Position players reported to camp on Sunday. Most notably, Bryce Harper made his presence in Clearwater known. He spoke with the media, took batting practice and participated in a few promotional shots. As always, Phillies Nation has you covered on everything going on in and around the world of Phillies baseball. Here’s another edition of the Spring Training Round-Up:
Former Phillie Jeremy Hellickson retires
On Friday, former Phillies pitcher Jeremy Hellickson told the Des Moines Register that he is retiring from baseball. The 2011 American League Rookie of the Year spent ten seasons in MLB, including two with the Phillies. He went 18-15 with a 4.09 ERA in just over 300 innings pitched with the team and was named the Opening Day starter in 2016 and 2017.
Hellickson suffered a shoulder injury that required surgery but opted to retire instead. He leaves the game as a world champion, having been on the Nationals roster during their 2019 championship run.
Hector Neris on Joe Girardi’s bullpen management strategy
Hector Neris had to miss the first few days of camp with the flu, but he’s now healthy and back at work. He recently spoke to Meghan Montemurro of The Athletic on his initial perceptions of new manager Joe Girardi.
“He understands he needs the bullpen healthy for the whole season and not just one game,” Neris said. “I saw how he used guys and the team he had before, how much stronger they were in September and October and in playoffs. When you see that, you see how he understands how to use guys there.”
It’s no secret that former manager Gabe Kapler’s bullpen management philosophy differs drastically from Girardi’s. Neris, along with Jose Alvarez, were the only arms to remain healthy and consistently produce in 2019. From what it sounds like, Neris is optimistic about his chances of improving upon last season under Girardi and his conservative approach.Embed from Getty Images
Aaron Nola on Bryan Price
Aaron Nola, who is usually a man of very few words, spoke extensively to the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Scott Lauber on new pitching coach Bryan Price. He was not shy in letting Lauber know how he prefers Price’s traditional approach over Chris Young’s analytics-driven philosophy.
“He knows how to run things,” Nola said. “And he’s not going to change how the game is played.
“It’s so important because not everybody’s the same. Not everybody can throw fastballs up and blow it by guys. I can [do it] maybe once, but if I do it again, [the hitter] will time it up. The whole point is to change eye levels, change speeds.
“Ground balls still work. Balls down in the zone still work. I don’t think that’s ever going to get away from the game. As kids we all learned, ‘Throw the ball down, throw the ball at the knees, get ground balls early in the count. Don’t try to strike the guy out at the beginning of the at-bat when it’s an 0-0 count.’ That’s what Bryan stresses.”
Nola also spoke highly of his two former pitching coaches: Rick Kranitz and Bob McClure.
“Kranny is one of the best pitching coaches I’ve ever had because he simplified things,” Nola said. “McClure simplified things to the best because he’s old-school. That was your plan, especially in bullpens. We had a bad game, you’d get back to basics and go from there. I don’t see too much of a difference with Bryan in that aspect.”
Bryce Harper on his love for Philly
Harper loves Philly. Philly loves Harper. It’s that simple.
“I feel like I was able to just be Bryce,” Harper said in a Sunday morning chat with the media. “I was able to go out there and be myself and play. It’s funny when I went into the offseason, all my buddies were like, ‘How did you like Philly,’ and I was like, ‘Dude I loved it.’ It was unbelievable.
“I think people might look at me and go ‘Yeah right, you’re crazy,’ but no, I really enjoyed it. I enjoyed the fans. I enjoyed the people. That blue-collar feel. That blue-collar mentality. They want you to work hard. They want you to be accountable. That made me a better player.”
Extras: Scott Kingery on entering his third season, Zack Wheeler on contending, Harper in the cage
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