Coachable superstars. This is not normally an analogous series of words. It is undeniable that Howard has some deficiencies in his game, but he has proven that he will work and work hard on said problems. Howard is no defensive wizard, but he works at his defense every spring to make it almost passable.
Chase Utley was drafted because he can smack the living crap out of a baseball. He did not have a natural major league position. Everyone think back to his Cape Cod League forays into the everyday life of a third baseball; he was atrocious. Utley was made into a second baseman and has worked like hell to become an elite fielding second baseman.
These players both all-star, world series champion, silver slugger winning players and they happen to be unaffected by the assholeitude that normally infects great players. These guys hustle, work hard and actually listen to their coaches.
This spring, there was some talk that Ryan Howard altering his approach and stepping a little closer to the plate. I am in no way indicating that this will be some sort of panacea for Howard’s problems, but the fact that the guy had a season in which he hit 58 home runs and is still willing to listen is extremely encouraging. It is also encouraging that since Brett Myers left, the team is devoid of assholes. Danys Baez might not be able to get people out, but he does not seem like a horrible person.
The Phillies and their band of non-jerks took on the Baltimore Orioles today for the second time this spring. Baltimore sent out oft-injured free agent acquisition Justin Duchscherer to oppose Cole Hamels.
Hamels had a rough first inning, but settled down to go four innings only allowing one hit. He walked two and struck out two.
The Phils got on the board when Ryan Howard hit his third home run of the spring, wrestling the team lead from Ben Francisco and pulling into a tie for second place in baseball. If the worst case scenario concerning Utley’s knee is realized, Howard will be responsible for carrying the team in his absence. Charlie Manual has been talking about Howard getting closer to the plate for quite some time now. Hopefully this slight adjustment will help his spring power translate into regular season power.
The Phils went into the bottom of the ninth inning trailing 3-2. Thanks to two walks and a two run single by Carlos Rivero, the Phils walked away with a final at bat win.
Next up for the Phils Joe Blanton goes up against the Detroit Tigers.