Big League Stew contributor David Brown continues his spring swing through Florida's Grapefruit League with another stop in Clearwater to visit the Phillies. Because they're the World (Series) champions, they get two helpings. Dave'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.
Hey Brunswick Stewies!
Again, the mail is running late. We're going to keep this one short; they're kicking me out of the motel in a few hours and it's a haul to Ft. Myers down the coast. These players get started even earlier in the morning than in the regular season. It's not uncommon to see grunts out there at 6, 6:30 a.m. working out, with some players remaining well after the sun sets. They really do work for a living, despite the illusion of it only being a game. Ah, boo-hoo.
To break the monotony, sometimes guys become prank machines. That's the case with Shane Victorino, who did something to Jimmy Rollins to make J-Roll wanna "get him, I'm gonna get him" during an in-game interview on Philly TV. In the pic, it looks like J-Roll's gonna lay a giant flower lei on the Flyin' Hawaiian, but it's actually resistance training bands.
The bands for a good prop for Rollins, who off-camera threatened to lasso Victorino, completely distracting him from whatever the broadcasters were asking. That got boring, so J-Roll just crashed the interview and finished it for Victorino. It must have been hard for Shane to be quiet. The Phillies clubhouse tunnel — where I'm standing — is down the left-field corner at Bright House Networks Field, a reason these shots are possible.
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Old school reunion: The Rays and Phillies met for the first time since the World Series, with much better playing conditions than in Philly in October. Also, Pat Burrell was back in Clearwater. The fans gave him nice hands — even after he hit a double as one of the bad guys — he signed autographs and made a friendly visit to the Phils' clubhouse after the game. "The response I got was very special," Burrell said. "It's something I won't forget."
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Nippon Ham Fighters: Kyle Kendrick got the start and did well, especially with his sinker. It's only one outing, but he seems much more confident than last year going into the battle for the fifth starter's spot. He's going to do everything to not get traded to Japan. Here's what he told reporters (I happened to be there, too): "I think they know what I can do. If I pitch well, things will take care of itself. I can't worry about who's behind me. I'll do what I can do. I'm happy with the way things went today. I have to keep it going."
Friendly face: The Phillies didn't take batting practice and were locked in the clubhouse for nearly 2 1/2 hours because Don Fehr was leading a union meeting. Perhaps Fehr and J.C. Romero worked out Romero's little misunderstanding that cost him a 50-game suspension.
That's a wrap. One more game on the Gulf Coast before we swing east. Hope you're having fun following along.