CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Phillies outfielder Nick Williams stepped out of the team's clubhouse Tuesday afternoon at Spectrum Field and ducked behind a trailer to check out the cars parked just beyond the outfield wall.
"I've got to take a look," he said with a smile.
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Williams crushed a home run earlier at Mike Schmidt Field at Carpenter Complex. The ball sailed over the right-field fence and onto the roof of manager Gabe Kapler's rental car. It made a small dent.
"I would trade a Nick Williams home run for a dent in a rental car any day of the week," Kapler said.
Yeah, but would he feel the same about a smashed windshield?
"A Nick Williams home run, yes," Kapler said. "The car can go in the shop, I don't need to see it for a long time. I'll get another rental. I want as many Nick Williams home runs as possible."
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Kapler had red "Be Bold" T-shirts made for everybody in camp. The letters "VAM" are on one of the sleeves.
"VAM" stands for "value at the margins."
"I have some close friends who use the terminology in our conversations, a group of people that sort of inspire each other to peel back additional layers," Kapler said. "The meat and potatoes is always the most important things that our jobs entail.
"The meat and potatoes for a catcher is keeping the ball in the zone. It's to throw, it's to block. And then the value at the margins might be the conditioning that they're doing out on the field that nobody sees. The value at the margins might be the relationships they're developing with the pitching staff. We're just thinking about where we can find the value at the margins, because we may not have the track record of some of the other clubs that we're going to be competing with. So, therefore, we have to get the extra value. We have to find the value at the margins, so we can get that extra inch, which turns into an extra game, and at the end of the year we're fighting for an NL East title."
Early impressions of K-Rod
Francisco Rodriguez signed a Minor League contract with the Phillies to try to resurrect his career. The 36-year-old threw live batting practice Tuesday.
"Very professional," Kapler said. "Very competitive. Dropped in a few fastballs on the outside corner that make you think about vintage Frankie Rodriguez. Look, he's not 97 [mph] anymore. But he's also a much different pitcher. His mentality is, 'I'm going to hit the corners. I'm going to execute right when I need to execute and make a big pitch.' At this point, we all trust that he can do that."
Rodriguez posted a 7.82 ERA in 28 appearances before the Tigers released him last season. The Nationals later released him. Rodriguez's fastball averaged 89.6 mph last year. He said in bullpen sessions in January it clocked anywhere from 89-92 mph. But clearly he is going to have to pitch really well to make the 25-man roster.
• Kapler talked last week about occasionally sending players home to help them rest and recuperate. Veteran relievers Pat Neshek and Tommy Hunter left camp after throwing bullpen sessions in the morning.
"Sometimes we just want to get them off their feet," Kapler said. "We had that conversation with Kranny [pitching coach Rick Kranitz] preemptively. We had that conversation with the players. We're involving them in their development and their recovery process."
• The Phillies will play the University of Tampa baseball team Thursday. Kapler said the Phillies have not decided on a starting pitcher.