Phillies

Massages in, alarm clocks out at Phillies camp

Massages in, alarm clocks out at Phillies camp

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Change has spread dramatically throughout the Phillies organization in recent years. The front office has turned over. There's been a shakeup on the scouting staff. Analytics went from being a non-thing to a really big thing.

And now Gabe Kapler, full of progressive, outside-the-box ideas, has arrived as manager.

With him comes more change.

Remember how Chase Utley and Roy Halladay used to famously duel to see who could arrive in the clubhouse earlier each day in spring training? And, by early, we’re talking pre-dawn, dew-on-the-grass, the owls-are-still-hootin’ early.

Well, under Kapler, showing up before sunrise will not earn a player a badge of honor, and it certainly won't earn him an Egg McMuffin. Oh, a player can still drag his bones out of the rack super early if that’s what makes him tick, what makes him be the best version of himself, as Kapler says. But rest and recovery and waking up naturally can be important too, says the first-year skipper.

So …

Workouts will begin a little later this spring. Figure on pitchers and catchers hitting the field at 11 a.m. Wednesday for their first workout. In previous years, the Phillies stretched about 9:30 a.m. and got into workouts at 10.

“It gives our guys a chance to rest a little bit longer,” Kapler said Tuesday. “We are going to focus on rest, recovery, our guys being the strongest versions of themselves.

“Spring training is pretty long. One of our themes is: how can we be healthy and strong when camp closes? We want to have quick, efficient practices that mimic game conditions so that they can get used to it and when we hit Atlanta (for the March 29 season opener) those guys are strong and not broken down.”

Kapler is also rather fanatical about nutrition.

The Phillies, however, may have beaten him to the punch on that one.

“We have — what came way before me — among the best strength and conditioning staffs in baseball, among the best medical staffs in baseball, a chef already in house who cooks exceptional food, nutritionally dense food,” he said. “This organization was in really good shape. I'm just lucky to be inserted into that and add a little spice.”

New bench coach Rob Thomson, formerly the Yankees’ bench coach, will oversee scheduling for camp. Players will still do extra, early work — small groups with specific instructors before the official workout — but even that will start a little later.

“Thoms will talk about how early work is just better a little bit later,” Kapler said. “Guys come in a little bit more refreshed, they're in a better mood, and the balls stay a little bit drier. So the drills are just a little bit more effective.”

Kapler will encourage players to monitor their own workloads in camp then communicate about those workloads with coaches and the athletic training staff.

“A major focus will be on tracking and logging reps,” he said. “A rep is a swing, it’s a throw, it’s a squat, it’s a sprint, it’s a run down the line, it’s a home to third. Everything should be considered a rep and they should all be tracked and logged and factored in, so that we can keep guys healthy and strong and recovered through not just April and May, but through September and October, as well.

“If we can communicate to make sure that we all have that information, we might be able to back people off, whereas before we just sort of powered through because we didn’t know what was happening on other areas of the field. This is for the players. We want the information because it is our responsibility to put them in the best position to succeed.

“So, by way of example, if a player comes in and we know he had some extra activity the day before, maybe we don’t have anything specific planned for him the following day, then don’t come to the ballpark today. Stay home. Recover. Get a massage. Relax. Sleep. And then come back the next day and we’ll pick things back up.”

The Phillies aren’t the only team to stress recovery, not the only team to push back the start time of the workday.

“I don't think we're setting any precedent here," Kapler said. "There's other clubs who start practice a little bit later. The Rays have done that. The Yankees have done that.

"For me, personally, I love it. Guys are going to get to sleep a little bit longer. We're going to stress to them that doesn't mean they change anything the night before. Go ahead and do exactly what your routine is. Rather than having an alarm clock wake you up in the morning, get up when you get up. Come to the ballpark when it's time to work.

"I don't think there's any value in getting to the ballpark when it's dark, just to get to the ballpark when it's dark. Although, we have a lot of guys who that is their best method of being great. We're not going to strip that out of them either. All of our players are individuals and will be treated as such. Not everybody is the same. And we don't want to make everybody the same. We’re going to stress being great your way.”

Bad news for Phillies’ J.P. Crawford; Jerad Eickhoff set for big test

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Bad news for Phillies’ J.P. Crawford; Jerad Eickhoff set for big test

J.P. Crawford stood in front of his locker with a soft cast on his left hand and a sad look on his face.

A few lockers away, Jerad Eickhoff struck a more optimistic tone.

As Eickhoff gets ready to ramp up his recovery from a condition that has caused numbness in the fingers on his right hand, Crawford was officially placed on the disabled list Wednesday morning with a broken bone in his left hand. He suffered the break when he was hit by a pitch in Tuesday night’s game. The Phillies recalled corner infielder Mitch Walding from Triple A to take Crawford’s roster spot.

Manager Gabe Kapler said Crawford would be down four to six weeks.

“Plain and simple, it sucks,” Crawford said.

The fracture is on the top of Crawford's hand, on the bone that extends from the middle knuckle. He said it would not require surgery.

Crawford, 23, is hitting just .194 with a .312 on-base percentage this season. He missed five weeks with a forearm strain earlier this season and returned to the lineup in early June. He had been getting reps at third base and was due for more. With Crawford out, and missing more development time, Maikel Franco, who had lost time at third, will get regular playing time again.

Eickhoff, who was projected to be a mainstay in the Phillies’ rotation, has not pitched all season, first because of a lat strain and lately because of numbness in the fingers on his pitching hand. A series of tests ruled out a serious problem. He was treated with an anti-inflammatory injection in his wrist and passed a test when he threw a problem-free, 20-pitch bullpen session on Tuesday.

“It was good, 20 pitches, all fastballs,” Eickhoff said. “It felt good. No numbness. The shot seems to be working.”

Eickhoff felt the numbness mostly when he torqued his curveball. He did not throw that pitch in Tuesday's bullpen session. He said he would mix in that pitch during his next bullpen session, Saturday in Washington.

“That’s a big test,” he said. “I am cautiously optimistic that I won’t feel anything.”

Eickhoff believes he will need a couple of more bullpens before he moves to competitive work in minor-league rehab games. He is confident he will pitch for the Phillies again this season.

“One step at a time,” he said. “We checked one box yesterday. We’ll check another one Saturday.”

In other health matters, Nick Williams, who suffered a broken nose Monday night, passed concussion protocol and was in the lineup for Wednesday afternoon’s game.

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J.P. Crawford suffers broken left hand, out 4-6 weeks

J.P. Crawford suffers broken left hand, out 4-6 weeks

Update: Crawford was placed on the 10-day DL Wednesday morning; Mitch Walding was recalled from Triple A. 

J.P. Crawford is headed back to the disabled list. The 23-year-old infielder suffered a broken left hand when he was hit by a pitch Tuesday night by St. Louis right-hander Luke Weaver. Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said Crawford would be out four to six weeks.

Crawford already missed five weeks earlier this season with a forearm strain. He came off the disabled list on June 6 and had been getting an extended look at third base.

Crawford’s latest injury means Maikel Franco will likely get another full-time chance at third base. Franco had lost reps to Crawford recently.

The Phillies did not immediately announce a replacement for Crawford on the roster. Outfielder Dylan Cozens could be a possibility. He is on the DL with a quadriceps injury.

Crawford was hit in the fourth inning. He was not available for comment after the game. He is hitting .194 in 34 games.

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