The electricity is back and these Phillies can't wait to feel it

The electricity is back and these Phillies can't wait to feel it

CLEARWATER, Fla. — There's a mural on the wall outside the Phillies' spring training clubhouse, a giant picture taken a few seconds after Carlos Ruiz and Brad Lidge embraced and the Phillies won the World Series on that magical October night in 2008. Citizens Bank Park is packed to the rafters and the crowd is in a state of euphoria.

Rhys Hoskins was standing near the mural Friday morning, less than 24 hours after the Phillies landed slugging free agent Bryce Harper with the largest deal in American sports history — $330 million.

"You know, everybody talks about this picture behind us," Hoskins said. "There's rally towels waving around, you can't see an empty seat, you can't see anywhere where people can stand. I don't want to hear about it anymore. I want to feel it. So I think we're on our way and I think Bryce gives us a chance to be there."

With that quote, Hoskins captured the mood of an entire franchise Friday morning. The clubhouse buzzed with excitement. The folks in the front office, after walking on eggshells for several days awaiting Harper's decision, had a spring in their step. The phone lines at Spectrum Field, the Phillies' spring home, rang with people looking to buy tickets and back home in Philadelphia it was more of the same — times a thousand.

The Phillies' great run of Jimmy, Chase and Ryan ended on that October 2011 night when Ryan Howard fell to the ground in pain, his ruptured Achilles tendon forever a symbol of a powerful dynasty coming to an end. The Phillies haven't had a winning season since, haven't been back to the playoffs since. They embarked on a long rebuild. There were hirings and firings, a lot of losses and a lot of empty seats as the electricity of 2007 to 2011 vanished.

The electricity is back now. Sure, it will take victories to sustain it because that's what it's always about. But the team's front office and ownership group has ignited the electricity again with an offseason that has seen them land a handful of decorated players — former MVP Andrew McCutchen, hit machine Jean Segura, stud catcher J.T. Realmuto, all-star reliever David Robertson — topped off by the addition of Harper, another former MVP, who at 26, should have more in his future.

"We got a lot better before this offseason," Hoskins said. "Even before this move, there was an excitement and a buzz around camp with the guys we'd previously brought in. But you bring in a guy like this and I think now it becomes, 'We think and we know that we can kind of take the next step from last season to now. This is ours.'

"We're a confident bunch and you add a player like this — it makes everyone else better.

"The whole offseason, the front office and ownership has instilled a lot of confidence in us. Getting a guy like this can put us over the top."

Harper wanted a lengthy deal and a no-trade clause because he does not want to move around. He wants to play until he's 40. He got that long-term deal — 13 years — with the Phillies. He did not request an opt-out clause like so many other free agents these days. He did not want a test drive and an off-ramp. He wants to stay in one place, dig in literally and figuratively, and produce.

"The money and the no-trade are huge," Hoskins said. "But that he specifically asked for the no opt-out — obviously that's a commitment and it's really cool to be a part of the city and on a team where a player like that is committing the bulk of his career to that city. I think that says a lot about his character and the competitor he is and obviously, we're really excited to have him on the team."

Hoskins has the same agent (Scott Boras) as Harper and the two are friends. The Phillies' slugging first baseman learned of his new teammate in a phone call from his new teammate.

"Hey, man, I'm coming," Harper told Hoskins on Thursday afternoon.

Hoskins was thrilled. He'd actually stopped following the drama of where Harper would go a few days earlier.

"Quite honestly, I had lost the energy to follow it," Hoskins said. "I think with everything that came out and all the guesses that were going on, it was pretty apparent that not a lot of people knew what was going on and at that point, it's time for us to get ready for the season and focus on camp to be ready to go."

Harper is expected to travel to Florida for a physical Friday. A news conference will follow Saturday. Then it's a month of preparation and game-on. Harper will be in right field March 28 when the Phillies open the season at home against Atlanta.

Aaron Nola — a budding star in his own right — will be on the mound.

And the electricity will be back.

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Dodgers 7, Phillies 2: Phillies wait out 3 hours of rain only to finish with 2 hits in lifeless loss to Dodgers

Dodgers 7, Phillies 2: Phillies wait out 3 hours of rain only to finish with 2 hits in lifeless loss to Dodgers


The Phillies and Dodgers waited out a rain delay of 2 hours and 37 minutes before finally resuming the top of the third inning Wednesday night.

