Phillies’ Song throws off mound, knows challenges ahead

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CLEARWATER, Fla. – Noah Song has no illusions of the challenges still ahead as he approaches the end of his first week of spring training after joining the Philadelphia Phillies from the U.S. Navy.

Dressed in white pinstripe pants and a red batting practice jersey with No. 52 and his name on the back, the 25-year old right-hander threw 25 pitches on Tuesday during his second mound session since reporting to camp Thursday.

“It’s a work in progress, for sure,” Song said of the session watched by Phillies president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski and manager Rob Thomson. “It’s far from perfect, and I’m just hoping for an upward trajectory. Just trying to continue to get some improvement everyday.”

Song walked onto the field at 10 a.m. to stretch and throw, looking the part of someone bidding to make the opening day roster.

But the adjustment period is ongoing.

“I feel like I’m trying to be a baseball player again, I guess,” Song said. “It’s hard when you’re around the competition level these guys are. I’m just trying to keep my head above water right now.”

Song had been a flight officer training on a U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft at Naval Air Station Jacksonville in northeast Florida before the Navy granted a transfer from active duty to reserves.

“He looked like he’s got a feel for all his pitches, but he’s still building up,” Thomson said. “So really, there’s no evalauation other than he’s healthy. Not commanding his pitches but just a feel for them, being able to throw strikes and spin the ball. He looks like he can do that.”

That decision allowed him the chance to try and regain the skills that were impressive during his only pro season in 2019 when he made seven starts for Boston’s Class A Lowell affiliate, striking out 19 in 17 innings with a 1.06 ERA. With a fastball in the upper 90s mph, he went 11-1 with a 1.44 ERA and 161 strikeouts in 94 innings during his senior year at Navy.

“I think that it’s definitely just way too early to tell,” Song said. “There’s so much that needs to get done for me right that it’s not something I could really project.”

Song was taken by the Phillies from Boston in the winter meeting draft for unprotected minor league players in December. He was selected by the Red Sox in the fourth round of the 2019 amateur draft when Dombrowski headed Boston’s baseball operations.

Song is not getting any special treatment in the clubhouse. His locker is one of four temporary ones in the middle of the room.

After his workout, he sat at his locker in shorts and a T-shirt working on his glove.

Regardless of the ultimate outcome, Song is having fun right now.

“These guys create a very good environment,” Song said. “Definitely, the fun is not an issue right now, that’s for sure.”

Roger Clemens will be an analyst for ESPN on opening day

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Roger Clemens will be an analyst for ESPN when the defending World Series champion Houston Astros host the Chicago White Sox on opening day.

Clemens made four appearances on last year’s KayRod Cast with Michael Kay and Alex Rodriguez. He will be stepping in on March 30 for David Cone, who will be doing the New York Yankees opener against the San Francisco Giants on YES Network.

“Roger has been sort of a friend of ours for the last year, so to speak, he’s in. He’s been engaged, knowledgeable and really present,” said ESPN Vice President of Production Phil Orlins. “You know, whatever past may be, he’s still tremendously engaged and he really brought that every time he was with us.”

Clemens was a seven-time Cy Young winner but his career after baseball has been tainted by allegations of performance-enhancing drug use. He is a Houston native and pitched for the Astros for three seasons.

Orlins said that with the rules changes and pitch clock, it is important to have a pitcher in the booth with Karl Ravech and Eduardo Perez.

“We don’t feel like we have to have the dynamic of Eduardo with a pitcher, but we certainly think that works. Throw in the added factor of rule changes and it is better to have a batter-pitcher perspective,” Orlins said.

Orlins did not say if this would open the door for future opportunities for Clemens as an ESPN analyst.