Author Archives: DCB

Good Times on the Mound: Early Spring Training 2017

Early bullpen with coach Marty Reed looking on

We’re posting this so that those of you who follow Jesse with a subscription here get a heads up. He is scheduled to throw an inning tomorrow (Saturday, March 4) in his first competitive game since August 2015. It’s just spring training, but still…

Baseball’s a funny game. That inning will be in Clearwater against the Philadelphia Phillies. You can watch it if you are either in the Phillies’ viewing region or have a subscription to MLB.TV. Game time is 1:05 p.m. We don’t know what inning the Braves want him to go in.

Some of us were down in Orlando last week and got to watch Jesse finally throw against live hitters for the first time in 18 months. He faced Nick Markakis, Freddie Freeman, and Matt Kemp in practice. Jesse threw about 15 pitches, mostly in the zone. He looked quite ready to compete. We watched him throw in a sim game three days later as well. Again he looked strong and ready, his motion was loose, free, and easy. No arm pain to speak of, according to him, and as long as he kept the ball down the hitters were struggling to get their barrels on the ball.

We’ll have more to say after tomorrow’s outing in Clearwater. Just wanted those of you who have committed your email addresses to Jesse to know you may be able to catch a glimpse of him in your living rooms this weekend.

Go Braves! Chop On!

Life Before Spring Training 2017: First Stop, Orlando

Rest for yet another member of baseball’s Tommy John Brotherhood began on October 5, 2016. In early October Jesse was told not to touch a ball until he got the word from the Braves front office. He’d gone through a long season of rehab at the Braves’ facility in Orlando (Tommy John surgery was in October of 2015).

It was a wild ride, to say the least in that part of the world last year: hurricanes, murderous alligators, the Pulse nightclub, and Christina Grimmie. Look it all up. When last year began, Jesse had no idea what was about to happen except that he needed to take care of his elbow and stay in shape.

But the 2016 season began with his trade by the Phillies to the Pirates. That was surprising and frustrating, to tell the truth, but Jesse and the Pirate staff got along great and team executives in the front office were high on what Jesse could do for them once he recovered from his surgery. Alas, the Pirates needed to cover 3rd Continue reading

A New Start: Pirates and Rehab in 2016

JTB-First Pirates Head Shot photoshoppedYou could make a movie worth watching about almost every young guy who gets a chance to become a professional baseball player. It’s not easy trying to make it to The Show. Heck, it’s not easy moving up from AA ball. Few players just fly through the minor leagues without going through some crazy tough times. Jesse Biddle’s struggles these past three years have been interesting, to say the least. But what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Right?

It seemed like it was going to be an uneventful 2016 for him living down in Clearwater and working to get back on track after October Tommy John surgery. Up until about two weeks ago. Then Jesse got a call from the Phillies front office saying they were designating him for assignment (DFA) and taking him off the 40-man roster. They needed the spot to pick up left-handed relief specialist Bobby LaFromboise off the waiver wire.

That was a bit of a difficult thing to swallow. It meant Jesse was being re-assigned to full minor Continue reading

The Pitcher’s Elbow: Tommy John Surgery and Life on the Edge of the Knife

Throwing for the Pigs - July 2015

Throwing for the Pigs – July 2015

Years ago, Jesse heard scouts tell him that the career of all special athletes inevitably means periodically having to deal with serious injury and/or illness. “When you make your living with your body, things happen.” The best advice he was given is not to think or worry about injury, even though you know it’s an inevitability. There are always bumps in the road no matter what you do. You deal with them all the way to the end of your journey. Success will come when success comes.

Jesse got closer in 2015 to his ultimate goal of getting called up to the major leagues. But he had to Continue reading

Steady As She Goes

Bacon and Eggs Night at Coca-Cola Park.

Bacon and Eggs Night at Coca-Cola Park.

We’re waiting a bit to report on how competition is going for Jesse. There’s no question he’s figuring out how to pitch as an IronPig now. It’s all about experience and learning … and, of course hard work.

He has his third AAA game tonight (July 22) at Coca-Cola Park against the Toledo Mud Hens. It should be an interesting and somewhat ironic evening. The first team Jesse ever played for in Tee-ball when he was six was called the Mud Hens. He was a star and very concerned about the competition whenever he knew he was facing a team with seven-year-old studs on it.

