Camp Kap might be different but core message the same

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Camp Kap might be different but core message the same

CLEARWATER, Fla. — I’m sure by now, the message from Clearwater has made its way back home. Something is different at the Carpenter Complex.

Things are changing inside the walls of Spectrum Field.

This isn’t your father's spring training.

On the surface, that message rings true. As true as the bell at Frenchy’s Tiki Bar, on a sun-soaked Saturday afternoon when a patron’s generous tip warrants the clanging celebration.

Yes, some things are different as Gabe Kapler and his staff takes over the reins of this ballclub.

The sound of music in the hallways, and positive messages in the clubhouse. A renewed emphasis on rest, recovery and roles. A belief that the power of an athlete's mind can directly affect the performance of an athlete's body. New exchanges of ideas and ideologies.

But from where I sit, tucked away in the left field corner, this spring training resembles all the others I’ve seen. The sounds of the bat on ball and the pop of the catcher's mitt as it collects a 90-plus mile per hour fastball. The encouragement from one teammate to another shouted across the diamond after a heads-up play. The echo of laughter in the clubhouse and effort in the weight room. The sounds of baseball.

The stakes are high, and for most players, the pressure to succeed is real. This is their job, and they take it seriously.

For the major league staff, this reality is clear. So if they can offer a simple reminder to the players, to “Be Bold” and play fearlessly, they will. Reassuring them that their best chance is, without a doubt, to believe in the talent that has gotten them here.

Kapler’s message may sound different at first blush. But I would argue that's mostly because of how he delivers it. He's passionate and unapologetically positive. He's thoughtful with his words and deliberate in his tone. He uses analogies and metaphors that on the surface may seem alien in professional sports.

But if you listen, the message is familiar.


Win by paying attention to details.

Win by making small strides in the things you already do well.

Win by analyzing the numbers.

Win with hard work, with smarts, with hustle.

Win despite the naysayers.

Win. Together.

Go back in sports history and you will find these doctrines being preached time and time again. The idea that if everyone pulls in the same direction, buys into the message, believes in one another, extraordinary results can occur. We’ve watched it happen.

The Phillies' rebuild has shifted into a new gear. And Kapler and his staff have been given the latitude to construct this team into a perennial contender once again. They will do it with proven methods and unconventional thinking. They will do it with positivity and practice. They will do it the way they believe it should be done.

And to some, it may sound different. But to me, it sounds like baseball.

Gregg Murphy has been the Phillies' field reporter since 2012.

Phillies' opening day roster decisions not getting any easier

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Phillies' opening day roster decisions not getting any easier


CLEARWATER, Fla. — The Phillies are going down to the wire with their opening day roster decisions.

Manager Gabe Kapler & Co. got another look at pitcher Drew Hutchison and bench candidates Jesmuel Valentin and Roman Quinn on Saturday in a game against the Tigers in Lakeland. None of the three hurt their chances of making the club in a 4-1 win over the Tigers.

Hutchison, a Lakeland native, pitched four scoreless innings. He gave up one hit and survived three walks. He struck out three, including Miguel Cabrera with runners on second and third with one out in the third inning. 

Hutchison, 27, made 74 starts from 2012 to 2016 with the Blue Jays and Pirates. He spent all of last season with the Pirates’ Triple A club and signed a minor-league deal with the Phillies last month. The Phillies have given the right-hander a good look and he has responded well. He has given up 12 hits and six runs in 19 2/3 innings for a 2.75 ERA. However, he has walked eight while registering 17 strikeouts.

Hutchison’s best chance to make the club could be as a long man in the bullpen. Ben Lively is also in the running for that job. Jake Thompson could also be in the picture. He is converting to the bullpen but has built up his pitch counts.

Valentin, a strong candidate for a utility job, started at first base with a borrowed mitt from Rhys Hoskins. Valentin has a first baseman’s mitt and a catcher's mitt on order. He could be the emergency third catcher. Valentin had a good game. He made a nice defensive play and had two hits and a walk. He has played seven positions this spring.

Quinn had two hits, scored a run and swiped three bases. He could open with the big club or be sent to Triple A for playing time. He has impressed Kapler with his electricity and figures to impact the big club at some point, maybe as soon as opening day.

Scott Kingery had two more hits, raising his average to .392 (20 for 51). He will likely open in Triple A but could be up by the third weekend of the season. Delaying his arrival until then would push his potential free agency back until after 2024.

• Rhys Hoskins stayed back in Clearwater and got a bunch of at-bats in a pair of minor-league games. He swatted a pair of opposite-field homers in a Triple A game.

The Phillies host the Orioles on Saturday. Lively will start.

Phillies set date for Jake Arrieta's regular season debut

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Phillies set date for Jake Arrieta's regular season debut

CLEARWATER, Fla. – The Phillies have announced their plan for Jake Arrieta.

He will make his regular season debut on April 8 at Citizens Bank Park against the Miami Marlins.

That is a Sunday afternoon game.

Arrieta has a career ERA of 3.28 in day games as opposed to 3.77 in night games. Opposing batters have hit just .214 against him over his career in day games.

“He loves pitching in day games,” manager Gabe Kapler said in announcing the plan for Arrieta, who signed a three-year, $75 million contract with the Phillies on March 12.

Even though Arrieta showed up to camp in excellent shape and had been throwing on his own, the Phillies had promised to be cautious in getting him ready for the regular season. Arrieta will start Tuesday in Clearwater then pitch again on April 2, probably against minor leaguers in Clearwater, before his debut against Miami.

Arrieta had hoped to pitch during the first week of the season. The way things line up, he will miss just one start. The Phillies could stash him on the disabled list as he builds arm strength until they activate him before the April 8 game.

“Jake’s on board with this,” Kapler said. “He’s such a competitive dude, he wants to get out there immediately. But he has a strong understanding of the long view and what will keep him healthy and strong over the whole season and through the next three or four years. He understood that the best thing for his body is to build up a little more and get a nice slow, easy ramp and come out firing for us on April 8 against the Marlins.”

Arrieta has made four lifetime starts against Miami. He is 3-0 with a 1.38 ERA in those games. Over 26 innings, he’s allowed four runs and 16 hits while walking four and striking out 26.

Aaron Nola will start on opening day. The order of the rotation is unclear after that, though the Phillies could get by with four starters until Arrieta is ready. Nick Pivetta and Vince Velasquez will be in the rotation. Zach Eflin, Ben Lively or Drew Hutchison could round out the rotation during the first seven games. Lively or Hutchison could also work out of the bullpen.

Lively will start against the Orioles on Sunday.