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Jesse Biddle living the dream with Phillies
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CLEARWATER, Fla. – Jesse Biddle was in the stands as a fan at Citizens Bank Park the night the Phillies won the World Series in 2008.

Now, the 22-year-old lefty is a prized pitching prospect in his first big-league camp with the club.

Don’t misunderstand. The Philadelphia native and Germantown Friends grad is still a Phillies fan.

But he has to check his fandom at the door and concentrate on being a professional baseball player when he arrives at work.

That was a bit of a challenge Tuesday.

During morning bunt-defense drills, Biddle looked around and found himself surrounded by Ryan Howard at first base, Chase Utley at second and Jimmy Rollins at shortstop. He cheered for those guys the night they won the World Series in 2008, two years before the Phillies selected Biddle in the first round of the draft.

“It’s a little surreal,” Biddle admitted Tuesday. “But at the same time, I’m here to work.”

Biddle threw live batting practice to hitters Tuesday. One of the hitters he faced was another Phillie from his youth, Bobby Abreu.

Biddle found himself fighting to separate his inner fan from his responsibility as a pro athlete.

“My first four pitches to him were high and outside, probably because I wasn’t able to separate the two,” he said. “It’s not a dream anymore. It’s real life and I need to be able to do that.”

Manager Ryne Sandberg sensed that Biddle was a little overwhelmed by the moment.

“Breathe,” a laughing Sandberg told Biddle as the youngster walked off the mound after pitching batting practice. “You did a great job.”