I'm beginning the first mailbag of the new year
with a question I had never received before.Hey Ken, here's a curveball for the new year. In glancing at the
Phillies roster from 1883, I stumbled across the name Abraham Lincoln. How
is this possible, especially since he was assassinated in 1865? -- Martin B.,
That is an amazing random question and a fantastic way to start 2008. When
I first saw it, I thought you were nuts, and decided to prove it through
research. Of course, I found the opposite: an Abraham Lincoln did play for
the Phillies, though he was obviously not the author of the Gettysburg Address.
His full name was Abraham Lincoln Wolsenholme, and he was a catcher who
made his debut on June 4, 1883, according to www.baseballreference.com. A 22-year-old rookie, he went 1-for-11 in
his first and only season in the Majors (the hit was a double), getting 11
more plate appearances than the much famous Archie "Moonlight" Graham.
Here's the awesome part: He was born March 4, 1861, the same day Lincoln
was sworn in as the 16th President, which is likely where he got his middle
name. He also passed away on his birthday in 1916 in Philadelphia, 150
miles from Ford's Theatre.
I enjoyed answering that inquiry, though I realize I likely opened the door
for questions regarding William Aloysius "Blondie" Purcell, Frank Gray
"Piggy" Ward and Alonzo Breitenstein.
Is there a little more pressure on Chase Utley now that Ryan Howard and
Jimmy Rollins have a Most Valuable Player Award in their trophy cases? -- Brian B., Montgomery, N.J.
It's doubtful. Utley puts plenty of pressure on himself without worrying about
winning an MVP. He'll continue as the game's best offensive second baseman,
regardless of any hardware won by his teammates.
What's going on with Kris Benson? Didn't he throw for scouts? You
mentioned several times that the Phillies might be interested in him. -- Mike
B., Hilton Head Island, S.C.
The team's interest has cooled somewhat. General manager Pat Gillick said the
organization felt Benson was "still a couple months" away, meaning that it
was too early to get a proper gauge on how he was doing in his recovery from right
shoulder surgery. He's still a possibility, just not a very likely one, since they've subsequently went in a different direction with Chad Durbin.
There has been a lot of talk of securing starting pitching this
offseason. Is there anyone on the farm who could step into a starter's role
and be as effective as Kyle Kendrick was in 2007? -- Wayne S., Mechanicsburg,
Have a question about the Phillies?
E-mail your query to MLB.com Phillies beat reporter Todd Zolecki for possible inclusion in a future Inbox column. Letters may be edited for brevity, length and/or content.
The Phillies don't think anyone is close at this point, but they quickly
point out that they said that last year, too, before Kendrick showed up
and pitched well. Keep an eye on Josh Outman, Carlos Carrasco, J.A. Happ
and Joe Savery. One of them could be wearing a Phillies uniform during the
Are there any plans to hire Mike Schmidt as a hitting or bench coach?
-- Jim M., Langhorne Pa.
No. Schmidt will likely return for his usual 10-day stint as a special
hitting instructor in Spring Training, but he doesn't want anything more
than that. Schmidt dipped his toe in the managerial waters a few years ago
as the Class A Clearwater Threshers manager, and left after one season.
What are the chances of the Phillies giving Freddy Garcia another shot
or bringing back Eric Milton? -- Shane D., Philadelphia
Zero. And seriously, why would they want to?
I noticed that Bob Wickman is still a free agent. Could he be a possibility for the bullpen? He could be a nice middle guy and good insurance should something happen to Brad Lidge and Tom Gordon at closer. -- Anthony A., Oreland, Pa.
The Phillies were slightly interested in Wickman when he was released by Atlanta late last season, but soured when they believed he would be unhappy doing anything but closing. That was one of the reasons he was released by Atlanta. If that remains true, Philadelphia will remain uninterested.
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.