PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Spring Training is different for the Phillies this year. Not just because of the new faces like Larry Bowa, AJ Burnett, and Marlon Byrd, but because of what is expected of the players by manager Ryne Sandberg.
Sandberg’s first Spring Training as manager of the Phillies has brought a renewed energy, and along with it, new workout habits. “I think guys are in here early, they’re leaving later, and they’re really working a lot more efficiently and I think that’s really going to show out on the field,” Cole Hamels said earlier in the week.
They’re working so hard, there just hasn’t been much energy left for the games.
“A lot of guys right now, and this isn’t an excuse, they work hard in the morning, by the time game starts they’re dead,” bench coach Larry Bowa told Angelo Cataldi and the 94WIP Morning Show on Wednesday. “In fact, Dave Hollins, who is one of the scouts here said, ‘This is the hardest camp that I’ve seen as far as guys working.’ It’s going to take a little while for these guys to get the soreness and stiffness out.”
Sandberg isn’t the only one in the dugout demanding more of the players, as Bowa is legendarily demanding as well. It remains to be seen what difference it makes on the field, but it’s clear the players are responding to the new culture.
One of the players that the team needs a big year from is Ryan Howard. After struggling with decreased production and injuries, a comeback year from Howard would be a welcome jolt to the lineup.
“When you can’t swing a bat and one of your legs is bothering you, especially a power hitter is your lower half, and he had no push off of his legs to generate bat speed or power [last year],” Bowa said of Howard. “So far this Spring he’s doing a lot of drills. I expect him to have a good year. He’s hit a lot of balls good in batting practice. Is he gonna hit 50 [home runs]? No he’s not going to hit 50, but there’s no reason why he can’t hit 30 home runs, if he’s healthy.”