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Last by a Lot
They should have been better, maybe you could blame injuries, or maybe it was the manager’s fault. Lee Thomas fired Jim Fregosi after the last place 1996 finish and hired Detroit Tiger coach Terry Francona to manage the Phillies in 1997.
In 1996, the Phillies played .500 ball for the first two months of the season in spite of losing Darren Daulton and Greg Jefferies only a few days after the season started. Jeffries was out for two months after damaging both hands with a head first slide into third base. Within a week, Daulton knew he couldn’t play left field, or anywhere else because of bad knees.
In April, the Phillies hit six three-run home runs, in May, five, but trouble was brewing. Dykstra went down with rib and back problems; Sid Fernandez hurt his elbow; on June 2, Mike Grace, who was among the league leaders with a 7-2 record, left a game with a season-ending, “sharp, stabbing pain” in his pitching arm. Mickey Morandini went on the disabled list after a collision with Glen Murray, and the next day, Kevin Jordan’s season ended when he wrecked his knee chasing a pop fly on a divoted Coors Field in Colorado.
In June they collapsed under the weight of the injuries. In September they regrouped to again play .500 ball in spite of losing sparkling rookie third baseman, Scott Rolen, and .360-hitting Jim Eisenreich to broken bones. The September surge was led by veterans Kevin Stocker, Benito Santiago, and Curt Schilling, plus a collection of minor league call-ups, in particular Wendell Magee, Jr. who saved several games with spectacular outfield play.
Jim Bunning was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.By max blue