Phils fans stay home as frustration grows

NL notebook

Baseball Week

April 10, 2005|By DAN CONNOLLY | DAN CONNOLLY,SUN STAFF

The manager has been booed. The stands are half empty.

The veteran second baseman has gotten his way, to the chagrin of the callers lighting up the talk-show lines.

Welcome to opening week of baseball season in tortured Philadelphia.

If it weren't for the Eagles' Terrell Owens grousing about his contract, the City of Brotherly Love would be in a full revolt about its $93 million baseball team.

As it is, though, many seemingly don't care.

After selling out the opener at 2-year-old Citizens Bank Park, the Phillies had a total of a little more than 45,000 at their next two against the Washington Nationals.

The Phillies averaged 40,626 last season and didn't see a crowd smaller than 30,268. They've eclipsed that low-water mark twice in three home games.

Those who did show up weren't happy. They booed new manager Charlie Manuel during Opening Day pre-game introductions, possibly because he's not Jim Leyland.

They also booed second baseman Placido Polanco, who was supposed to be gone this winter but surprisingly accepted arbitration. He was vocal this spring about wanting to start ahead of 26-year-old prospect and fan favorite Chase Utley.

General manager Ed Wade -- really the source of the fan's ire, though he doesn't get introduced at games -- said as early as last September that Utley would be the starter.

But Manuel preferred going with the veteran on Opening Day, and Wade backed the decision, saying, "Charlie needs leeway."

Of course, that meant Wade changed direction from last September and this winter, fueling the Phillies fans' fire in what could be another fun season up I-95.

Trouble in Windy City

If Mark Prior's first inning in a Triple-A game against the Albuquerque Isotopes is any indication, things may get ugly in Chicago.

Prior, testing his achy right elbow in a game for the first time since March 10, gave up five runs and six hits in the first inning. He faced all nine batters in the first and had to retire the No. 8 hitter and pitcher to get out of the jam. He eventually settled down and allowed two more runs in five additional innings against a team named after the Springfield Isotopes of The Simpsons fame.

No word as to whether Prior was distracted by Dancin' Homer.

What a friend

Colorado's Dustan Mohr was so excited that the Rockies won with late-inning heroics last week that he jumped over the dugout railing for the home-plate celebration, injured his left calf and ended up on the disabled list.

To take the goodwill a step further, Mohr, an outfielder, recommended that the Rockies claim Michael Restovich off waivers to replace him on the 25-man roster, which they eventually did. Mohr was a groomsman in Restovich's wedding two years ago when they played in the Minnesota Twins' system together.

"I am disappointed and frustrated, but it's weird how things work out," Mohr said. "Michael is a good guy."

Compiled from interviews, wire services and reports from other newspapers.

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