Phillies

The first look at the 'new' Phillie Phanatic

The first look at the 'new' Phillie Phanatic

Things have ground to a halt in Philadelphia in the 48 hours since Jim Salisbury reported the Phillie Phanatic was set for a makeover of sorts. 

There’s been anger, there’s been sadness, agony, but more than anything else a sense of confusion in the city. Not confusion why. That’s all explained here. It’s been more of a philosophical why. “Why is this happening to me and to those I hold dear?”

The changes, though, aren't too significant. If you're a die-hard, you'll probably notice several of the differences, but all fans will still recognize our jolly ol' fella from the Galapagos Islands.

The first look at the “new” Phanatic will be this afternoon when the Phillies host the Pirates at 1 p.m. on NBC Sports Philadelphia ...

... but here’s a preview. 

My guy straight up pelvic thrust his way into weight redistribution. Forever a scientific marvel.

The snout is smaller and a bit of a different shape. The tail is longer with a different color at the end. New shoes and socks. New scales(?) on the arms. And it looks like he’s seeing a new optometrist.

There are definite springtime vibes in Philly, across Florida and Arizona and in each of the major-league cities. Baseball is back and in a few short hours, we’ll get the crack of the bat and the big green guy's usual hijinks.

Subscribe and rate Phillies Talk:
Apple Podcasts / Google Play / Spotify / Stitcher / Art19 / YouTube

More on the Phillies

Andrew McCutchen taking his hacks, taking virus seriously and getting a glimpse of retired life

Andrew McCutchen taking his hacks, taking virus seriously and getting a glimpse of retired life

Around 11 a.m. Thursday, Andrew McCutchen wanted to go take some hacks. He's not getting work in seven days a week like he was during spring training — no sense in overdoing it right now — but is still working out five times a week and those are the only five times he leaves his house in Florida.

McCutchen's family is taking the stay-at-home guidelines seriously. He's the only one leaving the house and he keeps hand sanitizer, gloves and a mask on him. 

"I've taken it as seriously as possible," McCutchen said during a phone conversation Thursday.

"Realizing I have a family back home so I don't want to jeopardize their lives at all because this thing is serious. It's taking all the measures and steps and caution that I can when I'm away for a couple hours. That's kind of where I am. It's around, it's real and you've got to treat it that way."

It, of course, is coronavirus, which has practically shut down the entire country and has left each pro sports league's 2020 schedule in jeopardy. 

This has been a humbling experience for millions upon millions of people. We are all largely in the same boat — you, me, Bryce Harper, LeBron. We all have to stay in the house, we're all bored at times, stir crazy at times, depressed at times, wondering when this will pass.

MLB last week worked out key issues pertaining to 2020 pay and service time in the event of a canceled season. With those details finalized, there isn't a ton of baseball talk going on between players at the moment.

"Baseball is kind of on the backburner. We're all dealing with real-life problems," McCutchen said. "There's just some things in life going on that we're putting ahead of that, putting in front of that. I'm just doing my best, as far as getting myself ready physically. But at the same time, realizing that I've got a family at home and they depend on me to be there to provide and I know there's just so many other people going through things that are much worse. 

"Baseball-wise, there's not that much to talk about, there's more to talk about with the everyday things going on and the drastic changes in the world."

As we search for any silver lining to this heartbreaking situation, one could be that it resets some of us, reminds us of what is truly important and how much the loved ones we can't see right now mean to us. 

This is a much different situation than any a professional athlete has gotten used to. In a radio interview with Mike Missanelli Thursday, Phillies manager Joe Girardi remarked that "it was like going from winter to winter." 

McCutchen feels things slowing down in his mind and in his world. He's getting a lot of family time in with his wife Maria, their two-year-old son Steel and three-month-old son Armani. They're thinking of ways to keep Steel active and everyone sane during a period when outdoor activity has been drastically limited.

"I realized I'm really able to slow down and use my brain a little more than I guess I have," McCutchen said. "Just thinking about things to do with my son around the house, there's so many things to do. Like yesterday, we had chalk and were like drawing on the driveway. Just doing little things like that every day has been super helpful. But at the same time, it's kinda fun because we're able to relive our childhood and just think about that simplified life we used to have."

It's also giving McCutchen, 33, a glimpse of life after baseball.

"It kinda speeds up a little bit on you when you think about this moment," he said. "You think about how when you're retired one day how life's gonna be, it's essentially kind of what it's like. It kinda isn't, but you're not playing at all, I can kinda look at it like that. I'm not playing, I haven't played in a full year. I'm just trying to think of how it would be when I'm not playing, when I'm actually done playing. 

