Before I get into my coverage of our final two games, you may recall me mentioning in my last entry that I thought Ed Smith Stadium looks like a motel. Well, I dug through my old photo albums, and found a photo from our visit in March 2000. At the time, it was the spring home of the Reds. Since then, the Reds have relocated to Arizona for Spring Training, and Ed Smith is now home to the Orioles. Here it is:
Unless it’s been refurbished in the past 10 years, this is what the exterior of the part behind home plate looks like. All those railings and doors look just like a motel to me.
March 16 – Day 6
After yet another mouth-watering breakfast at the Inn at the Bay, we made our way to Bright House Field for today’s Phillies-Tigers game. If I haven’t already mentioned it, the Inn at the Bay serves the most awesome breakfasts. We’ve stayed there five times, and we’ve almost never had the same breakfast twice. They are so filling, most days we don’t even need lunch!
Once again, we arrived when the gates opened. New Tiger Johnny Damon signed some autographs (for Phillies fans!) during batting practice. I’m still not too happy with Johnny over that stolen-base-thing last October:
Cole Hamels was on the mound for the Phillies, going five innings with 2 hits, 1 run, and 4 stikeouts. He was looking pretty good this day:
Detroit’s Justin Verlander didn’t have such a great day, giving up home runs to Domonic Brown and Ryan Howard. Overall, he went 3 1/3 innings, with 4 runs on 3 hits:
Speaking of Howard’s homer (his first of the spring), it came on the swing immediately following this shot:
During a pitching change, Johnny Damon, Adam Everett, and Brandon Inge discuss the fly ball that got lost in the sun and just dropped into the Bermuda Triangle of turf between all three of them for a hit. They all appear to have sunglasses – guys, weren’t you using them?
Phil Coke came on in relief of Verlander, and proceeded to give up Domonic Brown’s second homer of the day, a two-run shot. Phil’s pants look like they have enough extra fabric at the bottom for a whole ‘nuther pair:
Domonic Brown had a great day at the plate, going 3-for-3 with two homers and an RBI single. As thanks, he got reassigned to the minor league camp after the game:
New Phillie Danys Baez came on to pitch a scoreless inning in relief:
Greg Dobbs, playing third in place of the injured Placido Polanco, makes contact. Dobbs went 1-for-3 and scored a run:
Jimmy Rollins stops to sign some autographs on his way to the clubhouse. This may have been a mistake, as he was stuck there for the next 10 minutes while fans continued to flock down the aisle. Jimmy is actually one of the most fan-friendly Phillies, so he didn’t seem to mind:
Something I hadn’t seen before was a post-game batting practice. After the final out, the cage was wheeled back on the field, and Raul Ibanez, Carlos Ruiz, and Shane Victorino took additional BP. Shane seemed to be working on his bunting. Afterwards, Raul Ibanez and his son walk to the clubhouse with Charlie Manuel:
On the way out, we stopped for a photo of me in front of the entrance to the ballpark. Since I’m always the one taking the pictures, we need visual proof I was actually on this vacation:
March 17 – Day 7
St. Patrick’s Day dawned rather gray and dreary. On our way to the ballpark, it even rained a little bit. This had me concerned, because our “seats” for today were on the berm, the grassy area beyond the outfield fence. I wasn’t looking forward to sitting on soggy sod.
Not to fear though. By gametime, the skies had cleared and it turned into a sunny, pleasant afternoon for our final day in Florida.
During Phillies BP, Charlie Manuel had a chance to check out the mini-sized Charlie Manuel bat that will be given out to kids on July 6:
Randy Winn and Brian Schneider are loitering behind the batting cage. Something has made Winn grin, though Schneider looks like he just ate a bug:
This trio of trouble is yukking it up at the expense of their fellow fielder, who just muffed a grounder during pre-game warmups:
Mark Texiera and Alex Rodriguez wait their turns in the batting cage. Just what is that huge wad hiding in A-Rod’s cheek? Gum? Sunflower seeds? Some chew? His ego?
Phillies broadcaster Chris Wheeler was on hand to sign copies of his book, “View From The Booth.” Yes, I bought one. There are some who don’t really like Wheels as a broadcaster, but I’ll be interested to read his take on things:
Just before the game started, I met up with Confession of a She-Fan‘s Jane Heller and got interviewed by her on the She-Fan Cam. Click here to read Jane’s coverage of the game, and see the video clip.
In between BP and game time, the Phillies changed from their usual red and white uniforms to their bright green St. Patty’s day jerseys. Joe Blanton took to the mound for the Phillies. Blanton had a Blanton-like outing, going 5 innings, scattering 7 hits and giving up 2 runs:
The last time my husband and I came to Spring Training, in 2007, we saw the Phillies host the Yankees on St. Patrick’s Day, and Andy Pettitte started for the Yankees. Three years later, we are seeing the Phillies host the Yankees on St. Patrick’s Day, and Andy Pettitte is starting for the Yankees. Deja vu!
