Phillies

Shane Victorino retires as a Phillie, salutes the city where his dreams came true

Shane Victorino retires as a Phillie, salutes the city where his dreams came true

The Flyin’ Hawaiian turned into the Cryin’ Hawaiian.

Shane Victorino led off the Phillies’ Alumni Weekend celebration by returning to Citizens Bank Park on Friday night to officially announce his retirement from baseball.

Victorino addressed the festive crowd before the game. He lasted about 90 seconds before the tears started flowing.

“I will always have you woven into the fabric of my life," he told the crowd. "This is not a goodbye. It’s just the next chapter.

“Mahalo, Philly.”

Victorino played for the Dodgers, Red Sox and Angels after leaving the Phillies in the summer of 2012, but Philadelphia always held a special spot in his heart because it is where his dreams came true. And though he last played in 2015, he wanted to return to Philadelphia and symbolically retire with the club that he won a World Series with in 2008.

“This city made me the person that I am,” he said. “I was a 25-year-old kid bouncing all over the place just looking for an opportunity and I got to come to a first-class organization with first-class people.”

The story is well known. General manager Ed Wade and his staff plucked the spunky, athletic outfielder from Maui out of the Dodgers organization as a Rule 5 pick in December 2004. Victorino did not make the Phillies roster in the spring of 2005 and the Phillies had to offer him back to the Dodgers.

They said thanks, but no thanks.

So the Phillies kept Victorino and sent him to Triple A. He became the International League MVP and a year later a mainstay in the Phillies lineup.

Victorino became a fan favorite for his bubbly personality, his energetic style of play and his ability to produce clutch hits and important defensive plays in the field. He became an All-Star and eventually a huge part of the team that broke a 25-year championship drought in the city with the 2008 World Series championship.

“In 2005, I came to Philadelphia as a Rule 5 player,” Victorino told the crowd. “The city and me shared a DNA — an expectation for mediocrity. Well, this is far from what happened. Hard work, dedication and teamwork were the formula for success. Philadelphia, I can proudly look you all in the eye and say this: We succeeded.

“A World Series championship! We have rallied and today Philadelphia is respected — a booming city of winners.”

Phillies managing partner John Middleton and chairman David Montgomery presented Victorino with a hand-painted outfielder’s glove depicting his image and career accomplishments.

After thanking the organization, his teammates and the fans, Victorino hugged the Phanatic and headed to the mound to throw out a ceremonial first pitch. As Victorino arrived at the mound, the crowd erupted as Ryan Howard appeared on the field wearing his No. 6 jersey. Howard stood behind home plate and caught Victorino’s ceremonial pitch.

During the game, highlights from Victorino’s career — including his memorable grand slam against Milwaukee's CC Sabathia during the 2008 postseason — played on the big video board.

The Alumni Weekend festivities continue on Saturday night as Pat Gillick and Roy Halladay will be inducted onto the team’s Wall of Fame.

On Sunday afternoon, the club will celebrate the 10th anniversary of the 2008 World Series title team with a pregame ceremony. At last count, 25 members of that team, including Howard, Jimmy Rollins, Charlie Manuel and Brad Lidge, were slated to attend the event.

It was kind of fitting that the weekend began with a tribute to Victorino. He got his fair share of time as the leadoff man on those great Phillies teams from 2007 to 2011.

“I’ve been lucky,” he said. “For the rest of my life, I'll forever be part of this organization.”

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Phillies still after Zach Britton, hot on Andrew Miller's trail, sources say

Phillies still after Zach Britton, hot on Andrew Miller's trail, sources say

LAS VEGAS — The Phillies lost out on another starting pitching target Wednesday when J.A. Happ turned his focus on returning to the New York Yankees.

Happ, 36, was seeking a three-year contract and the Phillies were reluctant to do that.

Earlier this offseason, the Phillies lost out on Patrick Corbin when he spurned their five-year offer for a six-year deal with Washington.

So what are the Phillies going to do to upgrade their starting pitching rotation?

Could they stand pat with the guys they have?

It's possible.

In that case, they would attempt to improve their "run prevention" by upgrading the bullpen.