"It makes me realize to not take anything for granted, not take the game for granted, enjoy the game as much as you possibly can. Don't take it too seriously. The game is important but realize that you're playing a game. Only way you can play is by having fun. Just keep doing that. This thing doesn't last forever. I just miss being out there on the field with my teammates, playing in front of the fans, the roar of the crowd, thinking of all those things that you've experienced and knowing that when we're back, whenever that is, who knows when that will feel normal again because of all of this. Or when will it be? Not trying to take anything for granted. Just being grateful and thankful for the opportunities and your past in this game."

If/when the 2020 MLB season does begin, McCutchen will be ready. The Phillies won't have to play a month without him like they would have if the season began on March 26. McCutchen, who tore his ACL last June, says this is the longest he's ever gone without playing a game since he picked up a bat at five years old.

"Now I know, whenever the time comes and we're playing again, I'll be ready to go," he said. "I'm really gonna be itching to get out on the field and play but right now I just need to take care of business and take advantage of this time."

He didn't have a preference for who was set to lead off in his absence.

"I guess I didn't pay much attention to who I wanted to lead off because I'm the leadoff guy," McCutchen said. "I think we have a few guys who can do it. There's Adam Haseley of course, I think Roman Quinn was showing some spark. I think a lot of people were looking at J.T. (Realmuto) as well because he can get on base a lot and can do a lot there in the leadoff spot, but I think it'd be a little harder for him being a catcher. 

"We had a handful of guys who could do it but I guess I don't have to worry about that anymore because I'll be leading off."

Subscribe and rate the Phillies Talk podcast:
Apple Podcasts / Google Play / Spotify / Stitcher / Art19 / YouTube

More on the Phillies

Virus has Phillies in holding pattern with J.T. Realmuto and Seranthony Dominguez

Virus has Phillies in holding pattern with J.T. Realmuto and Seranthony Dominguez

Because of the coronavirus health crisis and the delay in starting the Major League Baseball season, the Phillies remain in a holding pattern on a couple of significant baseball matters, general manager Matt Klentak said Thursday.

It's still unclear whether reliever Seranthony Dominguez will opt to have his injured right elbow surgically repaired. The health crisis has prevented Dominguez from getting a second opinion from orthopedic surgeon James Andrews. Dominguez is currently with family in his native Dominican Republic.

"Medicine is not always black and white," Klentak said. "There's a possibility it may head down that (surgical) road, but until he gets the second opinion, we have no firm declaration. For a lot of players, surgery is a last option, particularly when the surgery keeps you out as long as Tommy John surgery does. Before we go down that road, we want to make sure everyone is in agreement on what the right course of action is."

Dominguez saw Andrews shortly after injuring his elbow in early June last season. Surgery was not recommended at that time, but Dominguez missed the remainder of the season. He had a setback in August and again in March and all signs point to his needing surgery. Andrews would be a likely person to handle the surgery, but he is not seeing patients at the moment because of the health crisis.

Surgery, whenever it happens, would sideline Dominguez for more than a year.

The other matter currently on hold involves All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto and the team's effort to sign him to a contract extension before he becomes a free agent in the fall. The two sides had begun negotiations in February, but those talks, by mandate from Major League Baseball, are now on hold because of the health crisis.

Could the freeze on negotiations and the uncertainty of whether or not there will be a 2020 season hurt the Phillies in their quest to keep Realmuto off the free-agent market?

"Whenever we resume playing, we'll see what the circumstances are and re-engage," Klentak said. "Nobody can predict what the parameters will be at that point or what will happen, but I think everyone knows we love J.T. and he's a player we'd love to have for the long haul."

Thursday would have been the Phillies' home opener. They had been scheduled to play their first seven games on the road before MLB suspended action on March 12 and encouraged players to head home. Training facilities have subsequently been closed except to a handful of players who are rehabilitating from injuries. 

MLB still hopes to have a season in some form, but nothing is certain. Like the rest of the world, it is at the mercy of the virus.

"I don't have enough information to know what's going to happen and I'm not sure anyone does," Klentak said. "What I am confident about is owners, players, front offices, fans, media, everybody is aligned in wanting to play baseball as quickly as we can. When all parties are as aligned as that, it gives me confidence that we'll get back as soon as we can get back. But I'm not in a position to make any predictions as to when that might happen.

"We'll do the best we can in the interim to prepare for the season. If it's a traditional season, we'll be prepared. If it's a modified season, we'll be prepared. I have a lot of confidence in league operations."

A resumed spring training would be required before any type of regular season, but Klentak would not speculate on what that might look like.

Subscribe and rate the Phillies Talk podcast:
Apple Podcasts / Google Play / Spotify / Stitcher / Art19 / YouTube

More on the Phillies