Sid Monge just wants to work, man
Around this time in 1983, players started showing up to Clearwater to get a jumpstart on getting ready for the new season. It’s not like it is today where players come into camp already possessing the chiseled bodies and twitchy muscles needed to get through a grueling major league season. Some players truly used the spring to work themselves into game shape.
Sid Monge arrived in Clearwater just looking for a job.
The Phillies were looking for relievers and had quite a few options to that were ahead of Monge in the pecking order.
There will be no glut of guys clinging to their careers with frayed fingernails. There is [Ron] Reed, [Ed] Farmer and [Porfi] Altamirano from the right side, fireballing newcomer Al Holland and Monge from the left. If Tug McGraw can come back, fine. He’ll probably have to knock a pretty good reliever off the club. 1
Monge had a solid season for the Phillies in 1982, compiling a 3.75 ERA across 72 innings in 47 games that season for the team after it looked as though he wouldn’t have a prayer of making the team. The Phillies would need a solid bullpen heading into 1983 and Monge looked like he’d play a big role in it. Alas, that would not come to be as you’ll see later on.
Bob Dernier also wants a chance
Also in Clearwater at this point was Bob Dernier, the 26 year old center fielder who the team was hoping would win a place in the starting lineup, both in center and atop the batting order. Looked at as someone who might replace Garry Maddox as the captain of the outfield, Dernier had a season of two halves in 1982. Prior to July beginning, Dernier played in 67 games, 61 of them starts mostly in right field, and hit a solid .277/.355/.347. He also stole 32 bases in 41 attempts, a more than acceptable ratio for the way the game was played that day. The thing is, as Bill Conlin put it, teams took a look at that slugging percentage and saw that there wasn’t much to it, challenging him to beat them.
He was blazing toward a Rookie of the Year award last season when the bottom dropped out. National League pitchers began knocking the bat from his hand and his confidence level seemed to drop faster than his batting average. 2
Indeed, Dernier would play in only 55 games from July 1982 onward, starting only 31 and hitting a paltry .195/.235/.266 with only 10 more steals the rest of the way. The steals were important since they were what constituted most of his value at the time. Heading into 1983, the team was looking for him to be more of a threat, starting to encourage him to bat from both sides of the plate in the season prior, something that thankfully never took. We’ll have to wait and see what kind of role Dernier plays in this season, but judging from the tone of his quotes, it doesn’t look like it’ll be an important one.
1 Conlin, Bill. (1983, Feb. 17) “Monge Looking For Work in Florida,” Philadelphia Daily News, p. 78.
2 Conlin, Bill. (1983, Feb. 18) “Dernier Seeks Some Speedy Improvement,” Philadelphia Daily News, p. 110.