With big signings and title hopes, there's a new vibe in Phils' camp

February 15th, 2023

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The mitts are poppin’ again, but everything else feels differently this spring at BayCare Ballpark.

Everything feels better.

“There just seems to be a belief,” Rhys Hoskins said Wednesday.

“Guys are coming into camp ready this year, more than I’ve seen in the past,” J.T. Realmuto said.

“Definitely a little chip,” Kyle Schwarber said. “It’s not like we’re happy with how it ended. So I think there’s a chip on our shoulder, but I also think it’s a little exciting, too, because we know where we can go.”

Phillies pitchers and catchers will have their first formal workout Thursday at Carpenter Complex. The first full-squad workout is Tuesday. There hasn’t been this much anticipation about the Phillies’ Spring Training since Cliff Lee joined Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt to form "The Rotation" in 2011.

The 2022 Phillies were the 12th and final team to make the postseason, but they steamrolled the Cardinals, Braves and Padres on their way to the National League pennant before losing the World Series to Houston in six games. Last fall’s success would have been enough to get everybody excited about the 2023 season -- season-ticket sales at Citizens Bank Park are up 50% from the end of last season -- but then ownership gave president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski the OK to acquire Trea Turner, Taijuan Walker, Gregory Soto, Craig Kimbrel, Matt Strahm and Josh Harrison to strengthen the roster.

“That’s the exciting part,” Schwarber said. “It’s not easy. It’s never easy. But look at what we added in the offseason. We added a lot of pieces. Obviously, Trea. But also in the bullpen. It’s exciting. How can you not be excited about that? It’s really cool when you have that backing from ownership and they’re trying to give you every resource that they can to have a successful season.”

It appears players plan to take advantage of it. At the very least, they want to get the sour taste of losing to Houston out of their mouths.

“I’m not going to name any specific players, but I’ve seen it in multiple guys -- they seem hungry, they seem ready to work and they’ve come to camp in great shape,” Realmuto said. “Everybody I’ve caught so far, which is most of our high-end guys, seem more ready at this point than they ever have.”

Phillies manager Rob Thomson alluded to it, too. He said he has been asked a lot about complacency following the team’s postseason success, but he said he has found the opposite to be true since he got to Clearwater.

Thomson almost feels like he needs to rein in some players. It’s understandable. They’re excited, too.

“We have great players,” Hoskins said. “We added more great players. So I just think there’s a quieter confidence, not only from the player standpoint, but the strength and conditioning side, the athletic training side, the hitting coaches, the pitching coaches. They’re confident that we can get back there as a group. There's just a confidence that we can do it.”