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March 2013

Domonic Brown Touched By A (California) Angel: Wally Joyner Fuels Strong Start

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Domonic Brown looks like a new man this Spring Training.  Having gained reportedly 10 pounds of muscle this offseason, the Zephyrhills, Florida resident spent much of the offseason in nearby Clearwater.   Therefore, Brown was one of the first players Phillies Assistant Hitting Coach and former California Angels start Wally Joyner met in camp.  For Brown, the two meeting was supernatural.

The Inquirer's Matt Gelb asked Brown what helped contribute to his strong start this Spring and Brown pointed to Joyner:

"It seemed like God maybe sent an angel down toward me."

Joyner ponted to an adjustment to Brown's hands:

"We straightened his hands out a little bit, allowing his wrists to cock," Joyner said. "He's a big boy. He looks great. We want to take advantage of that size and leverage. That's one of the assets that Ryan Howard has. And he uses it. He has a lot of leverage. He stays behind it."

After going 1 for 3 today with a walk, Brown is now hitting .417 in the early going this Spring.  He has two home runs, three RBI and three walks.  His OPS is 1.563.    Of course that will not be sustainable, but what would we be saying if Brown was say, 1 for 11?  The hot start already has Phillies fans excited and thinking of the possibilities of what a renewed Brown could bring to the Phillies' lineup.  

The left-handed Joyner likely will be working more with Brown, though Steve Henderson is the primary hitting coach.  The new arrangement is designed to give hitters more time with their coach in an era that is heavy on film.    Having worked with coaches Milt Thompson, Greg Gross, and now Joyner and Henderson, Brown may have found his comfort zone.

Hopefully Brown's confidence can help him be the player that Phillies General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr. refused to trade for Cliff Lee or Roy Halladay. The untouchable prospect has finally been touched.

Hittingcoaches

Finally, a coach that speaks to Brown?


Phillies Ticket Sales Behind Pace Of Previous Seasons

TicketsfrankPhoto: Philliedelphia/Frank Klose

Ticket sales at Citizens Bank Park are very slow right now, but there is not much to worry about.

Remember last year and the year before, when tickets to any game were scarce (unless you have connections or you use StubHub)? Last season, five games alone were sold out completely in under a week of going on sale. 

John Weber, Phillies Vice President of sales and ticket operations, says that nobody is worried and that this is a great opportunity as there are still tickets available for every game - except Opening Day.

Today, any game - including those with Cole Hamels and Carlos Ruiz bobbleheads - can still be purchased individually, except for Opening Day, which is part of a Six Game Pack.

The overall decline is dramatic - a half-million seats, down to about 2.6 million from at least 3.1 million a year ago.

Fans might wonder if that could spell trouble sustaining one of the biggest payrolls in the league.

It's important to put the figures in context, Weber said.

Sales are strong. It's just that the last few years have been "unbelievable," he said, with a sellout streak that lasted 257 games, and more attendance each of those years than any club, with one exception, the New York Yankees in 2010.


Weber continued to say that there's nothing to worry about and that he is confident that sales will pick up as the time period between now and Opening Day shrinks.

So get them while they're hot - and while there's a lot!

You can find tickets at www.phillies.com/tickets.

H/T: Philly.com

 

 


Phillies Chop Braves With Ryan Howard Home Run, Strong Cole Hamels Start

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More positive news out of Clearwater today as the Phillies downed the Atlanta Braves 10-5.    On the mound, Cole Hamels was sharp with three strong innings in which he only allowed one unearned run.   Offensively the Phillies saw continued offensive progress from Ryan Howard as he belted his first Spring Training home run.

The Phillies chased Braves starter Paul Maholm after two and two-thirds innings after five earned runs with six hits and two walks.  The Phillies also got two off of Craig Kimbrel and another three of of Cristhian Martinez.  

Ben Revere's leadoff debut for the Phillies went very well.  Revere was on base three of the four times he went to the plate with two hits and a walk.    Revere likely will get many chances to lead off this Spring, considering shortstop Jimmy Rollins is headed to the World Baseball Classic.  

Some other positive notes to come out of today's game:

  • Darin Ruf snapped an 0 for 9 start by going 2 for 3 including a double
  • Mike Adams made his Phillies pitching debut by throwing a scoreless fourth inning.
  • Jake Diekman made his second Spring Training appearance with a scoreless fifth.
  • Prospect Ethan Martin pitched two scoreless innings, allowing only one hit.
  • Michael Young was 1 for 2 with a walk, driving in two runs on a double.

The Phillies are back in action tomorrow against the Yankees in Tampa.


