With more snow to come, Kram continues to display the most recent yearly yard signs
It was cold. The sun shown warmly, and the parking lot was a bit clearer than previous visits to Coca Cola Park. But it was cold. It was my first Pig Day, though. I hadn’t been before due to scheduling problems and just the general lack of need–I probably have more tickets than I can use, already. However, I thought I’d give it a ‘go’ this year, just for fun. But it was cold.
As we arrived around 10AM, there was a significant line for tickets. Because of the computers and ticket printers and credit card machines, attempts to move the ticket operations inside failed. It was cold. The first-base concourse was open at both entrances, and lined with propane heaters because….well, you know.
I don’t have any concrete proof, but I still maintain that to get the absolute best selection of seats, you should always deal with the ticket office directly–either in person or over the phone. It is my belief that the web site doesn’t always show every available seat–for a variety of reasons. This was supported by some of the news from folks in line, who reported better selection by standing in the cold compared with ordering online. Of course, this is also comparing years and the online access for single game isn’t until later in the day–so those are also factors. A nice side effect is that ticket purchases from the office do not carry any additional fees for delivery or “convenience.”
There were free hot dogs and pork sandwiches available at the portables, and coffee and hot chocolate. There were sodas and chips as well. The Fan Services counter was open for club memberships. DiPro and I signed up for the IronHeads again, if only for the T-Shirt. We’ll try to get to the beer tasting this season–we bailed last year due to work/scheduling conflicts. The tailgate stool is….portable. It folds, which is nice, but the steadiness and ability to hold a full-grown man is in doubt. And depending on how hard you’ve been tailgating, it may have the duel function of a sobriety test. But what the heck? A ticket, a T-Shirt, a stool, a coupon for a hot dog…still a pretty good deal for $30.
But I digress.
The Majestic Clubhouse Store was doing a brisk business. I supported the cause by picking up one of the old batting practice caps. I like the New Era 39THIRTY design for comfort reasons, and you know, once they’re gone….
The IronPigs Charities table had some of the old bobbles for sale, and some raffle tickets for three game-used Saturday jerseys. Rupp, Galvis, and Morgan if I recall. I guess I didn’t win, because I didn’t hear anything, but I did enter. Come to think of it, I haven’t heard of any “26 Days” winners recently, either.
We spent about an hour, and said hello to Kurt Landes, Matt Provence, and NoiseNation fellows Dean and RD, as well as new and old IronPigs staffers.
Oh, and DiPro got his jacket back. So thank goodness, we can all rest easy.
Now for some updates on potential IronPigs players, and others:
- Tony Gwynn, Jr.: He’s been in a few games and played some nice defense. While I didn’t get to see all the games this week, I did see him square a couple pitches even if they didn’t fall for hits. He’s leading off and starting in Center today.
- Reid Brignac: Like Gwynn, he doesn’t have a hit, but has had playing time. He’s been at 3B and SS, and did commit one error. I still have him as the IronPigs opening day shortstop.
- Cameron Rupp: He started the game yesterday catching for David Buchanan. I expect him to be the opening day catcher for the IronPigs
- Lou Marson: He had a double the other day in short work. He should be in Allentown with Rupp, unless something happens to Nieves or Chooch.
- Tyson Gillies: He made a nice catch yesterday in the 4-0 loss to the Yankees, and drew a walk in his only plate appearance. He’s been in a couple games without a hit. He’s in competition with Gwynn for the IronPigs CF job, and with Castro for LF. He may begin the season on the IronPigs bench, depending on health and performance.
- Leandro Castro: It’s good to see him get some time with the MLB guys. As above, he’s not hit yet, but has been playing well otherwise.
- Zach Collier and Kelly Dugan: The young OFs have had some looks as well. I still expect them to be back at Reading, but we’ll likely see both with the IronPigs before 2014 is over.
- Cesar Hernandez: He’s been getting some practice reps at SS and 3B still. In game play, he started at 2B yesterday and played the whole game getting on base with a bunt-single. His only other appearance was also at 2B. There’s been no word of using him in the OF thus far. I’ve got him as the opening day 2B with the IronPigs with Jim Negrych as the backup.
- Darrin Ruf: He’s been in each game, in LF, at 1B and as DH. He’s hitting the ball batting .300 so far with one home run. He seems to be making a case for a bench spot with the Phillies.
- John Mayberry, Jr.: Not a candidate to be an IronPig, really, he did go 2/3 with a homer in the one game where he played. He’s in competition with Ruf and Frandsen for the RH bench bat spot.
- Bobby Abreu: Also not an IronPig candidate; he’s looked good at the plate and did start in RF yesterday for the Phillies. At this juncture, he’s a virtual lock for the LH bench bat position. Not to mention the Phillies open in Texas with the DH in effect.
- Clete Thomas: The strong-armed outfielder got some playing time this week. I expect him to open as the RF for the IronPigs. He’s scheduled to sub-in in center today.
- Andres Blanco: He appeared briefly this week as a backup SS and as a pinch runner. At this juncture I’ve got him on the IronPigs bench as well. He should get some time at short today.
