“I’m not concerned; it’s only spring training.” Famous last words. Except when you can’t throw a baseball without pain, like Cliff Lee. Or you still have trouble with a swollen ankle two months after you twisted it, like Chase Utley. So there’s no cause for concern that Cole Hamels got tagged for a 2 run homer early, because he was just working on his fastball (which evidently still needs work).
So there was old Phillies manager Nick Leyva coaching first base for today’s opponent, the Pittsburgh Pirates. Nick was only 35 years old when Lee Thomas imported him to be the Phillies manager in 1989. The team that year only won 67 games, a total the Phils of this year may not reach. By early 1991 Leyva was gone, but baseball graciously recycled him as a coach in various organizations. Leyva’s time managing the Phils in 1989 was made famous by Michael Jack Schmidt’s tearful retirement speech on May 28. Among the many reasons he cried might have been how awful the Phils were at the time.
Mike can be seen this spring training helping other ballplayers with their dream to be successful major leaguers. One of the few candidates on the Phils to be a rising star is Cody Asche, and Schmitty was in his beekeeper sun hat yesterday hanging with Cody and his compression sleeve, keeping the swelling down from having gotten plunked with a pitch on Monday.
This is in addition to Chase Utley having taken Cody under his wing on a regular basis, including sharing adjacent lockers.
Although the Pirates manager, Clint Hurdle, came over to Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg around the 8th inning to ask if they could play another inning because he had shlepped some relievers from Bradenton who hadn’t gotten into the game yet (including the ex-Phil, Hot Rod Lincoln – see story here), Ryne evidently didn’t get word up to any of the announcers upstairs. So as Russ Canzler dug out the throw from shortstop for the last official putout of the game, Tommy Mac started to so the TV wrap with newbie Ben Davis, and Chris Wheeler, oblivious to what was happening, announced the final totals and attendance for the game while someone hit the button cueing up Sweet Caroline.
Once the confusion subsided, and the bonus time played on, Dominick Brown went Downtown for his league-leading first unofficial home run, and the first Phillies non-non-roster invitee this Spring to put the ball over the fence (which, rumor has it, includes batting practice).
Not only did the remaining fans experience bonus baseball, but as the afternoon unofficially ended those exiting were treated to another round of Sweet Caroline. Oh Magoo ….