Philadelphia Phillies: We aren’t dead yet
- Updated: April 26, 2012
They’re old. They’re broken down. They’re done.
The Philadelphia Phillies listened to the ridicule all month, as if their AARP cards are waiting in their mailbox, with retirement papers on the way.
“People keep talking about how old we are (30.8 average, second oldest in the major leagues) and how our window is about to close,” general manager Ruben Amaro says. “Maybe I’m delusional, but I really don’t think we’re old. We’re certainly not as old as other people think.
“I don’t believe our careers are over by any means.”
The Phillies might not be the same superpower that won five consecutive National League East titles, but after their 7-2 victory Wednesday against the Arizona Diamondbacks, they’re proving they’re not ready to surrender the throne.
The Phillies scored 20 runs in their last 19 innings against the Diamondbacks, and instead of answering questions about whether the end is near, they left town talking as if they’ve finally found themselves.
“The window closes every year, doesn’t it?” says Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins, 33. “We’ve had a long window, not as long as the (New York) Yankees or (Atlanta) Braves in their day, but the window closes every year because you have new personnel.
“It’s different because of our personnel and the injuries we’ve had, but what makes it a lot different is that the reality is different than the perception. We may have to do things differently now, but we’re going to show the outside world that we still have plenty left in the tank.”
The Phillies, for years the Broad Street Bullies of the NL, suddenly look emaciated next to their former selves. They entered Wednesday having scored the third-fewest runs in baseball, and their 12 homers were three more than Los Angeles Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp. They also had drawn the second-fewest walks, with two NL teams grounding into more double plays.
“We’re going to hear about our offense all year, but it’s going to be a different kind of offense that people are used to seeing,” leadoff hitter Juan Pierre said. “We’re not going to be sitting back hitting home runs. We’re going to scrape and scrap.”
They exemplified their sleeker selves Wednesday by amassing 13 hits (11 singles and two doubles).
The Phillies simply have no choice. They are without two-time home-run champ Ryan Howard (torn Achilles) for likely another month. All-Star second baseman Chase Utley (knee) still has no timetable for his return. They’re without 2008 Cy Young Award winner Cliff Lee, too.
“Every team has issues,” Amaro says. “Guys have to adjust.”
Rollins, normally the leadoff hitter, has two extra-base hits and three RBI as the No. 3 hitter. Right fielder Hunter Pence, normally the fifth-place hitter, has three hits in his last 24 at-bats as the cleanup hitter. And the Phillies are waiting for outfielder-first baseman John Mayberry Jr. (.200, two RBI) to simply hit.
“We have to keep plugging away and not get frustrated,” says starter Cole Hamels (3-1), who gave up four hits and two runs in eight innings and drove in two runs Wednesday. “We’re trying to play a different game now. Really, I think it’s just a matter of time.”
And when that time comes, the Phillies defiantly say, look out.
“We got knocked down,” Pence says. “We’ve got to keep getting back. And hopefully we get on a roll and start knocking other people down.”
– Copyright 2012 USA TODAY