Ryan Howard and Josh Beckett got the juices flowing in Clearwater.
In the eyes of Red Sox pitcher Josh Beckett, Ryan Howard appeared to drop his bat and 'pimp it' after he took his pitch deep to center field in the sixth inning yesterday. It would have been his 11th homer of spring training, except the wind knocked it down and Adam Stern made an easy catch.
As Howard jogged past the mound back toward the Phillies' dugout, Beckett let Howard have it.
I didn’t catch the spat, but Tom Goodman of Swing and a Miss did. Here’s what Goodman saw:
"Well, at the time I was quite annoyed. Beckett is apparently disliked intensely by friend and foe alike. The replay clearly showed (this is no interpretation) that Howard was NOT styling. And if you read Jason Stark on ESPN this AM he says Beckett was sorry it happened. But the whole thing was preceded by an incident just before the Howard shot when Beckett walked around the mound annoyed and then buzzed J-Roll twice after Jimmy stepped out on him. Then, the play at the plate (good ole Dancy) saw Beckett get fired up again, pumping his fist like he just won the Series."
I've personally never cared for Beckett. He’s right around the age of Brett Myers, but has accomplished more and is better. His six career wins against the Phils is the most against any team. He's one of those guys who will always be one step ahead of the Phillies, and this latest incident only puts him ahead even more.
Back to the Phillies, I find it hard envisioning how this laid-back group would respond to something like this during the regular season. I do not recall a single bench clearing incident season, and almost none involving this core of players.
------ A report on Phillies.com this weekend indicated Charlie Manuel has narrowed the final bullpen candidates to a list that includes Robinson Tejeda, Ricardo Rodriguez, Chris Booker Eude Brito and Yoel Hernandez. The notable omission is of course Aquilino Lopez, who was shelled in his latest outing. I’m putting all my chips on Rodriguez, and expect the Phillies to work something out with Washington in order to keep Booker.
------ The Phillies released 20 minor leaguers yesterday, including pitcher Aaron Myette. As soon as I get the finalized list, I will post it in this space. In the meantime, if you happen upon the information in your Web travels, please post it in the comments.
------ Carlos Pena was released by the Tigers. I mentioned Pena earlier as a possible addition to the Phillies bench. The 27-year-old left-handed hitter hit 18 homers in 260 at bats last season.
------ Catching up on some older news, Cole Hamels will begin the season pitching for Single-A Clearwater. He was originally scheduled to come north to Double-A Reading. The team’s top-ranked prospect, according to Baseball America, is shamefully one of only two Phillies to make the magazine’s list of top 100 prospects. Hamels ranks 68, and left-hander Gio Gonzalez ranks 73.