DB's Grapefruit Getaway: Watching Hamels hurl at Bright House

David Brown
February 24, 2009
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Big League Stew contributor David Brown is in Florida this week for a spring swing through the Grapefruit League. He'll be posting throughout the day — both to the Stew and his Twitter feed — plus he'll also be filing a report each night from his day's action, complete with photos, videos and observations. His trip begins with a visit to sunny Clearwater, where Cole Hamels and the Phillies are ready to mount their World Series defense.

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Say Hey, Big League Stewies!

Stew Force One just dropped me off in sunny Florida for Spring Training '08 '09 (is it that time already?). In all of my years as a reporter/blogger/what have you, this is my first spring fling and I'm pretty pumped about it. The other writers can be a dour bunch, so it's all old hat for them. Not for me, though. Sliding drills can only whet my baseball appetite.

First stop today was Clearwater, home of the World Expletive Champions, the Philadelphia Phillies. Cole Hamels had a bullpen session and the most impressive thing about it was the F-bombs he dropped. After seemingly every pitch, he was like Chase Utley on national TV with an expletive. None of the pitches were going where he wanted them to. I assume he'll fix that.

Afterward Hamels said, "There might be an F-bomb out there you hear, yeah. Heh. I'm always like that. I'm just so competitive. I expect perfection; that's it. And the hard part is, the last time I pitched, I was in the World Series. You go from "boom! boom! boom!" to starting back over. It's hard to start from square one again. You just have to ease that competitiveness out a little, and that's where I'm at right now."

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Here's video of that throwing session, though you can't hear the naughty parts ...

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As you can see in the above photo, Mike Schmidt is here, helping out with hitting. A Hall of Famer., but he's not a huge guy. Still looks in solid shape, just grayer and older. It's not that he's intimidating, but he definitely has a presence. Is it the ‘Stache? When I went to the car to grab something, a couple of Phillies fans asked me how to get into the park? I dunno guys, I just work here. But I told them Schmidt was here and they got excited.

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Out-of-context line that struck me funny: Bill Conlin from the Philadelphia Daily News says, "Ted Sizemore was a heckuva great guy." Word.

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The Phillies did sliding drills, first putting sweatpants over their baseball pants. So they don't get their pants dirty/torn? To pad their butts? To slide better? Jayson Werth thought the whole thing was silly. OK, but if there's some kind of sliding controversy come the pennant race, he'll wish he put the time in with a pure heart back in February. Man, October is a long way away, isn't it?

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Note to self: Bring wire-cutters next time I head to Bright House Field.

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I love listening to Charlie Manuel. It reminds me of Robert Duvall's character in "Days of Thunder." My belief is that either Charlie or Harry Hodge is the most from-North Carolina-sounding person ever, even if Chuck is actually from Va. Rubbin' is racin', Cole!

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I'm just getting warmed up. Much more tomorrow. Got a shindig tonight with the governor of Florida, Charlie Crist. Wonder what turned his hair so white?

— Dave

xoxoxoxoxoxoxo