Cole Hamels Starts Against Braves, Jimmy Rollins Hitting Second

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The Phillies and the Braves will meet today for the first time this spring. It's not that big of a deal, being that it is only spring training, but it will also showcase how two of the top three teams in the NL East will bare against each other headed into the 2013 campaign.

Cole Hamels, who started last Saturday's game against the Astros, will make his seccond start of the spring against the NL East rival Braves. Hamels threw two innings on Saturday, allowing a hit as well as striking out one batter. You can probably guess that Hamels will go a little longer this afternoon, most likely three or four innings. Last season, Hamels held the Braves to a .221 OBA. 

Paul Maholm threw two perfect innings of ball against the Yankees last Saturday in what proved to be a Braves loss. Maholm was traded to Atlanta last July from Chicago. In 2012, Maholm held the Phillies to a .306 OBA while allowing a total of 11 hits in 36 at-bats against the Phils.

Notes:

  • Darin Ruf will return to the lineup. Darin Ruf was given a couple days off after suffering from a sore arm due to the adjustment from right field to left. 
  • Chase Utley will return to the lineup after not playing in Tuesday's or yesterday's games due to field conditions and traveling, respectively.

  •  Jimmy Rollins will be hitting in the two-hole today. According to Philly.com's Matt Gelb, it is the first time Rollins will be hitting second in the lineup since 2004.

  • Cole Hamels, Ethan Martin, Jonathan Pettibone, Mike Adamsand Jake Diekman are scheduled to pitch this afternoon.

Phillies Lineup:

  1. Ben Revere CF
  2. Jimmy Rollins SS
  3. Chase Utley 2B
  4. Ryan Howard 1B
  5. Michael Young 3B
  6. Dom Brown RF
  7. Darin Ruf LF
  8. Laynce Nix DH
  9. Erik Kratz C

Cole Hamels starts.

Braves Lineup:

  1. Tyler Pastornicky  2B
  2. Jayson Heyward RF
  3. Justin Upton LF
  4. B.J. Upton DH 
  5. Chris Johnson 3B 
  6. Evan Gattis C 
  7. Ernesto Mejia 1B 
  8. Todd Cunningham CF 
  9. Ramiro Pena SS

Paul Maholm will start.

TV: Comcast Network

Follow Erik on Twitter @ErikSeyboldPHI.

 


Gagne Scores As Flyers Soundly Defeat Caps, 4-1


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The Flyers played strong early and managed to keep the Washington Capitals in check en-route to a 4-1 win at home Wednesday night in Simon Gagne’s return to Philadelphia.

Philadelphia (10-11-1), coming off of a disappointing loss to Toronto on Monday, wasted no time establishing the momentum in their team’s favor early as Claude Giroux scored to give the Flyers
a 1-0 lead after just 28 seconds of game time. It was the fourth goal in a game’s first minute for the Flyers, who were in control for just about the whole game.

Wayne Simmonds followed his Captain’s lead soon after, netting his eighth goal of the season on a Power Play four minutes into the first period.

The Flyers converted two of three power Play opportunities into goals, continuing improvement in an area that had troubled them in the season’s early-goings. Philadelphia now ranks ninth (9th)
in Power Play percentage at 20.5%, or about 3% better than two weeks ago, and the increase has produced tangible results, with the Flyers’ goals per game rising about a half of a goal (+ 0.5).

Washington (7-11-1) played rather passive hockey early, and did not score until the game’s final three minutes, courtesy of RW Joel Ward. They often looked slower than the Flyers’ skaters,
and were out-shot as well, much to the detriment of goalie Braden Holtby. Holtby stopped just 14 of 18 shots before being pulled five minutes before the end of the second period.

Gagne, who spent his first ten seasons in Philadelphia, scored 3:55 into the second period for his first goal of the season, after scoring zero in 11 games with the LA Kings. The tally was Gagne’s 260th as a Flyer, and it gave the Flyers a commanding 3-0 lead. Max Talbot’s goal 11 minutes later made it 4-0.

The Flyers play again Saturday when the Ottawa Senators travel to Philadelphia for a noon game at the Wells Fargo Center, where the Flyers are 6-3-1 this season. The team’s 21 points puts them
at third in the Atlantic division behind the 10-5-4 New Jersey Devils, who have 24 points. The Flyers have yet to reach the .500 mark this season.

The Capitals remain in last place in the Southeast division with 15 points, behind the Florida Panthers (16 points). They travel to Winnipeg Saturday to play the Jets, who are engaged in
a three-way-tie with the Carolina Hurricanes and the Tampa Bay Lightning for first place in the Southeast with 19 points each.


