Before Bernard Malamud's famous novel is rewritten to include the Phils' seemingly natural new slugger, Dobbs
would prefer to play well enough to make the 25-man roster. To do that, he'll have to show a consistent stroke in Grapefruit League action and the ability to play more than one position.
Dobbs homered against Florida State University in Wednesday's 12-4 victory, then took the Tigers' Dennis Tankersley deep in the fourth inning of Thursday's 9-7 loss, one of his three hits.
"Anytime you come to spring and your back is up against the wall, you want to put your best performance out there, no matter what," Dobbs said. "Especially being new to this organization makes it more important, because they have to make a decision within a month."
Dobbs is competing with left-handed swinger Karim Garcia (who went 2-for-5) and right-handed-hitting Jayson Werth. Whomever doesn't start at catcher -- either Rod Barajas or Carlos Ruiz -- and third base -- either Wes Helms or Abraham Nunez -- will make up the other two spots, while Chris Coste seemingly has a job to lose. This assumes the Phillies opt for 12 pitchers.
The competition appears friendly.
"I root for every guy. I don't get caught up with that," Dobbs said. "I have enough to focus on with my game, to
get myself ready to be productive. And that's what the other guys have to do, too."
Garcia feels the same way, while trying to reintroduce himelf to Major League Baseball after spending two years in Japan.
"I'm trying to get everybody to remember me again," said Garcia, who signed a Minor League deal. "Of course I'm
trying to make this team, but there are 29 other teams who are looking at you in Spring Training.
Dobbs, who was claimed off waivers from the Mariners in the offseason, is grateful to be getting an opportunity with a National League club. Though manager Mike Hargrove used his bench a lot last season, reserves tend to get more chances with NL teams. His positional versatility can only help.
"[Wednesday] night, I played third. [Thursday], I played first," Dobbs said. "They know I can play the outfield. Getting a fresh slate in a new league is all I could have asked for. When I was put on waivers, the best-case scenario was a National League team picking me up, and it ended up happening. I think this is big for me, and I hope and pray I can capitalize on it."
Mind ahead of the body:
While his 44-year-old arm will need a full Spring Training to get ready, Jamie Moyer's mind is in midseason form.
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So when Moyer ran into his first jam of the Grapefruit League season -- a first-and-third, one-out jam in the second inning on Thursday -- he thought about damage control, i.e., not allowing a big inning to the defending American League champion Tigers.
"That's what keeps me going," Moyer said after his outing. "You're trying to put yourself in situations you're going to get into during the season. If the spring goes real well, you don't really experience any duress. Then when they come up during the season, they jump up at you."
Moyer limited the Tigers to one run in that inning, but allowed three more in the third, when longtime nemesis Gary
Sheffield smacked a three-run homer. Moyers' 49-pitch outing included just one breaking ball, and didn't include any cut
For the veteran lefty, outing No. 1 was all about fastball location and changeups.
"That's pretty much my style anyway," Moyer said. "To me, it's regaining the feel, the timing, the tempo. I like
that challenge of pitching without all your pitches, because it forces you to be creative. And the hitters will tell you
what kind of stuff you had."
"Even though [pitching] isn't new, it is new. It's getting back on the bike again."
Manager Charlie Manuel is fine with Moyer talking about his first spring outing with the same competitive fire as if it were September.
"I wish everyone talked like that," Manuel said.
As expected, Kyle Drabek's first big-league Spring Training ended on Thursday, when the right-hander was optioned to the Minors so he can begin working out with pitchers and catchers at the Carpenter Complex.
Because of his contract, Drabek spent two weeks in big-league camp, soaking up knowledge from veterans Moyer and Brett Myers. The culmination of his camping experience came on Wednesday night, when the 2006 first-round draft pick started against Florida State University. He gave up a leadoff home run, but lasted two innings, allowing two runs.
"Hopefully, I can get up to the Majors as fast as possible," Drabek said. "These two weeks [in big-league camp] were great. Everyone's helped me out."
Drabek first needs to harness his electric fastball. The Phillies are hoping he shows enough in Minor League camp
to warrant him heading to Class A Lakewood. If not, he could remain in Clearwater for extended Spring Training, then join either Lakewood or short-season Class A Williamsport.
Howard saga to end:
One way or the other, Ryan Howard should be a signed player by the close of business on Friday.
Beginning Friday, teams may renew contracts for any unsigned players, and Howard is the only Phillie who fits that
category. The Phils and Howard's agent, Casey Close, have discussed a multi-year deal, though it looks like he'll receive a one-year contract in the $1 million neighborhood -- which would be a record for a player not yet eligible for salary arbitration.
The Phillies declined to comment on any progress, but it has been a long-standing policy to resolve contract
conflicts such as Howard's on the first possible day.
Howard belted 58 homers en route to earning the NL MVP Award in 2006, but he has no leverage in any negotiations. However, he'll receive a substantial raise from the $355,000 he earned in 2006.
"I have a friend at home that tells me I'm going to pitch until I'm 50, but I have a wife at home telling me I'm not. You never know when your last pitch is going to be." -- Moyer, who is still going strong at 44
Fabio Castro looked electric is his Grapefruit League debut on Thursday, tossing three scoreless innings, while allowing two hits and striking out two. Asked if Manuel thought Castro looked sharper because of a winter-ball advantage, Manuel said, "I don't care about a winter-ball advantage. He looked good." ... Sheffield is 12-for-24 in his career against Moyer in the regular season, with four homers. "He's really going to help that team," Moyer said. ... The Phillies will use the designated hitter on Friday against the Indians and Sunday against the Yankees at Bright House Networks Field.
Myers is scheduled to start Friday's Grapefruit League home opener at 1:05 p.m. ET against the Indians, opposing righty Fausto Carmona. J.A. Happ, Ryan Madson and Antonio Alfonseca will also pitch for Philadelphia.
Lefty reliever Aaron Fultz, who spent two seasons in Philadelphia, is scheduled to pitch for Cleveland.