Randy Winn scores for the Yankees, as the throw to Carlos Ruiz is late:
Ryan Howard tosses the ball to first to get the out:
The Flyin’ Hawaiian can’t fly quite far enough, as this ball got past Shane Victorino for an extra-base hit:
The Phillie O’Phanatic get a bit, um, friendly with the third-base umpire. The mind shudders to imagine the offspring that would result from such an unholy union:
The luck of the Irish was with Jayson Werth as he lauched a three-run homer, which sealed the outcome of the game in favor of the Phillies:
Final score: Phillies 6, Yankees 2
Later that evening, we met up for dinner with Jane and her husband Michael, as it turned out that they were staying just three blocks away from us in St. Petersburg. We all enjoyed a delicious meal, and great conversation. The time flew by, and since we all had flights home the next day, finally had to bid each other good night.
Our flight home was much better than the first – no turbulence, and my husband and I actually got to sit next to each other this time.
(all photos by me, except the one of me, which was taken by my husband)
I’ve finally had a chance to sit down and sort through the many (and I mean MANY) photos that I took during last week’s Florida trip. To make writing about it a less daunting task, I think I will break it apart into at least two, maybe even three, entries.
March 11 – Day 1
Since I’d neglected to go online and print out our boarding passes until very late the previous night, my husband and I were near the back of the line for boarding our Southwest flight from Philadelphia to Tampa. While waiting to board our plane, we realized that the Philadelphia Union soccer team was on our flight with us. Whereas MLB teams have their own charter flights, MLS teams (at least this one) fly on Southwest.
By the time hubby and I got on board, there were no seats left next to each other. So I ended up two rows ahead of him, in the middle seat between two of said soccer players. While soccer players are not exactly behemoths, they are by no means small people. The two I was sandwiched between were both over six feet tall.
OK, so this was going to be a bit cozy.
As there was a very large storm system apparently covering the entire eastern seaboard, we had the bumpiest flight I’ve ever experienced. I am not a fan of flying, especially during turbulence, and most especially when my husband is not next to me so I can squeeze the bejeesus out of his knee. Our approach to Tampa was particularly rough, and since I decided it would be inappropriate to grab the knees of total strangers, I made do with clutching the back of the seat in front of me. After we’d landed, we found out there had actually been tornado warnings in the Tampa Bay area just prior to our arrival. Yikes!
We picked up our rental car and proceeded without incident to our lodging for the week, the Inn at the Bay Bed & Breakfast in St. Petersburg. If you’re ever staying in the Tampa/St. Pete area, I highly recommend it. After checking in, we went for a walk around downtown St. Pete, checking out the empty Al Lang Field, former spring home of the Tampa Bay Rays. It must still be used for something, as the field was nice and green and obviously still being maintained. We made it back to the Inn just in time, as it then started to rain. Later on, we enjoyed an ice cream dinner at Cold Stone Creamery (we’d had a really late lunch and weren’t very hungry).
March 12 – Day 2
The Phillies had split squad games today, one in Lakeland against the Tigers and one in Port Charlotte against the Rays. We toyed with the idea of driving to Port Charlotte, but the weather forecast was not very promising. Eventually, we decided not to risk driving an hour and a half, paying for parking and tickets, and getting rained out.
Good thing, too, as both games did end up getting rained out. In fact, it rained just about the entire day.
We opted instead to drive to Bright House Field to do our shopping in the team store on a non-game day, to avoid waiting in the long line that usually forms at games. We also stopped for lunch at the renowned Lenny’s, and left very full.
March 13 – Day 3
Our first game action! Yay! The Phillies were hosting the Twins today at Bright House Field. We arrived nice and early to be there when the gates opened. Here are some of the better pictures from the day.
Former Phillie Clay Condrey stops by to say “hi” during batting practice:
J.C. Romero peeks out of the clubhouse to check things out during the Twins’ BP. Looks like he’s still eating his dessert:
After March, Bright House Field is home to the Phillies single-A affiliate, the Clearwater Threshers. Thresher mascot Phinley was on hand pre-game:
Catching the ceremonial first pitch from former Phillie, and current announcer, Larry Andersen, was another former Phil, Desi Relaford. It was bubble-blowing time:
Prior to the game, Shane Victorino tips his cap to the crowd:
J.A. Happ was on the mound for the Phillies. He pitched four shutout innings, allowing only one hit, and needed just 49 pitches to do so:
The Twins countered with Carl Pavano, who threw three shutout innings without allowing a hit:
There’s just a wee bit of a height difference between Jimmy Rollins and Justin Morneau:
The Phils’ resident caveman, oops, I mean Jayson Werth, makes contact:
Jose Contreras pitched a shutout inning in relief. How does he stretch his fingers apart like that?
Gotta keep this ball away from me! Twins reliever Pat Neshek has one of the oddest looking pitching motions around:
Final score: Phillies 5, Twins 4
And finally, what better way to cap off a Phils win on a beautiful day at the ballpark, than with a beautiful sunset
That’s it for tonight – Part 2 coming soon!
(all photos by me except for Inn at the Bay)