That’s the way it goes sometimes.
But upon seeing his name I quickly contacted a Phillies insider to tell him about my “sighting.”
“Good guy, super smart and really had a chance to stick around. It’s a shame he got hurt. That’s quite a fall to be pitching in that league.”
Frankly, I like it when guys refuse to quit. That’s especially the case with players who were right there and all they had to do in order to put together a decent Major League career was to do the work. It’s a simple as that – work hard and be rewarded. But then those killer injuries come and wipe out all that development and it’s back to the end of the line.
It happens too many times to count.
Feeling indignant and a little saucy, I figured it would be interesting to tweak my mystery baseball insider to see what kind of reaction I’d get.
“I bet Pitcher X could be in the Phillies bullpen right now. What do you think?”
“What do you mean no? You mean to tell me the Pitcher X isn’t as good as Francisco Rosario or Clay Condrey?”
“No, I’m not saying that at all. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if Pitcher X was as good as a quarter of the guys pitching on big league staffs. That’s not the point.”
Then he dropped the dozy.
“There are no secrets in professional baseball. If someone can play, we know about him. And there is a reason why someone is playing in the Atlantic League… ”
I thought about that as I watched Pete Rose Jr., Carl Everett, Edgardo Alfonso and Damian Rolls take their hacks at Clipper Magazine Stadium in Lancaster tonight. I especially thought about it when Everett – who seemed to struggle with a mid-80s fastball thrown by the Lancaster pitcher – came to the plate and my wife started reminiscing about a game at Fenway the day before the 2000 Boston Marathon when Jurassic Carl slugged a walk-off homer to win it for the Red Sox. For about five minutes, Everett was The Man with the Sox. Now he hits cleanup for the Long Island Ducks behind Petey Rose.
It can be a cruel game sometimes.
Everett went 0-for-2 in the plate appearances I saw, though Rose was 2-for-2 with a home run that just cleared the high right-field fence in Lancaster. A few pitches later I took off for home partially because it was raining, partially because it was just about bed time for my three-year old and mostly because it took nearly 60 minutes for them to play two full innings. That’s right on pace for a 4- hour, nine-inning game.
The first thing I noticed about Ryan Howard watching him play for Reading and a call-up with the Phillies a few summers ago, it was how quickly made adjustments in his stance and swing at the plate. In fact, he didn’t simply make changes from at-bat to at-bat or game to game, but instead he made them from pitch to pitch.
Even when he struck out – which was (and is) often – Howard looks like he has a plan.
So just before he smashed his game-winning, pinch-hit grand slam to help the Phillies beat the Diamondbacks yesterday, it appeared as if Howard did something different. Maybe he was more open or had his weight more evenly distributed than putting the bulk of it on his sore back leg – who knows. Whatever it was it worked.
And it was something different than the noticeably upright stance he used the day before in a pinch-hitting role when Howard clearly was having trouble with his injured left quad. Needless to say, the over-compensation on Wednesday night was on the money.
Bruce Sutter did it. So did Goose Gossage and Rollie Fingers. Now Brett Myers has done it, too.
What’s that, you ask?
A two-inning save.
Having not pitched all week and with a much-needed off-day looming, Charlie Manuel rightly chose to use his closer for six outs to avoid, I mean give his ‘pen an extra day of rest.