If it’s one thing the Philadelphia Phillies have not been used to over the past few years, it’s players feeling disgruntled to the media. That’s what shall happen when you’re coming off a .500 season and looking up at both the Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals for the top spot in your division.
That’s the scenario the Phillies are coming to as they enter the 2013 season. But, according to Jonathan Papelbon and Roy Halladay, the Phillies’ issues aren’t about an aging ball club.
“Since I’ve been here, I haven’t seen any leadership,” Papelbon said.
He’d continue on….
“Every good team that I’ve been a part of has a good core group of veterans and an influx of a good group of young guys and I think that’s a recipe for success. But at the same time, that doesn’t mean we’re going to have success. In my opinion, this team has way more to lose than to prove. I think a lot of guys on this team have proved a lot. But I think this year if we don’t go out and do what we’re capable of and supposed to do, then we have a lot more to lose.”
Papelbon made these comments to the Allentown Morning Call newspaper.
Lack of leadership may have been one element that contributed to the Phillies sub-par (by recent Phillies’ standards) 2012 campaign. Injuries (most notably to Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Roy Halladay) had a lot to do with it as well.
Halladay and Jimmy Rollins have since come out and said that they agreed with what Papelbon said. They could’ve done this because they do agree or simply to douse water on the flames Papelbon created when he was interviewed by the Allentown paper. Either way, losing veterans like Utley and Howard give credence to the idea that the leaders that were in the Phillies’ locker room from 2007-2011 were unable to steer the Phils’ ship as they were passed in 2012 by the Nats and Bravos.
The important thing in 2013 will be how healthy this veteran Phillies team will be able to stay and if the young players like Darin Ruf and others are able to take that next step toward becoming perennial all-stars in the future for Philadelphia. There are a host of veterans on this team and it is up to them to embrace a mentorship role for the up-and-comers as well as being “leaders”.
The Darian Ruf’s of Spring Training have an increased opportunity to impress their teams. This isn’t just in Clearwater. The Phillies will be sending 10 players to be a part of the World Baseball Classic which commences in a week. Many other players that would normally be in either Florida or Arizona by this time will already be playing competitive baseball at an international level.
Rollins will wear USA Baseball’s colors before he puts on the Phillies pinstripes in April. With the World Baseball Classic right around the corner, the opportunity some younger players have will be heightened more so than it normally is around February and March.
Who knows…maybe new leaders will emerge.
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