Jayson Werth: Phillies Bigger Threat To Nats Than Braves

Werthnats

Photo: Philliedelphia/Steve Trapani

Let's face it, the NL East is probably going to be one of the best divisions to watch in all of baseball this season. The Nationals are coming off of their first ever division title, the Braves have re-stocked their outfield in the brothers Upton, and the Phillies have all of their key players returning helathy. 

It's almost certain that the New York Mets and the Miami Marlins will be out of contention by Opening Day, but there is a big question that will be answered over 162 games: Who is the best in the NL East?

Former-Phillie and current Washington National Jayson Werth spoke with the Washington Post's Adam Kilgore on his team's chances on repeating a division title in 2013. With the Braves' new acquisitions and the Phillies coming back healthy, the Nationals won't have it easy en route to a repeat.

Jayson Werth was asked if considered the Braves or Philadelphia Phillies a bigger threat. Werth, the former Phillie, did not hesitate.

“Phillies,” he said. “I think everybody is writing them off. They played good in September, when they were healthy. They’re not going to roll over, that’s for sure.”

And about the Braves? “Yeah, the Braves got the Upton brothers,” Werth said. “But they lost [Martin] Prado and Chipper.”


It's kind of a good feeling to know that the Phillies are still listed as a "threat" by other teams. But the way they are viewed and the way they play are completely different. The Braves will most likely take offense to Werth's comments, which can only heat up their own rivalry even more. For the Phillies, it can stand as a source of momentum.

The Phillies and Nationals will meet for the first time this season on May 24-26th, so there is plenty of time for more trash talking.

H/T: RBTS

Follow Erik on Twitter @ErikSeyboldPHI.


Bats belt 10 hits, relievers struggle in loss to Twins

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Domonic Brown continued his hot start to the spring, going 1-for-2 with an RBI double and two runs scored in the Phillies' 12-5 loss to the Twins.

Right out of the gate, all looked well for the Phillies in their fifth spring training game of the season. Then, as several pitchers continued their tryout to make the 25-man roster, the struggles that come started.

The relievers struggled in the later innings and despite the offense belting out 10 hits, the Phillies fell for the third time this spring, 12-5.

From the start, the Phillies looked solid at the plate. Ben Revere, a former Twin, led off the game with a single and stole second. Domonic Brown followed with a walk. Ryan Howard singled home Revere and advanced Brown to third. Brown scored on a sac fly by Carlos Ruiz, capping a two-run inning.

Making his spring debut was the Phillies' likely choice for the fifth starter spot. John Lannan did allow a second-inning run on an RBI single by Aaron Hicks. But that was the only damage in Lannan's two innings. He allowed one run on three hits while walking one and striking out one.

Ruiz picked up his second RBI of the game in the third on a single scoring Brown, who reached on a fielding error.

But the Twins quickly cut the lead back to one on an RBI single by Trevor Plouffe. That hit came off Adam Morgan, who allowed four runs (one earned) on five hits in 1 2/3 innings of work. An error leading off the fourth set up a big inning for the Twins. John Mayberry Jr. committed a fielding error that allowed Pedro Florimon to reach third. Hicks doubled to score Florimon and would eventually score himself on a three-run home run by Ryan Doumit. Doumit's blast came off Kyle Simon, but two of the unearned runs were still charged to Morgan.

The Phillies answered with a two-run fifth. Revere reached on an error to lead off the inning. Brown would double to score Revere two batters later. Ruiz notched a third RBI on a single to score Brown, cutting the Twins' lead back to one.

But the Twins would pile on from there. Three runs scored in the sixth off Justin DeFratus. Three more scored off B.J. Rosenberg in the seventh.

There were a few positive bullpen performances, as Antonio Bastardo and Mauricio Robles worked scoreless innings.

And there were plenty of positives at the plate. Ryan Howard continued to see the ball well, going 1-for-2. Domonic Brown continued his spring training tear going 1-for-2 with a double and an RBI. Carlos Ruiz was 2-for-2 with three RBI.

The Phillies are back in action tomorrow when they host the Atlanta Braves in Clearwater at 1:05 p.m.

Kevin Durso is a contributor for Philliedelphia. You can follow him on twitter @KDursoPhilsNet.

Around the NHL: Volume 1

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Western Conference

  1. Chicago hasn’t lost in regulation yet.  With 35 points in 19 games played, they’re on pace for 88 points in a 48 game season.  Considering the Columbus Blue Jackets had 65 in a full 82 game season, you have to be impressed with their start.
  2. St. Louis is finding serious twine on their power play, ranked 1st in the league at 30 percent. 
  3. Detroit is a point out of the playoffs, but I see them making it.  They have two of the best playmakers in Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datysuk, and Niklas Kronwall is one of the hardest open-ice hitters in the game.  Just ask Jakub Voracek.
  4. Joe Thornton has to be considered one of the greatest passers of this generation.  He has 15 assists and might reach 800 for his career total by the season’s end.
  5. Anaheim is still quacking at second in the conference. With the team aging (Saku Koivu and Teemu Selanne are always rumored to be retiring), this might be the last year for another Cup run.

