Spring Training is the time when players work out and stretch their bodies back into shape after a long off-season. But last week the most stretched muscles in Clearwater, the Phillies Spring Training home, were the vocal cords. Everyone had something to say. Now I know they say talk is cheap but I for one like the attitude of this year’s Phillies, especially some of the more “expensive” players on the roster.
Let’s start with a little game I call, “Who said this?”
“I feel pretty damn good right now.”
OK, yes, that was a trick question. Let’s face it. That quote might come from any of a number of players from last year’s injury-ravaged team. The good news? They are all back this year, mended in mind and body and ready to go.
The above quote was actually from Chase “You are the man” Utley who also, thanks to a new off-season training regimen, hopes to play a lot more games this year for the Phils.
In fact, he was feeling so confident during the off-season this year that he actually sent manager Charlie Manuel a little pre-Christmas update in the form of a text telling Charlie that if he behaves himself “maybe Santa will bring him a healthy second baseman for Christmas.”
Well, I guess Charlie did as he was told because not only is Utley back and healthy, yet another member of last year’s walking wounded had this to say:
“My leg feels phenomenal right now. Compared to last year when I came back, I feel great.”
Yep, the leg gives that one away. It comes from a very upbeat Ryan Howard who wasn’t buying the talk of age catching up with many of the veterans on this Phillies team.
“I don’t buy into the old thing,” Howard said. “It’s all about how young you feel inside and how well you take care of yourself.”
“If people wanna call us old that’s fine, but we’re gonna show them what we’re made of. You can sweep us under the rug, but don’t be surprised.”
Come on Ryan, surprise us!
“I feel as good now as I have any other spring training. Last year, it wasn’t as if I felt bad, it just never really clicked for me.”
That final “back and better than ever” quote comes from, of course, none other than ‘the Doctor’ himself, pitcher Roy Halladay. Now Doc is in the last year of his current Phillies contract and not only is he feeling good, he also has strong feelings about why he wants to play and where:
“I’m playing to win a World Series. That’s why I’m playing baseball. For no other reason. Period.
I really don’t see myself playing anywhere else. This has been the best place I’ve ever played. And I don’t want to play anywhere else.”
Well, the feeling’s mutual Doc! It has been a pleasure to watch you pitch and let’s hope this won’t be your last year wearing Phillies red.
But perhaps my favorite quote of the week, was another one from “The Big Piece” when he was asked about whether the window was closing on this Phillies team:
“If you focus on the window closing, you’re gonna miss that cool breeze coming through, man.”
Love that, Ryan! Let’s hope this Phillies team just blows us away!