CLEARWATER, Fla. (AP)Philadelphia Phillies manager Rob Thomson had a simple message before the National League champions took the field Thursday for their first spring training workout for pitchers and catchers.
”Make sure that we ramp up appropriately and make sure we don’t push it to try to impress anybody,” Thomson said. ”Just go out there, be yourself.”
Thomson said there are three parts of the season – the first week of spring training, the first week of spring training games and the first week of regular-season games – that make him nervous because they are different levels of intensity.
”This part of camp is all about health,” Thomson said. ”Make sure we ease into this. Stay under control. Making sure we come out of this thing in a good place.”
The Phillies were the final team to earn a playoff spot last season.
Thomson became the interim manager, replacing Joe Girardi, on June 23, with the Phillies at 22-29. Under him, Philadelphia went 65-46 and beat St. Louis, Atlanta and San Diego to capture the NL pennant in the Phillies’ first postseason appearance since 2011.
Their World Series run ended in a six-game series loss to Houston.
There already was a sense of excitement at camp on Thursday.
”I’m hungry, and I wanted to get back there as quick as possible,” right-hander Zack Wheeler said. ”I think that’s probably how a lot of guys feel around here. Speaking for myself, I want to get back there.”
And that ends any concerns about complacency.
”As I see these guys come into camp, I feel the excitement they have,” said Thomson, who had the interim manager tag removed and received a two-year contract during the postseason. ”Now my thought is turning more to reining them in a little bit, and making sure they don’t do too much.”
While slugger Bryce Harper will start the season rehabbing after elbow surgery, president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski has been busy.
New faces include shortstop Trea Turner, infielder Josh Harrison and pitchers Taijuan Walker, Gregory Soto, Craig Kimbrel and Matt Strahm.
”Obviously the guys that were here, it makes it a little easier for us to just have that chip on our shoulder,” Wheeler said. ”We’ve had some really good additions. Those guys are going to help out a bunch.”
NOTES: Soto is having visa issues and is not in camp. Thomson said the left-hander lives about 20 minutes from the Phillies’ complex in the Dominican Republic and is doing spring training workouts there.
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