Closing Time at Phillies Spring Training


As I drove to the Carpenter Complex late last week, the song “Closing Time” by Semisonic was playing in my mind. Especially the following:

"Closing timeTime for you to go out to the places you will be fromClosing timeThis room won’t be open till your brothers or your sisters comeSo gather up your jackets, move it to the exitsI hope you have found a friendClosing timeEvery new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end."

The end of Spring Training is always bittersweet. Some of the guys get promoted, and that’s always amazingly happy. Some of the guys are held at the same level as the year before, still searching for a way to break out and get noticed.

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Sadly, a few are given their outright release. For me, the releases are especially hard. I’ve known some of these players 6, 7, 8 years and have grown fond of them all. To see their dreams possibly end always makes a little piece of my heart die.

This year, it was the release of Perci Garner that broke my heart. I’ve known Perci since his days here in Clearwater with the Treshers, the Phillies A-level team. I got to know his beautiful son as he spent time around the Complex this spring. When he was released, it hit close to home.

I was also stunned by the release of Kyle Bogese. The 24-year old was one of my favorite stories of the last year.  Bogese, a Trinity University alum, went undrafted. He appeared at a “walk-on” tryout held in Williamsport and pitched himself into a contract. I thought that he had been doing rather well considering his short time with the team, however,  he was released at the same time as Garner.

It is my hope that they can be picked up by another team looking for pitching, even if at Independent ball. That’s what happened to Jiwan James. James, an outfielder, was released at the end of last season by the Phillies after spending considerable time on the DL in Reading following abdominal surgery.

James first signed with the Bridgeport Bluefish, an independent team, before signing with the Detroit Tigers and seeing time with their club during the Grapefruit League. As of today, he has yet to be assigned within their organization.

While I was able to talk to my friends and I know where they are headed, there have been no official rosters released as of when this blog was posted, so I’ll have to wait for the teams to post the rosters. I’m glad that my friends seem to be ok with whatever their lot.

All realize that a lot of changes happen in the first month or so of the season. Some players’ dreams will end as they cannot perform to the level they are assigned. Some are injured. Some players over-perform and get promoted.

Personally, I think that with the large number of older pitchers that were acquired by the Phillies in the off-season, guys like Zach Eflin and Ben Lively, there may be a few that do not measure up or become injured, which will allow promotion of younger pitchers. It’s inevitable and I know that those younger players are hungry to progress.

And so it is with this affection for those younger prospects that I try to focus on the last line of the section of Semisonic’s “Closing Time”… Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end…