Leftover bits of the Phillies in Clearwater

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I wish I was joking when I say that I spilled water on my keyboard yesterday and now the “r” key on it doesn’t work anymore. But that’s what happened. I’m putting them in via CTRL-V, which makes everything a lot slower. It’s pretty nuts, actually. Weirdest part? When I type the letter “i” it types “ir.” Like the r migrated down the keyboard. I think the water I spilled on it was possessed by evil spirits. Or the computer watched the movie “Electric Dreams” or something.

Anyway, I’ll try to salvage this post as best I can. I have no idea how I’ll write the rest of the day, but we’ll deal with that later.

It was a nice day. As I said the last time I was here back in 2010, Bright House Field is one of the nicest in all of spring training. a great park with a great, beachy-party vibe. Good food. Nice people. Phillies’ employees, from the people in the executive offices to the guys who wipe down the seats, are impossibly polite and make your day at a ballpark as pleasant as can be.

I already posted about my conversation with Gene Garber and the ceremony for Jim Fregosi — and as I said yesterday morning, the clubhouses were closed, so there wasn’t much of a chance to speak to players — so let’s just look at pictures I took. Lord knows the mostly boring game I saw — a 2-2 tie — wasn’t worth too many words.

There are lots of familiar faces on the Phillies spring training staff. Here’s one:

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Unfortunately, Chase Utley got the start over him today.

 

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Yes, I eavesdropped. The conversation was not quite as good as a Charlie Manual-Bobby Cox summit meeting likely was back in the day, but you take what you can get.

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A year ago, if I told you that all three of these guys would be significant parts of the 2014 Phillies, you’d have told me I was crazy. Abreu was out of the game, Brown was considered a bust and Utley hadn’t played a full season in ages. Yet here they are.

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Same goes for Larry Bowa, actually. He seemed done as a coach or manager and was left to TV duties only. He seems invigorated back in uniform. He hit fungoes for what seemed like forever, then pitched batting practice for much longer than you usually see a coach pitch. The man is a machine.

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But let’s not kid ourselves. This was my favorite coach on the field yesterday. For obvious reasons. Those reasons being that I am 12-years-old.

 

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I considered it for a second. But c’mon, there’s a reason I look so sad here. I could never purchase Phillies gear.

Bright House Field is home to some serious non-baseball entertainment:

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Coolio: you’re sharing a  marquee with a sibling, a cover band and “Black Honkeys.” Maybe it’s time to consider something else to do with your life? Something new?

Eh, who cares. I had all the entertainment I needed:

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A cheesesteak and a lager at a ballgame: that’s about as good as it gets.

Now, off to figure out how to be a professional writer without an “r” key.

Steven Matz to skip next spring training start with elbow issues

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Mets’ left-hander Steven Matz will miss his Grapefruit League appearance on Monday after experiencing soreness in his left elbow, according to a report by Mike Puma of the New York Post. Matz reportedly first felt discomfort in his elbow on Wednesday after pitching four innings against the Marlins, but a medical evaluation revealed no structural damage.

Still, it’s unsettling news for the 25-year-old, who is coming off of an injury-riddled 2016 season. Matz pitched to a 3.40 ERA, 2.1 BB/9 and 8.8 SO/9 during his sophomore campaign with the Mets, but his success was hampered by a bevy of shoulder and elbow issues that culminated in season-ending surgery to remove bone spurs from his left elbow.

Comments from Mets’ GM Sandy Alderson indicated that while the club doesn’t believe anything is significantly wrong with Matz’s elbow this time around, the setback could have an impact on his chances of cracking the Opening Day roster. Until he’s cleared to return to the mound, the club is expected to take a longer look at rotation candidates Robert Gsellman, Zack Wheeler and Seth Lugo.

Video: Andrew Toles hammers grand slam in Cactus League win

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Dodgers’ left fielder Andrew Toles crushed his first spring training home run on Saturday afternoon. With the bases loaded and a two-run deficit hanging over their heads in the fourth inning, Toles stepped up to the plate against Oakland right-hander Jesse Hahn and unloaded a grand slam on the second pitch he saw.

Third baseman Justin Turner was quick to follow up with a solo jack of his own, bringing the score to a comfortable 7-4 lead by the end of the fourth. Another three-run outburst in the fifth and an eighth-inning RBI single by Austin Barnes raised the final score to 11-6… which, coincidentally, was the same score the Reds used to defeat the Athletics’ second split-squad lineup on Saturday (albeit with a few more RBI walks than grand slams).

Toles, 24, is approaching his sophomore season with the Dodgers in 2017. He slashed .314/.365/.505 with three home runs and an .870 OPS in his first major league season in 2016 and is expected to platoon with the right-handed Franklin Gutierrez in left field this year.