between Lehigh Valley and Philadelphia, he’s ready for spring training and a fight for at bats. Ruf went to Clearwater on January 12th to get ready (before a quick venture north for a week on the banquet circuit) for what he hopes is his first complete season in the big leagues.

Sandberg Ready For First Spring Training as Big League Manager

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014

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(Editor’s Note – We’ll have some content from Wednesday’s Phillies Winter Banquet held at Woodlake Country Club that will be rolled out here over the next few days. We’ll start with our chat with Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg.)

Ryne Sandberg was playing winter ball in Venezuela when he found out he was leaving the Phillies. He had been traded to the Cubs with Larry Bowa in exchange for Ivan DeJesus following the 1981 season.

“At the time I was bit surprised because Larry Bowa was a shortstop and I was a shortstop at the time,” he said at the annual Phillies Winter Banquet at Woodlake Country Club. “But I was going to a place where I was going to get to play a lot at 22. I went to spring training and started my major league career.”

It’s all come full circle for Sandberg in the last 23 years. His boss now of course is Phillies General Manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. His manager in winter ball when he found out he was traded? Ruben Amaro, Sr.

Sandberg, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2005 after a stellar 17-year career, will lead the Phillies at spring training for the first time starting next month. It’s the first time he’ll be a big league manager at spring training (after serving as interim manager for the Phillies over the last six weeks of last season), but it’s something he’s prepared for since his retirement.

“The smartest thing I did was go to spring training with the Cubs to serve as a guest instructor, which I did for nine years,” he said. In 2007, he started out as manager for the Cubs Midwest League affiliate in Peoria and was with the Cubs for four years before joining the Phillies again with Lehigh Valley in 2011.

“I was able to learn my style of managing while actually managing games,” he noted. “Then last year at the big league level as the third base coach and as the interim manager I was able to give the guys a feel of what I’m all about. I think being with these guys will go a long way entering the season.”

He’ll also make a point to make the younger players on the team feel as comfortable with the big league environment as he can.

“Larry Bowa [who will serve as Sandberg’s bench coach] helped me in that route both on the field and off the field,” Sandberg said. “We’d go to lunch and he made me feel I belonged. ‘I’m talking to Larry Bowa about who’s pitching today.’ Then once you’re comfortable, your natural tools will take over.”

He had to leave the Phillies to get his shot as a big league player, but now he’s come back to the Phillies to get his shot at managing, and Ryne Sandberg could not be more excited.

—-

One other thing Sandberg talked about that we wanted to mention here was the different chances players have to break into the game now compared to back then. Sandberg:

Triple-A is now different. It’s more 6 year free agents and a handful of prospects. Now, if you have a prospect at Double-A, he can make the jump straight to the big leagues. Then, you had to graduate Triple-A to get to the big leagues. Back then, you had to have a good Triple-A season and go to spring training and maybe break in. I think the movement of players now allows the players to go from Double-A to the big leagues but back then you had guys that played together for 10 years.

Manuel Focused on Topping Tough NL East

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

What follows is an article based on an interview with Phillies manager Charlie Manuel at the annual Phillies Winter Tour stop in Lakewood from January 23rd.

For other content from the Winter Tour, please click here.

LAKEWOOD, NJ – The 2012 campaign was not what the Philadelphia Phillies and skipper Charlie Manuel had in mind, but they are both ready to turn the page and focus on a better 2013.

“We never really got going out of the gate,” admitted Manuel. “We definitely had a lot of injuries and had Howard and Utley out for over half the season, and Halladay was injured too which hurt our rotation and put a lot of stress on the bullpen.”

Manuel addressed the media prior to the Phillies Winter Tour festivities began at Woodlake Country Club. He spoke candidly on last year, and expressed that he was ready for spring training and the 2013 season.

“It’s been a long offseason, a lot of looking back on last year. I’m really looking forward to this season; I’ve been ready to go for a while…I’m heading down to Clearwater and we’ll be off and running.”

(more…)

Winter Tour Wrap-Up

Friday, January 25th, 2013

There’s a bunch of different content out there from us and from outside sources from the Winter Tour event on Wednesday night. We wanted to consolidate that all in one place, and we’ve done that below.