- Cole Hamels: Certainly not an IronPig, but his health may impact a roster spot. He threw a bull-pen this week and reported no problems. At this point, he’s not considered injured at all, just behind schedule as far as strength and throwing. It’s not wise for him to rush back, but it’s not inconceivable that he would open on the active roster for the Phillies rather than the DL–although a retroactive date may allow the Phillies an extra pitcher for the first part of April. This will be interesting to watch.
- Jon Pettibone: He’s still considered a candidate for a starting rotation spot in Philadelphia, but shoulder inflammation bought him a cortisone injection and a few days rest. He threw late this week and declared himself a “full go.” For Jon, my first hope is good health for his shoulder, as those are always scary. I kind of feel like he may open with the IronPigs if he’s fully healthy–ready to be the “first man up” in case of rotation difficulty in Philadelphia. This is something to watch. If he’s behind in his throwing schedule, he may have to open on the DL as well.
- Ethan Martin: He was unable to complete an inning–or get an out–in his MLB time this week due to shoulder weakness. The diagnosis was then reported as capsule inflammation and triceps tendinitis following an MRI. He’s been shut down for three weeks. While this diagnosis is compatible with cortisone injection as well, it’s not clear if Ethan is a candidate. He was being stretched out for starting or long relief as this occurred. It’s unclear how he’ll return, but this should set him back a ways. Look for him to stay behind in Clearwater when the teams come North. This may hasten his conversion to relief, but we’ll see. My thought is that it would be easier to take a stretched-out Martin to the bull-pen, than the reverse if that was what was needed. However, with this setback they may just work him back in as a relief option unless the Phillies are desperate for starters either in Philadelphia or Allentown.
- Jeff Manship and Sean O’Sullivan have both looked good in backup-starter-type roles.
- Jake Diekman has been on point according to reports, but did yield a couple runs the other day in the game. He’s got a pretty good grip on a spot in Philly, but how well he’s throwing will likely determine how often the Philly coaches are willing to use him.
- BJ Rosenberg has gotten high marks from observers in Clearwater. There was talk about keeping him stretched out as a backup starter or long-man. You’d think that would be even more likely now with the Martin injury, so we’ll have to keep an eye on that.
- Ken Giles: The speedballer will likely find himself as the IronPigs’ “closer” if he continues to throw well and maintain health. He looked pretty good yesterday.
- Jeremy Horst: He didn’t look like he as on the same page with Valle yesterday. He’s a veteran, though, so look for him to work his way back and challenge for a spot in the Philly ‘pen. If not, he’ll start with us and be at the top of the list for call-up.
- Shawn Camp: The veteran looked good yesterday. He may need to start in Allentown to make it to Philadelphia. I’m unclear about his opt-out status.
- Luis Garcia and Cesar Jimenez look like IronPigs candidates. Mario Hollands as well.
- Kevin Munson: He didn’t impress me yesterday. However, it’s early. Recall, he HAS to earn a spot with the Phillies or return from whence he came. (Or trade, whatevs.)
- Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez (or MAG): He didn’t look sharp yesterday taking over 50 pitches to work less than two innings. His curve looked good, but he had trouble locating his fastball, and couldn’t keep it in the 90s consistently. His cutter and slider were questionable. His splitter might be a weapon, but he’s going to have to harness it better. He needs time. He needs strength. And he might need to cut down on his number of offerings in order to be more consistent. I’ve got him in Reading or LHV to start–and I do believe he’s a starter and not a ‘pen piece. I don’t see any way he can make a move for the fifth starting spot in Philadelphia by the end of the month. I know it’s early, but right now I’d put him in Reading and let him develop some confidence pounding the strike zone and fine-tuning his offerings before a stint in Allentown and an eventual turn in Philly by late August or September if he’s still got anything left in his arm. They’ve got him for three years. I don’t see any reason to rush it at this juncture and I wouldn’t run his innings up to high either.
- David Buchanan: Started yesterday’s game and pitched well. Look for him as the ‘dark horse’ should the Phillies need an extra starter at the beginning of the season, otherwise, he’ll be a starter with the ‘Pigs.
- Tommy Joseph and Sebastian Valle: I’ve still got them starting in Reading, with Rupp and Marson in Allentown. Valle was in yesterday, and Tommy will get some time today.
- Maikel Franco: The 3B/1B prospect will get some more time at third today. It’s difficult to predict, but I’m still seeing Franco and Biddle starting in Allentown. It could cost Henson/Blanco/Negrych/Overbeck a spot, though. If things are tight early, Franco and Biddle could still be in Reading for a bit. I don’t think either have much to prove there, but I’ve been wrong before. Franco’s a lot younger than Asche was last year at this time. We’ll see Biddle again today.
- Phillippe Aumont: The big guy is still struggling a bit with control. He’s hit the backstop already this young spring season. His stuff is so good, though, we’re just hoping he can harness it regardless of where he lands to begin the season.
If you stuck with me this long, here’s a stab at the opening day lineup, and starting rotation:
Rotation: Manship, O’Sullivan, Buchanan, Smith, Pettibone
Enjoy the game today,