The difference between Dontrelle Willis and Joe Savery’s lockers was only five feet this spring. But their neighborhoods were as different as downtown and suburbia.
The Willis zone was raucous. “Don’t they know who I am,” Willis screeched to his close pal, Juan Pierre. “I’m Dontrelle Willis.”
Savery sat quietly in his chair working on a crossword puzzle. The Phillies may or may not carry a second left-hander in the bullpen.
Willis was cut after posting a 16.87 ERA in three appearances. But Savery posted a respectable 1-1 record with a 3.48 ERA in seven games.
“I just want to do the best I can,” Savery said. “I’m just glad to be here but I would love to make the team.”
If Savery does (the Phils’ roster wasn’t finalized at press time), it would make for a fabulous story. The former star at Rice University, was the Phillies’ first round pick 2007.
However, Savery failed as a starter. After his velocity dropped in the 2010 season, the Phils tried the Rick Ankiel approach and turned their athletic pitcher into a hitter.
He had to go all the way back to Single-A in Clearwater to focus on playing first base. Savery hit .307 with 25 RBIs in 54 games. Thanks to a 23-inning game, Savery had the chance to pitch in relief and his arm was as good as his bat.
Savery advanced to Triple-A Lehigh where he continued to impress. He went 4-0 with a 1.80 ERA before he was called up in September.
“It was a roller coaster ride of a season,” Savery said.
That included pinch-hitting. Savery was Ryne Sandberg’s first bat off the bench.
“If we needed a pinch-hitter in the fourth or fifth inning, I went with Joe,” Sandberg said. “I was impressed with him as a hitter, as a pitcher and as a person. I believe this is a guy that has a future [in the big leagues].”