Leslie’s Lowdown

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Archive for the ‘Ryan Howard’ Category

Staking out the Howard hearings

Posted by jrfinger on February 20, 2008

Ryan HowardCLEARWATER, Fla. – You could hear a pin drop around spring training on Wednesday, it was so quiet. That’s because almost every member of the media, except our crew and a couple of other reporters, were at the Vinoy Hotel in St. Petersburg staking out the Ryan Howard arbitration hearing. I didn’t realize how loud the media really is, but I digress.

Our other crew, which included John Boruk, was at the site of the arbitration hearing. The hearing got underway at 10 a.m., and I saw the Phillies brass stroll in here (the Clearwater training complex) a little after 3 p.m.. They did not talk, and it’s my understanding that Ryan said just a few words to the media when he finally left the hotel, only to be cut off by his agent, who put an end to the interview.

A decision is expected by Thursday.

Copycat
Jimmy Rollins spoke with Comcast SportsNet on Tuesday and met with the entire media Wednesday. The highlight Wednesday came when he was asked about Carlos Beltran’s declaration – Tell Jimmy we’re the team to beat this year – Rollins said, “There are two things about that. First there are four teams that are going to work to prevent that from happening. Second, hasn’t he ever heard of plagiarism? Rollins, of course, called the Phillies the team to beat going into the 2007 season.

With most of the Philadelphia media at the site of the arbitration hearing, much of the media talking to Jimmy was from the New York area.

Good news
After flying to Los Angeles on Monday to see renowned orthopedist Dr. Lewis Yokum, pitcher Scott Mathieson got word that he won’t need surgery again on his elbow. Matheison felt some pain in his elbow while throwing a bullpen session recently.

Mathieson has a mild strain of the lunar collateral ligament, the same ligament that was repaired in 2006. He will long toss on Thursday and should be able to throw off the mound by mid March.

Burrell the base stealer?
The team hit the field early Wednesday for base running drills, and it’s worth mentioning that left fielder Pat Burrell, while not looking fast, looked faster. I know, I can hear the jokes, “My Grandmother can run faster. … He probably still looks like he’s carrying a piano on his back,” but seriously, he did look more fleet of foot.

Even Burrell joked about his speed the other day. When asked if he was any faster now that his foot is 100 percent he said “Oh yeah, I’m flying around the base paths.”

That’s it for now, folks and that’s it for me from Clearwater. Hope you enjoyed the reports.

John Boruk takes the reigns Thursday – if he’s not still outside the Vinoy Hotel.

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Waiting for Ryan

Posted by jrfinger on February 15, 2008

Ryan HowardCLEARWATER, Fla. – E.F. Hutton had nothin’ on Ryan Howard Friday. When Howard talked, everyone was listening … intently. At one point in the day, though, we (the media) didn’t know if Howard would talk.

To eliminate numerous individual interview requests, the Phillies and Howard opted to hold one big “media availability.” Call it what you want, but when there’s a table, a Phillies backdrop, a microphone and speaker system set up, I call it a press conference. That’s where the problem stemmed from. Without a contract, with the possibility of an arbitration hearing looming and Comcast SportsNet set to take the “media availability” live, someone saw a media firestorm brewing … and I’m guessing that someone was Howard’s agent, Casey Close.

Just a couple of hours before the scheduled gathering the Phillies announced the “media availability” had been called off and that Ryan wouldn’t be talking Friday. It was a “mutual decision,” according to the Phillies.

So, how were they going to pull this off? With the high likelihood that the two sides are headed to the arbitration table, Ryan was going to somehow speed seven days workout out under the watchful eyes of reporters – without talking?

Though Ryan fortunately decided that the press conference-style spotlight was too bright for his liking, he was comfortable with his locker as the backdrop for a more informal meeting with 10 or so of his closest reporter buddies. There, he spoke for eight minutes and was funny, engaging and especially elusive when it came to questions about his contract. But never did he brush off anyone’s question without making a joke about it.

There, it’s over. Now was that really so painful?

One more thing on Ryan Howard: Although he’s here early, it’s nothing new for him. He has arrived early in the past and noted that he’s been working out at a gym near Tampa since the middle of January.

On Friday he was the last position player to finish his workout. He spent nearly an hour on the field with third-base coach Steve Smith, taking grounders and working on his footwork. He said he really wants to improve on his defense this year.

Isn’t it amazing that just a few short years ago barely anyone knew who Ryan Howard was?

Who is that guy?
Pat Burrell saw his shirt today for the first time. After being gone for two days, Burrell returned to the clubhouse only to find a teammate wearing a T-shirt with his mug on it. His first thought was, “what the [heck]?” Then he looked around the room and noticed that the shirts were in every locker. What really got him was the fact that his manager was even wearing one.

Burrell knows Chase Utley made them, and smiling, he said, “Chase doesn’t want to get in a T-shirt war with me because I’ll win.”

I can’t wait to see that shirt.

Meanwhile, I’ve had numerous requests/inquires about how to buy this shirt. Sorry. So far they are only made for members of the team. However, after passing on some of the e-mails I received to the Phillies, the idea was brought up of maybe making the shirts to sell and giving the money to Burrell’s favorite charity. It was only an idea mentioned in passing, but personally I think that’s a great idea.

Signed and sealed
Lost in all the Ryan Howard chasing is the fact that the Phillies have negotiated deals with several players. Headed into camp, the Phillies had 21 players (not named Howard) unsigned. But after Friday that is eight players down, 13 to go. Among those who have settled are, backup catcher Chris Coste, who will make $415,000 next season, and catcher Carlos Ruiz, who will make $425,000.

All of the unsigned players have less than three years major-league service time so they’re not eligible for arbitration.

March 2 is the first day the team can automatically renew contracts, but the Phillies typically negotiate deals before then. If they get to the point of renewal it means they couldn’t come to an agreement with the player. That rarely happens, but that’s what happened last year with Ryan Howard.

The notable names on the yet-to-be-signed list are: Cole Hamels, Shane Victorino, Kyle Kendrick and Gregg Dobbs. Hamels stands to make some good money, likely in the $500,000 range.

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