From the Bullpen: Matt Squires' On-Line Journal

Life in the minor leagues isn't glamorous and you don't get chartered flights to take you from city to city. In fact, sometimes, you don't even get buses that work. And, you find yourself in an under-staffed McDonald's at 2:00 a.m. News on a bad trip and answers to two reader's questions on this edition of <i>From The Bullpen</i>.

This past week reminded all of us just how rough life in the minors can be. We were in Akron for a three-game series and the first two games each went 3 1/2 hours. That makes for a bit of a late night, but that's not so bad. The real rough part came in the last game of the series. Some fans had obviously had a little too much to drink and really started getting on some of our players. Before long, the verbal taunts turned into fans throwing cups of beer at the players and spitting at us. I think a few of us were ready to climb into the stands, but finally, security arrived and got the fans out of the ballpark.

After the game, we got back on the bus for the long trip back to Reading. That's where the fun really started. The bus had a broken suspension and the ride was really bumpy. Of course, a couple times - three times actually - the bus completely broke down and we had to sit and wait until they could get it fixed well enough to go a few more miles. We finally got home around 6:30 in the morning. Luckily, we didn't have a day game on Friday. At the end of July, we have a ten-game road trip where we have to go to Harrisburg and then back to Akron and then come back to Harrisburg again. Let's hope the fans in Akron sober up until we return.

Oh yeah, on the way home, we were all kind of hungry. The good news is that we found a McDonald's that was open all night, so we pulled in. Here we are at 2:00 a.m. walking into a McD's and we find that there was just one guy running the whole place. That guy earned his money that night.

It seriously does make you think a little what it will be like if you're good enough to reach the majors. I think going through things like this in the minor leagues must make being a major leaguer that much better. It's all part of paying your dues.

I got a couple e-mails from fans this week, so let me address their questions.

Anne in Hazelton saw that I pitched on back-to-back nights recently and thought that was unusual, because I usually don't do that. Well, Anne, it basically is just because in the minors, there is more of a rotation for relievers to work on than they have in the majors. It is rare for me to work on back-to-back nights, but I have done it a few times before. Of course, you have to consider how many pitches I throw on a given night and how much the other guys in the bullpen have worked. It's a bit different ball game down in the minor leagues than it is in the majors, that's why fans may see some moves that don't seem to make sense at times. Believe me though, they know what they're doing in each situation. I do like to get my work in, so whenever I get to pitch, I'm happy about it.

Chuck, who is on the faculty at Lehigh University wanted to know about Ryan Howard. The question is why people don't think Ryan could become an outfielder. I have to tell you Chuck that having watched Ryan play, I think he can do just about anything. The guy is Superman and I don't put anything past him. Having said that, I don't think we will see him playing other positions and I'm not sure why that is. Obviously, there are a lot of people who know baseball better than I do running the Phillies organization and they don't seem to think that moving Ryan is a good idea. As a pitcher, I like having a guy like him at first base, because he's worked very hard to become a pretty good defensive first baseman and I feel very secure with him at first. When a throw goes to first, I'm confident that he's going to make the play and pitchers love that.

Thanks for the questions and I hope that I was able to answer them for you. Remember, that if you have questions, you can e-mail me and I'll try to answer them in an upcoming journal.

That's about it for now. I'll catch up with you again next week.

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