So, officially, tonight is “Bacon and Eggs Night” at Lehigh Valley. We get to see Jesse decked out in a bacon uniform for the first time. Mmmmm! Bacon!

See you out there.

Working on Stuff: Adding Sinkers and Sliders to the Arsenal

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Green Night at Reading (Credit: Tug Haines)

We note this all the time, but minor league baseball is about working on your game and developing into a well-rounded player. For starting pitchers, that means seeing what you can do with more than just a straight fastball and breaking ball.

After the first few games of the 2015 season, Jesse Biddle gradually went to work on seeing what he could do with two-seam fastballs (sinkers) and the slider that he’s been throwing Continue reading

2015 Baseball Season Underway in Reading: Finding the Groove and Walk-Off Wins

Reading Fab Five (l to r): Zach Eflin, Ben Lively, Jesse Biddle, Tom Windle,

Reading Fab Five (l to r): Zach Eflin, Ben Lively, Jesse Biddle, Tom Windle, Aaron Nola (Source: Reading Eagle)

Jesse Biddle’s first 2015 home start was last night (Saturday) in front of a Reading crowd of about 7,000, with a slight breeze and game time temperature in the 70s. It was deemed the match-up of the night by many minor league prognosticators around the country. Biddle was going head-to-head with the Richmond Flying Squirrels’ Kyle Crick, the San Francisco Giants’ #1 prospect. Crick has electric stuff. Continue reading

Second Post for Spring Training 2015: Biddle Sharp But Still Optioned

Day 8 Bullpen. Throwing to Andrew Knapp.

Day 8 Bullpen. Throwing to Andrew Knapp.

Jesse Biddle has had a great spring training this year. His game was honed and razor sharp fairly quickly and he reported having quality bullpen sessions from the start. As the photo above shows, by the end of Week 2 the Phillies pitching brain trust was paying close attention to his side work. He got a fair amount of support with positive statements to the press by Ryne Sandburg, Bob McClure, Dan Plesac, and others. Continue reading

First Report from Spring Training: A Bit of Media Coverage for Those of Us Not in the Sun

Spring training 2015 is underway for the Philadelphia Phillies. Jesse Biddle has been working hard along with David Buchanan and Mario Hollands (and all their teammates). We’ve been getting inside reports on how things are going down in Clearwater. There’s a lot of positive, can-do Phillies going about their business down there. Watch the video below for a taste of that positive.

On the other hand, media and fan thinking is probably not as positive as it could be. Hopefully, folks will change their tune once the season gets underway. There are so many great young players to watch.

Besides Biddle, Buchanan, and Hollands, you’ve got Domonic Brown, Cody Asche, Maikel Franco, Cameron Rupp, Ben Revere, and a whole bullpen of young pitchers tutored by one of the greatest closers of the last generation — Jonathan Papelbon. Will Chase Utley’s knees hold up for 162 games? Is Ryan Howard, who came into camp super healthy, going to remind everyone why he was once the most feared hitter in the National League?

Ryan Howard

Ryan Howard (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Only time will tell. Just remember, Phillies fans, you’ve been asking for a team that’s younger. Young players take time to develop. They’re here, now. Watch them and cheer from them. You may be surprised.

And take it from us, they’re all champing at the bit to get going in 2015. Hopefully, you are too…

Spring training games start on Sunday. Phillies against University of Tampa. Buchanan and Hollands throw on Tuesday’s game against the Yankees. Jesse is on the mound next Saturday against the Blue Jays.

 

An Early Exit to a Tough Year: The Heart and the Knee

Warming up as always in far right field.

Warming up as always in far right field. Saturday night, August 16, 2014. Knee feeling fine.

Jesse was set to make his comeback in Reading on Saturday evening, August 16. After seven-weeks of rehab, it was likely we were going to see something interesting. Not only had he just proven to the Phillies that he is still all that and then some with two excellent performances in Clearwater during the 10 days prior, but the Fightin Phils were facing the Binghamton B-Mets with rehabbing pitching great, Daisuke Matsuzaka, on the mound. Yes, folks, the legendary, 34-year-old Japanese phenom, Dice-K facing off against little Jesse Biddle.

Jesse got his chance to show how hard he’d worked in July and the first part of August. But it was an inauspicious night for him, too. After warm-ups where he looked Continue reading