Catching Up This Offseason with…

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“Catching up this offseason” is a new weekly series by Director of PR/Media Relations Tommy Viola. Each week, follow Viola as he interviews former and current players who have called FirstEnergy Stadium home over the years.

The field is empty, the stadium seats are quiet, and the wind is brutal — but that hasn’t stopped Michael Spidale from frequently visiting FirstEnergy Stadium this offseason.

Spidale, who was originally a 12th round pick of the Chicago White Sox in the 2000 amateur draft, has worked hard for the R-Phils over the past three seasons – and has become a fan favorite in the process. A Chicago native, who now calls Reading home, Spidale has kept himself busy so far during the cold winter months.

I caught up with the amusing Spidale last week and we talked about his time playing in Reading, his love-hate affair with the Chicago Bears, and what he has been up to during the offseason.

The 27-year-old, who has yet to officially sign a contract for 2010, has spent most of his time back in the place he has called home for parts of the past three seasons – FirstEnergy Stadium.

“I am conducting batting lessons in the batting tunnel at the park (FirstEnergy Stadium) to help teach kids the fundamentals,” said Spidale, who has been a solid hitter for both the R-Phils and IronPigs during his time in the Phillies organization. “Kids of all ages are welcome, and the turnout so far has been great.”

While some players are taking time to relax from a grueling regular season, Spidale is giving back to the community and teaching kids the same kind of things he learned when he was their age.

“About a week or two after the season, I decided I wanted to get something going for kids — individual lessons, groups sessions, with instruction by me,” said Spidale. “It’s something I enjoy doing, it’s fun, I like working with kids.”

For more on my conversation with the hard-working Spidale, check out www.ReadingPhillies.com for a special podcast of my entire conversation.

If interested in hitting lessons with Michael Spidale at FirstEnergery Stadium, contact him at 610-670-2234.

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