Coach Mick Billmeyer has better stuff pitching BP than Cloyd had against the Braves. The first pitch he threw was belted 440-feet into the right-field stands by Jason Heyward, who had five hits, including three doubles. Before the Phillies got through the lineup, the Braves scored seven runs on Cloyd, who gave up five extra-base hits.
On the plus side, the Phillies' relievers tossed eight scoreless innings, including three frames from Mauricio Robles in just his third big league game.
So there's that.
There's also Ryan Howard, who showed up to meet his team for the final series of the season. Working out in Clearwater after knee surgery, reports from Atlanta indicate that Howard looked leaner, meaner and quicker. He also seemed motivated with something to prove next season.
Howard is owed $85 million the next three seasons. That makes him virtually untradeable. He is aware that some have written him off and he said he draws motivation from that.
“Sure,” he said. “I think it drives people. I think a lot of guys say they don’t listen to it -- and you try not to -- but, you know, it trickles in. You become motivated, a little fired up as far as that is concerned. But the main focus is for me to be fired up for myself, wanting to prove it to my teammates more than someone else.
“I’ve seen the stuff. I’ve seen stuff in the offseason when we didn’t make the playoffs. All you can do is go out there the next year and put your best foot forward -- play for yourself, play for your teammates, your organization, your fans. Just put all that to rest by doing it on the field.”
How can Howard not have something to prove next season? It's one thing to hear criticism from the fans and the radio shows, but to have the new manager question past preparation, well, that's a call to arms. One has to expect that Howard locks himself away at the training complex in Clearwater and morphs into an angry Ryan Howard.
The Big Piece. Everyone loved that guy.
"I’m focused on getting this team and this organization back to where we belong," Howard told the guys in Atlanta, "and that’s on top."