Philadelphia Phillies ready to fight with Didi Gregorius back

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- When J. T. Realmuto and Philadelphia Phillies pitchers and catchers hit the field for their first spring training workout one week from Wednesday in Clearwater, Florida, they will do so with one thing on their mind: ending their playoff drought.

It's approaching 10 years since they last made the postseason after yet another collapse last year. Phillies lost seven of their final eight games.

"I'm always hungry to get to the playoffs, that's what you play for and that's where you want to be. You want to be in the World Series and we have a great group of guys that can do that top to bottom," said Didi Gregorius, who inked a two-year $28 million contract, sources confirm to 6abc.

The Phillies shortstop tells 6abc's Jeff Skversky he's ready to fight and he gets that sense from his teammates as well. This is a sentiment felt around the organization with spring training around the corner.

"More and more guys tasted that bitterness. The way the season ended last season and I think that's a good thing. Guys are hungry and have a chip on their shoulder. I think there's a real desire to show everybody how good of a team we really are," said Phillies General Manager Sam Fuld.

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Phillies front office talked about the upcoming season and addressed their major need: relief pitching

On top of bringing back Realmuto and Gregorius, the new-look Phillies front office addressed their major need: relief pitching. The Phillies had the second-worst bullpen in baseball history last year.

Manager Joe Girardi likes the upgrades including projected closer Archie Bradley, and he's crossing his fingers they can finally get over the hump.

"There are so many things that have to go right. Healthy is always the first one. Acquiring pitching depth is really important because at some point, and you pray to God it doesn't happen, someone will get nicked up. Need that depth. From a depth standpoint, we have improved. I like where we are at," said Girardi.

With one of the highest payrolls in baseball, the number one question is: are the Phillies playoff contenders? New President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski, who has led three teams to the World Series, is cautiously optimistic.

"I've never been much on prognostication. I figure it works itself out. I like the club. A lot of things have to go well for you in a year to win, winning is tough. You have to perform well, stay healthy, stay focused," Dombrowski told Skversky.

Bringing back Gregorius is a big key for the Phillies infield and lineup.

Gregorius, 30, was the only Phillie to play in all 60 games of the shortened 2020 season and led the Phillies last in batting average, hits, RBIs and total bases.

The Phillies are still focused on improving the team. They are eyeing more pitching and they want to add key role players to the bench.
There is still a possibility Odubel Herrera will get another chance to compete for a spot on the team. The Phillies are still deciding on what to do with him after a domestic incident in Atlantic City in July 2019. Herrera's girlfriend declined to press charges. He was suspended 85 games for the incident.

The Phillies have not made a final decision on whether or not to bring him to major league camp for a big league tryout. Herrera is due to make $10 million in 2021 and the team has club options for 2022 and 2023. An all-star center fielder in 2016, Herrera hit .222 with one home run and 16 RBIs in 39 games in 2019, his last season in MLB.

The Phillies would like to have an everyday centerfielder. Scott Kingery could factor into that role this season.

Jean Segura sounds locked in to play second with Gregorius back at short.

Girardi says the Phillies are looking for a healthy Kingery to compete all over the diamond because he is capable of that.

Phillies are hoping as a team they are capable of finally making the playoffs for the first time since 2011.
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