February 25, 2023
Games finally begin today with split-squad matchups against the Yankees and Tigers, giving us our first glimpse of the 2023 Phillies in action along with a chance to see how they'll adjust to the new rules in the pitch clock, the shift ban, and bigger bases.
There will be much to keep an eye on and just the general joy of seeing a live baseball game on TV again.
But until then, here's what they've been saying about the Phils, leading off with a uni update:
If you've seen the handful of select clubs' City Connect uniforms over the past couple of years and have been wondering when the Phillies will get one, you're far from alone, and in fact, both the team and Nike have heard you.
The Phils will have City Connect uniforms in 2024 and there's a chance they could be revealed at some point this year, this according to Todd Zolecki's Phillies Beat newsletter.
Just a heads up though, no green St. Patrick's Day jerseys this spring.
There will be no green Phillies jerseys or caps this year on St. Patrick’s Day in Clearwater. Nike has a four-plus-one recommendation for MLB teams and their uniforms, meaning it prefers to produce only four sets of uniforms: one home, one road and two alternates. The Phillies' alternates are the home creams and the home powder blues. The club occasionally wears red jerseys on the road. It is unclear if they will return or not in 2023.
But the Phillies’ City Connect uniforms will debut in 2024, and they could be revealed sometime this year.
“They’re very cool, and fans are going to love them,” executive vice president Dave Buck said. [MLB.com]
The Phillies took righthander Noah Song as a Rule 5 draft selection from Boston, but after being away from the mound for three years, he's a longshot to make the team.
Still, he's in camp to give it his best, and team president Dave Dombrowski does like his upside – and the fact that it's not coming at much of a risk at all should things not work out.
We touched on it Thursday that Song's been away from baseball because of his enlistment in the Navy and that the transfer of his status to selected reserves is finally affording him an opportunity.
And if he does somehow manage to make it, man, wouldn't that be the stuff of legends.
Wrote Corey Seidman of the idea:
Song might someday have one of the most unique stories in major-league history. Some early chapters might take place in Philadelphia.
Or it might not work out for the Phillies and cost them the grand total of $50,000.
“To be honest, I had heard of the Rule 5 draft before but I didn’t know anything about it,” Song admitted. “I didn’t know any of the rules associated with it. I definitely didn’t think I was going to get picked. Nobody expected it.
“I think really the most important thing is recognizing the fact that I really enjoy both (baseball and the navy). I looked at it like I had two Plan A’s. When I got my wings, I was able to accomplish one of those. And now getting here, this is a great organization. I feel really blessed and really lucky.” [NBCSP]
Scott Kingery is in camp, healthier than he's been in years, just as confident too, and with a couple of bench spots up for grabs.
The time for him to be a core part of the Phillies' lineup passed a long time ago, but after working with hitting coach Kevin Long over the winter, he has the chance to at least salvage a major league career after numerous setbacks.
And a homer off Aaron Nola in live batting practice is a good start.
Kingery saw an opportunity this offseason, ahead of the final guaranteed year of his six-year, $24 million contract. He was healthy for the first time in a while. In 2021, the utility player underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder. Before that, he was rehabbing to “not get the surgery I ended up getting,” in his telling. But in Arizona this winter, he had time, he had health, and he had Phillies hitting coach Kevin Long at his disposal.
Before Kingery reported to camp, he told Long that this is the first time in years he’s felt confident in the batter’s box. He’s even said he’s felt more confident in the batter’s box than he does in the field at times — which is saying something, since Kingery’s strength has long been his defense.
Long appreciated the open communication, but he didn’t need to hear it from Kingery; he could see the confidence himself. When they were working out in Arizona, Kingery started to get more vocal during batting practice.
“He’d say stuff like, ‘Wow, that is a laser,’” Long said. “Or, ‘Oh my God, that ball is touched.’ Or, ‘Huh, what are they going to do now?’ Just little comments like that. That’s what hitters do when they’re rolling. When they know that things are going well and they can feel it." [The Inquirer]
From the other half of The Inquirer beat, Aaron Nola has been one of the most durable starting pitchers in baseball and one of its higher-quality ones as well.
It takes a lot of discipline and training for Nola to maintain that level of consistency though.
How much? Like Roy Halladay levels of work.
An excerpt from Scott Lauber's in-depth piece:
Nola is known for his meticulous preparation. His work ethic and attention to detail are unassailable. From running in the outfield and soft-tissue treatment in the trainer’s room to weight training and hydration, the Phillies co-ace and longest-tenured player is less a professional athlete than a machine.
It isn’t coincidental that Nola has made more starts (143) and thrown more innings (871⅔) than any pitcher in baseball since 2018. Only Nola and the Yankees’ Gerrit Cole have worked 200-plus innings in three of the last four full seasons. The other 32 pitchers in Phillies camp have combined to do it once (Zack Wheeler in 2021).
There’s plenty of quality to go with all that quantity. Nola, who will turn 30 in June, has the third-most strikeouts (1,007) since 2018 and a 122 ERA+, meaning he’s 22% better than average adjusted for league and ballpark. He finished third in the Cy Young voting in 2018 and fourth last season.
But it’s Nola’s reliability that sets him apart in an era when starters are asked to pitch less than ever. As sure as the Phanatic will provide between-innings high jinks and Harry Kalas’ rendition of “High Hopes” will play after every Phillies victory at Citizens Bank Park, Nola will take the ball every fifth game.
And he’s about to get paid for it. [The Inquirer]
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