According to sources, the Phillies remain very much in pursuit of accomplished left-handed relievers Zach Britton and Andrew Miller. Both pitchers are getting a lot of action from teams and the Phillies, according to sources, are right in the thick of the chase. Britton has been a longstanding target of the Phils, but two sources suggested on Wednesday night that the Phils were hot on Miller's trail, as well.

Stay tuned on that one.

The Phils would love to add a high-end lefty reliever because most of their back-end, high-leverage relievers (Hector Neris, Seranthony Dominguez, Victor Arano, Pat Neshek, Tommy Hunter) are right-handed.

Both Britton and Miller have closer experience. The Phils did not have a defined closer last season. Landing a Britton or a Miller could lead them to consider defining a closer.

"I think when you have a Mariano Rivera type on your team, you use him as a closer and that helps shape the rest of your bullpen," general manager Matt Klentak said. "I think if we have that guy, whether we develop that player or acquire that player from elsewhere, I think we would use a dedicated closer. We have a very deep and high-floor bullpen with a lot of players who have different strengths, complementary strengths. I think that lends itself to the type of bullpen management we implemented last year. I'm very open to having a closer but I'm not going to force that if the personnel doesn't dictate that."

Though he said it was not imperative that he add a starter, Klentak is going to keep trying to do that. He'd still like to get a lefty. Robbie Ray of Arizona remains a trade possibility.

"Our starting pitching was the strength of our team last year," Klentak said. "I know that it faltered at the end. I'm not trying to hide behind that. I know that they struggled late. But for most of the season, the starting rotation was the strength of the team. For us to make an acquisition, we have to be very confident that it is moving the needle and that it's a sound investment. I'm not certain where we'll wind up on that.

"There's always been some chance that it comes through a trade. But I'm hesitant to say it's likely. There's still a bunch of free-agent starters available. There's still several guys on the trade block. And I'm still pretty comfortable with the group we have."

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Phillies could lose lefty reliever Tyler Gilbert, catcher Deivi Grullon in MLB Rule 5 draft

Phillies could lose lefty reliever Tyler Gilbert, catcher Deivi Grullon in MLB Rule 5 draft

LAS VEGAS — The winter meetings will conclude Thursday (noon EST) with the Rule 5 draft.

This is the event in which the Phillies once landed Shane Victorino, Odubel Herrera and Dave Hollins. It is how they lost MVP George Bell. It is how the Pittsburgh Pirates landed Roberto Clemente in 1954.

The draft works this way: A player must be added to his team's 40-man roster after his third or fourth year in pro ball, depending on the age at which he signed his first pro contract. If he is not protected, he can be selected by another club for $100,000. That player must then be added to the new club's 40-man roster and stay there all season or be offered back to his old club for $50,000.

In anticipation of the Rule 5 draft, the Phillies added three young prospects to their 40-man roster in November — pitchers Edgar Garcia and Adonis Medina and middle infielder Arquimedes Gamboa. All three of those players will be in big-league spring training camp in February.

Notable players who were not protected and are eligible to be selected in the Rule 5 draft Thursday include outfielder Jose Pujols, catcher Deivi Grullon and lefty reliever Tyler Gilbert.

Pujols, who turned 23 in September, was the Florida State League player of the year in 2018. He hit .301 with 18 homers, 58 RBIs and an .887 OPS in 95 games at Single A Clearwater. However, he struck out 127 times in 352 at-bats. It might be difficult for him to survive on a big-league bench with that many strikeouts.

Grullon, a rugged 22-year-old, hit .273 with 21 homers, 59 RBIs and an .825 OPS in 90 games at Double A Reading. Catching is a premium position and Grullon has impressive power. There's a chance he could be selected. If he is not, he will likely be in Triple A with the Phils in 2019.

A number of baseball people think the Phillies could lose Gilbert because he profiles as a lefty specialist and could more easily be stashed in the deep bullpens that teams carry these days.

Gilbert, who turns 25 this month, was the Phils' sixth-round pick in 2015 out of USC. He had a 3.25 ERA in 48 games at Double A and Triple A in 2018. He struck out 69 and walked 15 in 69⅓ innings and lefty batters were just 15 for 89 (.169) against him.

The Phillies have the 13th pick in the draft, but it's not clear if they will make a selection.

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