By Jim Sullivan
Saturday's weather was warm and windy, with threatening skies, but the rain held off until the scheduled completion at 1:30 PM.
I've been able to collect the work schedule of each session, which has been posted in the common area of Pirate City each day. It is quite detailed, one page for the position players, and a separate page for the pitchers.
For example, today's pitchers schedule included 27 separate entries, while the position player's schedule consisted of 39 entries, some activities of only 15 minutes apart. The schedule has concurrent entries for infielders, outfielders, and catchers.
I will not go into further detail, except to say that John Russell and Gary Varsho run a tight camp, with little idle time for the players.
More emphasis has been placed in this camp on the catchers'
ability to field balls in the dirt, whether from the Pitchers, or, in today's drills, throws from the outfield simulated by the "cannon" that is also used to shoot high pop up's.
The first drill today used two cannons, one situated at deep shortstop, and the other behind the 2nd base bag. All throws received were one hop, not entirely on the mark at home plate, where the catcher had to field cleanly, and then apply a swipe tag to an imaginary runner.
I don't remember observing these type drills in past camps, though the use of the "cannons" certainly make these drills more realistic.
Major League bullpen coach Luis Dorante led the drill, but Manny Sanguillen was stationed at the edge of the backstop, and was easily more vocal in his critique than anyone else.
The catchers involved were limited to three, Paulino, Doumit, and Michel Hernandez.
What occurred next was interesting, not because of the drill, but because of the location.
The "pop fly drill" which previously had occurred at home plate, was moved down the left field line, so there could be no inter-action by the crowd. I'm sure Ronny Paulino was appreciative.
While the catcher's drill was going on, the Pitcher's Infield drills (covering first base) were occurring on the other three diamonds.
After the pitchers infield drills, some of the Pitcher's moved to the bullpen mound.
Ian Snell, Matt Capps, Tom Gorzelanny, and Phil Dumatrait began the Pitchers activity in the bullpen, in preparation for batting practice on three fields.
One obvious difference in this camp, is management watching batting practice behind the cages, not as a collective group, but singularly. I was impressed today by President Frank Coonelly arriving at the field separately, just to watch batting practice. I can't remember the previous President having that level of interest.
What happened next was easily the highlight of the day for me.
When President Coonelly stopped to get a drink of water at the players water jug, I approached him and reminded him that I was still waiting for the guided tour of the newly completed Administration Building.
Much to my surprise, Frank said "let's do it now". I then had my own personal tour of the very impressive "hotel" led by team President Frank Coonelly.
The building consists of eigthy room, and more than 100 twenty-six inch Sony Bravia TV sets, in the "dorm rooms" (which is a complete misnomer), the coaches work areas, the training rooms, the recreation area, and office areas.
Liberally sprinkled in the hallways and recreation area are pictures of the past.
When I noticed a picture of Rennie Stennett, and mentioned his name, all Frank Coonelly said was "seven for seven". Not bad for a Phillies season ticket holder.
Easily the highlight of the tour was the third floor. There was a large classroom (with tables, not desks) for at least thirty players.
The tables were facing a large screen wall mounted TV.
When I asked the team President what would be addressed in the classroom, he rattled off a list of on-field situations that the players would encounter, and that the staff would first teach "The Pirate Way".
He then showed me the executive offices, where the GM was busy on his computer, and the next office, which was his.
In the back of his office is a common veranda shared by management, which overlooks the playing fields. That explained to me why Mr.
Coonelly was able to appear on the field when batting practice occurred.
The accommodations appeared to be first class at every level. When I asked Frank if the plans were to have the minor league players stay here, he replied that some of the major league players were already using the dorm rooms.
I should explain that a typical "dorm room" consisted of two double beds, separated by a couch, facing a wall mounted 26 inch Sony Bravia TV set.
We then went back to the field, where once again, John Russell was observing each activity, while Gary Varsho was ensuring that each drill was run crisply,
Tomorrow we will do it again, and hopefully bring you some on-field activity that will make this account more interesting.