From BlueClaws.com / BlueClaws Blog

From the Asbury Park Press

From the Press of Atlantic City

From PhoulBallz / Phillies Nation

There’s a lot of stuff there and I hope you enjoy it!

From The Winter Tour – Our Interview With Jesse Biddle

Thursday, January 24th, 2013

As we mentioned in our previous post, we had some other comments from Jesse Biddle that didn’t quite make the story and wanted to share with you here.

On his off-season work…I’ve thrown a bullpen once a week for the last six or so weeks. I’m getting there. More and more game ready, closer to where I want to be, but I’m light years from where I need to be in May, June, July.

When he turned his season around in May (2012) - One of the things that happened was I started to throw a slider, which is something I was throwing in high school. That helped me with all my other pitches, and I felt a lot more comfortable with all my other pitches.

Ready for Double-A…Hopefully if the Phillies believe I’m ready for AA coming out of Spring Training and they put me there, the way it works is it seems they take the best hitters from Hi-A and put them in AA and you face the best of the best. I just have to really focus and bring my A-game every time and I can’t take a pitch off. Everyone says the biggest jump is from A ball to AA so it’s something that I’m really excited about, to see if you’re ready or not. We’ll see.

What he’s heard about Reading’s FirstEnergy Stadium…I’ve heard from pitchers that the wind blows out and the park isn’t very big, but the way I see it is if I keep the ball down and throw the pitches where I want, they can’t hit too many out. They’ll still have to get a hold of it to get it out. Unless I’m pitching against Darin Ruf, I can’t worry about it too much.

About Ruf and his major run last year (20 HRs in August), do the players on other teams in the system follow that and get into that?…We did. A guy hits 20 home runs in a month…that doesn’t happen very often. Especially for a guy like Ruf who you hear nothing but nice things about. For him to be able to ride that wave into the big leagues is a great opportunity and something that we were all rooting for.

Most interesting thing he did in the off-season…I just went to the inauguration. I had an amazing time there. One of my friends goes to George Washington and is in the ROTC program. He has a lot of connections and works on a few congressional campaigns, and got us some tickets. We were pretty close to the front. It was a great experience and something that I”ll remember for the rest of my life.

More on the inauguration…It’s not something you see every day. Watching on tv is great, but it’s nothing like in person. You can’t really understand having 800,000 people in the same area. The Phillies parade was a million people but it’s on a long stretch of Broad Street. So to have this many people crammed into one area is very overwhelming, but everyone was extremlely happy. You didn’t realize how cold you were.

Biddle Gearing Up For Season

Thursday, January 24th, 2013

Also from last night’s Winter Tour…

Jesse Biddle finished 2011 as a South Atlantic League Post-Season All-Star, and after a big season last year with Clearwater, he finished 2012 as the Phillies top prospect, at least in the eyes of Baseball America. The Philadelphia native was at the Phillies Minor League Week stop in Lakewood on Wednesday, and is anxious to get down to Clearwater for spring training.

“You try to enjoy your last couple of weeks in the off-season, but you have to make sure you’re in shape,” he said. “I’m enjoying time with my family and friends but I can’t stop picking up my glove. I can’t wait to have some hitters in the box and get ready for the season.”

Joe Jordan, the Phillies Director of Player Development, was impressed with Biddle’s year.

“No one had a better year, developmentally, than him,” said Jordan, who was also at Wednesday’s Winter Tour. “But when you get to know him and see him work, there are reasons why he’s successful.”

Read the rest of the story on BlueClaws.com.

We’ll have a companion to this story in a little bit, which will be more long-form Biddle quotes on a variety of topics.

Manuel Helps “Restore The Shore”

Thursday, January 24th, 2013

The plan today is to roll through a bunch of content and interviews that we did last night at the Phillies Winter Tour in Lakewood. That event started at 6, but Phillies manager Charlie Manuel came over earlier in the day to volunteer as part of Restore The Shore efforts.

Here is a story from BlueClaws.com.

“I really enjoyed meeting the people that are out there working and the people that are trying to clean up and still got quite a ways to go,” said Manuel.

He was pleased he was able to donate his time for service on the Shore, but Manuel added that attention needs to stay on the area and that there is still a greater need for aid.

