The Phillies are zeroing in on a new pitcher, and they hope this acquisition does not mind getting hit around.
The team opened a search on opening day for a lefthander to throw batting practice, hoping to give its hitters a different pregame look from the cast of righthanded coaches who regularly toss in the cages. Manager Gabe Kapler, in a video posted to Twitter, said the Phillies were looking for someone to "deliver strikes to our men" and "be a strong cultural contributor."
Hopeful lefthanders applied through the team's website and were required to post a highlight reel to YouTube. The Phillies said they received more than 200 applications and are now putting together a list of finalists.
"When we face lefties, just being able to see something out of a different slot is good on the backdrop of whatever field," Rhys Hoskins said. "You see righty, righty, righty and you know exactly what it looks like coming out of that slot. I think it would be helpful. It just adds to the comfort once the game starts."
Kapler, who was a righthanded-hitting outfielder, said that during his playing career he liked seeing pregame pitches from a lefthander if he was facing a lefthanded pitcher that night.
"Did it help? I don't know. It was a comfort thing," Kapler said. "One of the things we're all recognizing is how important it is to pay very close attention to the comfort of our guys."
The Phillies received applications from current college pitchers, players who retired from careers in independent baseball, area coaches who throw BP, and a pitcher who was once a late-round Phillies draft pick. Kapler has watched a few, and said some are "really entertaining." It was a "cool way" to search, Kapler said.
"It's so hard. I have a hard time throwing it," Kapler said of batting practice. "I can throw a hard, firm BP, but when I try to lay it in there and make our guys really comfortable, it's hard. It's a skill. It takes a lot of work."