And after the long, long, long wait ... the Phillies lost 7-2.

There wasn't much Phillies offense to speak of. They had two hits, one in the ninth inning. It probably should not have been a surprise that they couldn't muster more offense given their lineup. It was their least impressive batting order of the season, with Brad Miller, Adam Haseley, Nick Williams and Andrew Knapp occupying spots 5 through 8. Still ... two hits.

"Rain delays are always tough," said Scott Kingery, who had the Phillies' lone hit until the ninth. "Once you start the game, adrenaline's going and then you come back in here and sit around for a few hours. You've got to do the best you can to get it going again, get your body moving. ... Just a tough night."

David Freese had the key blow for the Dodgers, a two-run, opposite-field homer off Juan Nicasio in the seventh. It came two innings after a fan yelled "Freese, you look like my Uber driver," which was kind of funny. 

The Phillies had just tied the game the previous half-inning on a bases-loaded walk by Miller and an RBI groundout from Haseley. Both runs were unearned as the Phillies benefitted from Max Muncy's shaky defense at third base.

Justin Turner doubled the Dodgers' lead with a pinch-hit two-run home run off Austin Davis in the eighth.

Nick Pivetta started the game and allowed a first-inning run after walking the bases loaded. Control issues for Phillies pitchers didn't end there — they walked 10 Dodgers and hit two more on the night.

The Phillies (49-47) don't have much time to rest. Thursday's series finale — on YouTube only — begins at 12:35 p.m.

"I don't even think we have time to be disappointed," manager Gabe Kapler said. "We have to be back here pretty early in the morning with (Aaron) Nola on the mound and a rested bullpen in terms of our guys that we're leaning on in leverage innings.

"We feel good about tomorrow. Anxious to get back to the ballpark and wipe off tonight."

Can't find the zone

Reliever Edgar Garcia, who continues to struggle, has thrown a frustratingly low number of strikes lately. On Monday, he entered the game with the Phillies down by 11 runs and walked three batters. If ever there is a time to go right at hitters, it is then. 

On Wednesday, 15 of his 29 pitches were balls and he fell behind reliever Julio Urias before allowing an RBI single up the middle to him in the sixth inning.

Garcia is one of three Phillies relievers who probably shouldn't be in the major leagues right now but is here out of necessity. Outings like this do not inspire confidence. It wouldn't be surprising if the Phillies sent him down Thursday or Friday to bring up a fresh arm.

Garcia has a 6.15 ERA and 1.71 WHIP in 27 appearances.

Segura returns

Jean Segura popped out as a pinch-hitter Wednesday night. He will be in Thursday's lineup after missing much of the last two games with a bruised heel.

Not a strong showing from Williams

In his first game back with the Phillies, Williams looked out of sorts at the plate, grounding out softly twice and expanding the zone multiple times in a strikeout against right-handed reliever Pedro Baez.

Williams had hit .345 at Triple A but just has not gotten going at the big-league level this season. He'll have an opportunity to play over the next few weeks with Jay Bruce on the injured list with a strained oblique.

Williams is behind Haseley on the outfield depth chart, though.

Up next

The four-game series concludes Thursday afternoon at 12:35, and then the Phillies hit the road for three games this weekend in Pittsburgh. They're off Monday, then play in two in Detroit before coming back to Philly for an eight-game homestand against the Braves, Giants and White Sox. 

Aaron Nola (8-2, 3.63) opposes Ross Stripling (4-3, 3.65) on Thursday.

Two young Phillies fans show their brotherly love at Citizens Bank Park

Two young Phillies fans show their brotherly love at Citizens Bank Park

A surprisingly large number of Phillies fans stuck around Wednesday night after a rain delay of 2 hours, 37 minutes.

The top of the fifth provided a nice moment in the stands, as one fan gave a foul ball to another and they hugged.

Chivalry isn't dead, even after a few frustrating nights against the Dodgers, oppressively hot conditions and hours of waiting around for the game to resume.

Be sure to watch the video above for a heartwarming moment.

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