 

  Sabres1

Eastern Conference

  1. The Buffalo Sabres are thanking their lucky sharp blades Thomas Vanek is producing like an Industrial Revolution-era factory right now. He’s first in goals in the league, but they’re still last place in the conference, partly because of several key injuries, including former Flyer Ville Leino, who signed last season for the GDP of Canada. Last season in 71 games, Leino had 8 goals. 
  2. So how have the Bruins been so successful the last couple of years? They’re huge physical specimens, everyone on the squad can play on both ends of the ice, and they always have steady goaltending, even with Tim Thomas missing.  Simple, yet effective.
  3. If the season ended today, I’d have to give the Vezina to Montreal’s Carey Price.  He’s tied for the lead in wins with 10, with a goals against of 1.90.  Also, the team that ended in last in the conference last year is now on top of it with 27 points.
  4. The Penguins are hoping Evgeni Malkin’s concussion isn’t the lingering, season-ender that Sidney Crosby dealt with a season ago.  He has been out since he went down February 22nd against the Florida Panthers.
  5. I don’t think you can blame the Washington Capital’s woes solely on the broad shoulders of Alex Ovechkin.  He still has 8 goals and 7 assists on an underpowered team. 

 

 

 


Flyers look to rebound vs. struggling Caps


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The Flyers, coming off of a deflating 4-2 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs, look to inch their way closer to the .500 mark as they host the Washington Capitals, winners of two straight, on
Wednesday night.

Philadelphia (9-11-1) played strong hockey in narrowing the deficit to two goals late in the third period of Monday’s contest but were held-off by Toronto goalie Ben Scrivens, who took over in net after starter James Reimer was injured two weeks ago in the Leafs’ 5-2 victory over the Flyers.

Scott Hartnell, playing in just his second game since returning from injury, scored his first goal of the season in the second quarter, a deflection assisted by Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek.
The twenty-three-year-old Voracek, who also scored a goal, enters Wednesday’s game on a six-game point streak, with five goals and nine assists during that stretch.

The Capitals (7-10-1) come into play on a slightly different note, with impressive victories over New Jersey and Carolina in successive games. Goalie Braden Holtby made thirty-three saves in a shutout win over the Hurricanes, a welcome performance for a club that is struggling mightily to meet expectations this season, much like the Flyers.

Much of Washington’s struggles this year can be traced back to the goaltending. While not many of the Capitals’ losses have been blowouts, their goalies rank twenty-sixth (26th) in Goals against average at 3.2. Holtby himself sports a 3.37 mark for the season, though his performance has been slightly better than the numbers suggest over his last few games.

Star LW Alex Ovechkin has also been the focus of much criticism this year. Even with his hat trick Saturday, his eight goals place him at thirteenth (13th) in the NHL, and his tally of fourteen points overall is very underwhelming for a player of his caliber. C Nicklas Backstrom has also under-performed, collecting just thirteen points, and just one goal, this season.

The Flyers, after a hard loss Monday, will need to continue the strong, aggressive play that they have been showing in the last several games to compete against the Capitals. The Flyers have improved in many offensive and defensive categories lately, and it is evident in their play. They managed to out-hit and out-shoot the Maple Leafs despite losing, and were competitive until the end.

Wednesday’s game will be the second between the Flyers and Capitals this season, the first being a 3-2 Washington victory. It is also expected to be the first game LW Simon Gagne will play for the Flyers after being acquired from the Kings on Tuesday. He faces the task of helping to ease the loss of C Matt Read, who could miss up to six weeks after tearing muscles in his rib cage during last week’s win over Pittsburgh.

Gagne spent ten seasons with the team that drafted him in the first round of the 1998 NHL Draft, scoring 259 goals (524 points overall) before leaving town following the ’09-’10 season. Injuries have hampered the veteran, who has played just 97 games in the last two seasons combined and just eleven this season. Gagne had offseason surgery to correct a problem in his neck.


Flyers Reacquire Simon Gagne From the Los Angeles Kings

Gagne
Photo Courtesy Wikipedia Commons

To strengthen their 2013 campaign, the Flyers turned to the past.   According to Frank Seravalli of the Philadelphia Daily News, the Flyers have acquired old friend Simon Gagne from the Los Angeles Kings:

Unable to hit the .500 mark after six attempts, the Flyers hope Gagne will help make up for some of the offensive production from the loss of Matt Read, who will be out six weeks.

Dust off those old jerseys.