“I really enjoyed it, but the biggest part about it was that they need help and I think that everybody in the United States knows that.”

And here is one from Tony Graham of the Asbury Park Press.

“I’m glad I got to see that,” Manuel said Wednesday night at the Phillies Winter Tour at the Woodlake Country Club. “It kind of brings reality back to you, how bad and how quick things happened, and how destructive a storm like Sandy was.”

[snip]

“We talked to them and also went around the whole area over there,” he said. “It’s kind of hard to believe and this is three months after it happened. They’ve been cleaning up ever since and there’s still a lot of work there. It’s unbelievable when you think about it. It’s every bit as bad as I heard it was.”

We will have interviews with Jesse Biddle, Joe Jordan, and more Manuel, this time on the upcoming season.

Winter Tour – Two Weeks From Today; Auction Items

Wednesday, January 9th, 2013

If you missed this on the main page, the Phillies Winter Tour returns to Lakewood, and Woodlake Country Club, two weeks from today, on January 23rd. Here are the details of what is always a tremendous event, and this year will include Phillies manager Charlie Manuel, infielder Kevin Frandsen and several members of the Phillies front office.

As part of the event, we always have some great auction items (fans purchase raffle tickets), and this year’s set of Phillies merchandise is as good as we’ve had in the last five years (since yours truly has been going).

  • Ryan Howard signed bat
  • Chase Utley signed bat
  • Cliff Lee signed baseball
  • Jonathan Papelbon signed baseball

So anyway – hope to see you there. You can sign up (tickets are $40 per person) by calling Lindsay at 732-901-7000 ext 100.

All proceeds from the event benefit BlueClaws Charities, the BlueClaws official non-profit 501c3 organization. BlueClaws Charities has donated over $500,000 to local non-profit organizations and fundraising events in the last four years.

Of course that night and in the days following, we will have a lot of content and interviews from the guests as we look around the system and specifically at the team the BlueClaws have coming here in 2013.

Some Winter Tour Leftovers

Monday, January 30th, 2012

Just cleaning out the notebook with some leftover quotes from the Winter Tour last Wednesday.

Mickey Morandini
“Lakewood is such a great environment. I know the players really enjoy playing in front of big crowds which we have here and I’m really looking forward to Opening Day.”

“I love everything about coaching. I love teaching the kids and I love seeing them grow into better and better players. I’ve been friends with Ruben for a while and now with my kids being older it made sense for me to start getting back into the game of baseball.”

“I’d love to manage in the bigs, but right now my job is to send Charlie the most polished players I can send him. People ask me what type of manager are you? I’ll say that I’m patient, and will be able to give the kids plenty of time to develop. The most gratifying part for me is to see the kids in April and see how much they’ve gotten better by September.”

Ruben Amaro
“We are very fortunate to have the support of all the people in this room and I applaud all of you for your support.”

“I believe Jimmy (Rollins) is the most consistent shortstop in baseball…If things didn’t work out with Jimmy we were ready for Freddy Galvis, who may still get an opportunity to play Major League Baseball this year.”

“We like to shoot for a guy that may be more high risk/high reward type of player than most teams.”

You see some photos of the event on Facebook here.

Also within the next week or so we’ll start with our position by position looks at guys that might be with the BlueClaws in 2012.

Some Winter Tour Media

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

Here are a couple of stories from the Winter Tour last night in Lakewood.

Mike McGarry of the Press of Atlantic City talked to Mickey Morandini and Jesse Biddle.

Morandini thought of becoming a coach or manager right after his retirement, but he had three young sons.

“When I retired, I told my wife I wanted to manage one day, but I had a 7-year-old, 4-year-old and 1-year-old,” he said. “I didn’t have time to go back on the road.”

Now, his boys are 17, 14 and 11, leaving him time to pursue a second baseball career.

(snip)

Biddle said Morandini is easy to get to know.

“He’s a really, really good baseball guy,” Biddle said. “He played the game the right way, so he can coach the game the right way.”

Biddle might have to sneak a favor from Morandini during the season. Biddle’s father, David, probably wouldn’t mind an autograph from his favorite player.

“I don’t know what the ethics are on that,” Biddle said with a laugh, “but my dad would be thrilled.”

