Spring Training: Philadelphia Phillies catchers, pitchers get first workout in Clearwater, Florida

Wednesday, February 17, 2021
Philadelphia Phillies

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- While holding up a piece of paper with his spring training roster on it, Phillies manager Joe Girardi admits he has a better team today than the team that finished last season, missing the playoffs for a ninth consecutive season.

"This paper doesn't mean a lot, we have to go out and prove it," Girardi exclaims after his first workout with pitchers and catchers in Clearwater, Florida.

Phillies ownership committed more than $200 million this off-season despite losing more than $100 million last year due to a shortened season playing without fans in attendance.

Phillies brought back catcher J.T. Realmuto, shortstop Didi Gregorius and added much-needed veteran bullpen relief as well as pitching depth.

"They're making the commitment to win and telling fans we are going for it. They have really stepped up and it's our job to reward them," Girardi says about Phillies managing partner John Middleton and the ownership group.

Newcomers, like projected closer Archie Bradley, couldn't wait to arrive in Clearwater Wednesday, posting on his social media accounts, "I'm excited."

For starter Aaron Nola, missing the playoffs again last year ate away at him this off-season and he's driven to get them back to the postseason for the first time since 2011.

"It sat with me. To know we missed it by a game, it does sting and carries into this year. Every single game counts," said Nola. "The older I get, the more every game matters."

It's early and only the first day of pictures and catchers, but Girardi senses this team is ready to get over the hump.

"There's a mindset of determination. We're in this to win it," Girardi says.

Among the big storylines in camp is the centerfield job. The Phillies are giving Odubel Herrera a shot to compete as a non-roster invite. Herrera hasn't played in a year and a half after he was suspended for a domestic violence incident.

"He's afforded to show he's a changed a person," Girardi says when asked about Herrera. "It's important that he proves himself."

Girardi acknowledges that not everyone, including Phillies teammates, will be on board with Herrera getting this opportunity and people will have their opinions, but Girardi is asking to give him a second chance to prove himself as a person and a player.

"I believe in second chances," Girardi says.

Nola echoes that same sentiment saying, "I believe in second chances." He also says he believes Herrera has learned from his bad decision he made and he can also help the team win.

Herrera has roughly six weeks to prove himself as a person and as a player in Clearwater before the Phillies have to make a decision on his future for opening day.

Phillies open this season on April 1, 2021 against Atlanta.