CLEARWATER, Fla. - Although it is looking more and more as if Chris Coste will once again enter the season as the Phillies' backup catcher, the 36-year-old has more important things to worry about than a potential challenge from offseason acquisition Ronny Paulino.
Coste lives in Fargo, N.D., where residents are facing potentially record flooding as the snow and ice that have built up over an unusually cold and long winter melts. The Red River, which runs through the town, was projected to crest at 41 feet tomorrow afternoon, according to the National Weather Service.
Coste's wife and two daughters were planning to return to Fargo earlier this week, but have instead stayed behind to wait out any potential flooding. Both sides of his family have helped prepare his two-story house, which was built less than a year ago, by moving items out of his basement and onto higher ground.
Coste said he isn't too worried about losing his home, despite pictures from rural areas outside of Fargo where residents saw their homes submerged.
"Even if it's worse, I don't think it's a case like Katrina, where it was going up to the rooftops," Coste said. "If you saw the picture in the paper, that was a house that was way outside of Fargo near the river where it was just in a bad spot. Worse case is, the floods go up a little bit, and maybe your main floor, but most likely your basement will be in a little bit of trouble."
The bigger worry, Coste said, is losing power in potentially freezing temperatures.
"Even if you don't get flooded out on your rooftops - we've got a two-story house so it's really high - you've got a wife and two daughters," he said, "and if you lose your power and it's 30 degrees outside, it doesn't matter."
Coste, who is 2-for-18 this spring after missing time with a hamstring injury, did not play in yesterday's game with the Yankees. But the Phillies have all but settled on keeping him as their No. 2 catcher. Reports surfaced on Wednesday that the Phillies were open to trading Paulino. It is unclear where Paulino would fit in in the minor league system, where prospect Lou Marson is projected to start the season at Triple A Lehigh Valley.
The Phillies hope they have discovered a gem in the Dominican Republic. The organization has signed a 6-5, 190-pound outfielder named Domingo Santana, giving him a $330,000 bonus. The righthanded hitter is just 16 years old and does not turn 17 until August.
Zagurski to pitch
The long road back for Mike Zagurski will take an important step today as the 26-year-old lefthander takes the mound for his first competitive appearance in 19 months. Zagurski, who had hamstring surgery in August 2007 and Tommy John surgery last April, said he expects to throw about 20 to 25 pitches in a minor league game at the Carpenter Complex. His last competitive action came in 2007, when he appeared in 25 games for the Phillies, posting a 5.91 ERA in 21 1/3 innings.
Chase Utley hit his second home run of the spring in a 10-2 loss to the Yankees. Afterward, manager Charlie Manuel said he had no doubt both Utley (hip) and Pedro Feliz (back) will be ready for Opening Day . . . Longtime Phillies broadcaster Harry Kalas, who missed the first month of spring training while recovering from an unspecified surgery, turned 73 years old yesterday . . . Lefthander Cole Hamels, who is projected to make his first regular-season start on April 10 after a minor bout of elbow tightness this spring, threw 48 pitches in a bullpen session yesterday. *