Zach Berman of the Philadelphia Daily News talked to Charlie Manuel and Ruben Amaro about some of the spots open in the Phillies bullpen.

“If I was coming to spring training and I was a candidate for our bullpen,” Manuel said last night at the Phillies Winter Caravan, “I’d be hyped-up about making the team.”

Manuel offered the stories of Michael Stutes and Antonio Bastardo, key relievers from last season, who “came out of nowhere” and “were like icing on the cake.” He also mentioned how important it is for those two to continue progressing this season to prove that their reliability in 2011 was more than beginner’s luck.

(snip)

“Right now, we’re focusing on that low-hanging fruit, guys who haven’t signed yet, some guys who have some experience,” Amaro said. “We’re likely, probably not going to do a major-league deal, but it’s possible under the right circumstance. We do have some space on the roster. As far as our payroll’s concerned, we’re up against it, very close to being maxed out right now. We’ll see how it goes when we get closer to spring.”

Here is a Philly.com video talking to Manuel and Amaro. Look for some additional media later on and we’ll link it up here.

Charlie Manuel Discusses Phillies’ Upcoming Season

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel was one of the guests at the Phillies Winter Tour stop in Lakewood last night. We had a chance to talk with Manuel, who last year became the Phillies all time winningest manager and will enter his 8th season at the helm this year.

“I look back and it’s going by too quick- it has all gone by too fast. Time just seems like it flies by especially when you get a little age on you. I’ve been in the game all my life, and I’ve been very fortunate with the talent I was able to work with and very fortunate to get back to the big leagues as a manager.”

“We had a great season last year that ended in a tough way. It was special and then all of a sudden it seemed like we were out. Our goal every year ever since we won was to get back to the World Series and win it. I was talking to Halladay and a few of our players and we still feel like we’re ready to go [in Spring Training] and get started.”

“I’ve been around Jimmy [Thome] for about the first 15 years of his career. When I look at him-for him to hit 600 home runs- I’d sit around and talk to [Cleveland Indians General Manager] John Hart and [Assistant General Manager] Danny O’Dowd about what he’s going to do and I’d say that he was going to hit close to 500 home runs. Everything about his career has been great and as good of a player he is, he might be a better person. Thome is a guy who can walk through our clubhouse and have a positive impact.”

Jesse Biddle Sits Down at Phillies Winter Tour

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

Earlier tonight, Adam Giardino sat down with 2011 BlueClaws LHP Jesse Biddle, the South Atlantic League All-Star left-handed pitcher, for an interview at the Phillies Winter Tour event in Lakewood.


“I think going into my second full season I have a better understanding of what I need to do and where I need to be at. I had a tough first month in Lakewood this season and my first goal is to not have that happen. Whatever level I’m at, I want to be able to come out of the gate ready to go and not go through that first slump.”

“I need to improve upon every pitch, which, everyone can improve on something. I think the thing I wanted to improve upon was using my body more—getting a little bit more out of my legs and my core.”

“I want to tell you that I’m going to be in Redding and that I’m going to be successful there [by the end of the 2012 season]. Growing up as a fan of the Phillies, that’s where you know the guys are going to make that next jump and that’s where you can find out how good you really are.”

“Mentally, I think the biggest jump you make is going from your first season to your second season. Before your first season you have no idea what’s going on. By the time you come out of your first season you feel like a seasoned veteran.”

Winter Tour Questions

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

We will be interviewing all of the guests tomorrow night at the Winter Tour (details of the event here – I’m posting this early afternoon on Tuesday and you have to reserve your spot by Wednesday at 9 am).

Those interviews will be posted here and on Facebook, Twitter, etc and we’ll have a few stories, some pictures, etc. It should be a great night.

We’d like, of course, some of the questions for the guests to come from you. Submit them here in the comments section, send us an email (radio at blueclaws.com), or on Twitter. Just leave your first name and hometown if you don’t mind.

Guests: Charlie Manuel (Phillies manager), Ruben Amaro (Phillies GM), Jesse Biddle (2011 BlueClaws pitcher and top prospect), Mickey Morandini (former Phillies 2B and new BlueClaws manager), Steve Noworyta (Phillies assistant director of minor league operations).

Thanks and we hope to get a number of great questions!