When the Phillies take the field for the first time this year, Chooch won’t be behind the plate. The Big Piece won’t be in the heart of the lineup, either. It will be the second consecutive Opening Day without The Man, and the third in a row without J-Roll.
Instead, get excited about … Hellboy and The Scorpion, Phillies fans!
Yeah, these are your 2017 nicknames.
The Phillies roster is now officially devoid of players from the 2008 World Series team and the roster that reigned atop the NL East for several years afterward. As the players went, so did the household nicknames shouted in sports bars and living rooms across Philadelphia for the better portion of the last decade.
The 2017 Phillies roster is mostly unrecognizable to casual fans, who might have to spend much of the early part of the season learning who’s who. But there is always one to feel like you know someone you were just introduced to: By calling them a nickname.
Baseball has a long tradition of important nicknames. Lefty Grove’s name was Robert Moses Grove. Dizzy Dean’s real name was Jay. From The Babe to The Bull, from A-Rod to K-Rod and from the Big Unit to Big Papi, nicknames are a huge part of baseball history.
While this year’s list might not have the staying power of nicknames of Phillies past, there are options out there for current players. Varying from ridiculous to sensible, here is the state of Phillies nicknames entering the 2017 season:
Odubel Herrera, CF – Nickname: El Torito
If there’s one nickname to know going into 2017, it’s El Torito. Translation to english: The Little Bull. Herrera — the lone Phillies All-Star last season — has had this nickname his whole life. “My dad gave it to me when I was a little kid in Venezuela and it stuck,” he told Philly.com in 2015.
El Torito and his horns even have their own celebration.
Tommy Joseph, 1B – Nickname: The Scorpion
Nothing about Tommy Joseph says “The Scorpion” at first glance. But the origins of this nickname come from the player who used to man Joseph’s position. Ryan Howard issued the moniker due to a pregame routine.
“Before games [Howard and I] do a high-five and a little scorpion thing [raising our hands over our head],” Joseph told MLB.com last year. “Trust me, it caught me by surprise. Whatever they want to call me works. If he wants to roll with the Scorpion, let’s roll with it.”
Andres Blanco, INF – Nickname: Whitey
This is self-explanatory en Español.
Jeremy Hellickson, SP – Nickname: Hellboy
This nickname for the Phillies Opening Day starter dates back to his time in Tampa Bay. It was given to Hellickson by Rays’ fans when he first broke into the Majors. There was even a “Hey Hey Hellboy” Tumblr page. This all happened about seven years after Hellboy, the Guillermo del Toro movie about a darkness-fighting demon according to IMDB, was released.
Following the 2014 season, Hellickson was traded by Tampa Bay, and the nickname never followed him. At least not yet.
Andrew Knapp, C – Nickname: California Kid
Knapp told the Allentown Morning Call that this is what his teammates had been calling him in the minors last year. He is from Roseville, Calif. and went to Cal, but being from California is certainly not unique among baseball players.
Hopefully he picks off a lot of runners this season, so we can say they got caught Knapping.
Clay Buchholz, SP – Nickname: Flaco
This one is courtesy of future-Hall-of-Famer and professional-nickname-haver David Ortiz, Buchholz’s old Red Sox teammate. Flaco translates to “thin” in Spanish. Buchholz is listed at 6-foot-3, 190 pounds. Flaco indeed.
Maikel Franco, 3B – Nickname: Maik
OK, this one is borderline as a nickname. But it’s a better way to address the Phillies’ best power hitter. It also makes for a great hashtag.
Howie Kendrick, LF – Nickname: HK47
Kendrick is a newcomer to the Phillies this season after spending his first 11 seasons in LA (nine with the Angels, two with the Dodgers). Fans of both teams in Southern California used the HK47 label.
Kendrick is also wearing No. 47 with the Phillies, so it could follow him east.
Michael Saunders, OF – Nickname: The Condor
Another first-year Phillie has a much more intriguing nickname. Saunders was first called the Condor by Lee Tinsley, a former Mariners first base coach. Luckily for Saunders, it wasn’t because of what his face looked like.
We’ll see if the nickname takes flight in Philly.
Hector Neris, RP – Nickname: Happy Hector
Neris, the Phillies setup man, earned this nickname due to his smile and cheerful demeanor in the minors, according to a Philly.com article from earlier this year. With a 2.58 ERA and 102 strikeouts last year, Hector had a lot to be happy about in 2016.
Adam Morgan, P – Nickname: Mo
This lefty and University of Alabama product is rolling with a simple nickname.
One of the final spots on the Phillies Opening Day roster was filled in emotional fashion Thursday night when Brock Stassi was informed he made the cut. A 33rd-round pick in 2011, Stassi has a given name that rolls right off the tongue, but there is a nickname option has already emerged.
You won’t see most of the current crop show up on the back of a t-shirt jersey at Citizens Bank Park, but there is great opportunity for nicknames to be born in 2017. Perhaps second baseman Cesar Hernandez could turn into The Emperor or Little Cesar (he’s 5-10, 160 pounds).
The pitcher named Nola from Louisiana could be The Big Easy. If the Phillies shortstop has another impressive defensive season — and gets hardware for it — we could have Gold Glove Galvis, or 3G for short. Freddy Galvis: The face of slow cell phone connection!
Much like the franchise itself, 2017 should be a developing year for Phillies nicknames. Hopefully they’re both better in six months.