Sounds like a broken record

Needless to say, there will be a lot of attention given to Kris Benson’s outing for the Triple-A Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs on Sunday afternoon. Though it’s unlikely that the outcome of the start will be much more than a warm up for Benson’s long rehabilitation, count on a bunch of the Phillies’ brass taking meticulous notes on every pitch.

As it turns out, it seems as if the team is looking for a starter.

At least that sounds like the case based on the quotes coming from Arlington, Texas after Opening Day starter Brett Myers tossed up another clunker on Friday night. Actually, the latest stinker might be the one that officially put the portly righty on notice. In just two innings Myers threw 66 pitches, gave up five hits, five runs, four walks and blew a four-run lead.

But wait, it gets worse…

In Myers’ last 12 starts the Phillies are 1-11, including losses in the last five straight. With a 3-9 record and 5.84 ERA, Myers has allowed fewer than four runs in just seven starts. He’s allowed less than three runs in just three starts, which isn’t bad when one considers that Myers is averaging just a little more than five innings per start.

Yet it was the two-inning clunker – one in which he walked three straight despite working with a four-run lead in the third inning – that finally made manager Charlie Manuel post an opening for Myers’ spot in the rotation.

“Can I say his job is secure?” Manuel told the scribes in Texas. “I don’t know what to say, if you want to know the truth. We’d have to find somebody to do his job first, I guess.”

In other words, if the Phillies had someone better Myers wouldn’t be going out there anymore. Really, how tough is it for a guy when he knows that the only reason the team continues to give him the ball is because they don’t have anyone else?

Myers must know what time it is based on how he reportedly busted it out of the ballpark without talking to the writers after the game. Typically a stand-up and an accountable guy when it comes to talking to the press about his job, Myers must figure that he doesn’t have anything new to say.

What else can he say?

What else can he do?

And what happens to Myers if the Phillies find someone better?

Here is the most telling quote from the manager as it appeared in The Inquirer:

“We’re trying to get him right,” Manuel said. “Myers’ best year is 14-9 as a starter [in 2003]. You stop and think about it, that’s not lighting it up. I mean, look, that’s not what you call a huge season. He’s had some bumps. He’s had moments on the mound where he’s had some struggles.

“Our expectation of Myers was always an 18-, 20-game winner. I said before the season started that in order for us to win, we needed 16 to 20 wins out of [Cole Hamels and Myers]. That’s kind of how we always evaluated him. His talent has always been there. Right now, things aren’t going too well for him. He’s having trouble.”

As a starter Myers had been very consistent in being inconsistent. In his four full seasons as a starter, Myers topped 200 innings once and never won more than 14 games.

Maybe he’s proving that he really belongs back in the bullpen.

***
If you missed the women’s 10,000 meters in the Olympic Trials last night, I bet you’re kicking yourself now. Described as a race that was at least four competitions in one, the Olympic qualifier had a virtuoso performance from Shalane Flanagan, a solid effort from Kara Goucher and drama galore when Amy Begley edged Katie McGregor for the last spot on the team.

But just barely.

Flanagan, the American record holder in the event, and Goucher ran away from the pack to finish in the first two spots, while Begley and McGregor dueled it out for the last spot for a trip to Beijing.

Only Begley and McGregor weren’t racing against each other – well, kind of, but not exactly. You see, to run in the Olympics an athlete needs to meet a qualifying standard of 31:45 for the 10K. If the top three runners don’t have the required time by the end of the trials race, the next best finisher with the standard makes the team.

So with Flanagan, Goucher and McGregor three of the four runners in the race with the qualifying standard met in a previous race, Begley spent most of the race one place ahead of McGregor watching the clock and running for her life. After the race she said she spent the last two laps doing math and running as fast as should could while holding out hope that she could squeeze in ahead of McGregor and under 31:45.

With a crazy sprint to the finish line and a last lap of 67.3, Begley made it under the standard by 1.4 seconds.

Then she collapsed on the track.

McGregor, conversely, finished in the worst spot possible for a trials race by coming in fourth. Worse, it was the second straight Olympic Trials in which she finished fourth in the 10,000 meters.

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