Hittin’ weather

image from fingerfood.typepad.com Crazy day at the old ballyard yesterday. So crazy that I had four different stories written during the game based on the outcome only to scrap them all when Raul Ibanez smacked his grand slam and when we learned Brad Lidge had an MRI, a cortisone shot AND was taking anti-inflammatory medication.

So yeah, crazy day at the ol' ballpark.

"Good ol' slugfest," Charlie Manuel said.

Charlie calls these early hot days "hittin' weather." He's certainly right about that considering the ball seems to travel a little bit longer when the winds are calm and the temperatures higher at Citizens Bank Park. Ibanez says he noticed the ball carrying well during batting practice earlier on Monday afternoon. But even Ibanez or Manuel would have had difficulty predicting the long shots belted by the Nationals and Phillies.

Not only did two shots clear the center field fence and strike the batter's eye (Ryan Zimmerman and Ryan Howard), but the Nats clubbed two upper deck shots – one to left by Zimmerman and one to right by Nick Johnson – and blasted one onto Ashburn Alley by Elijah Dukes.

Clearly the Nats gained more yards in the air than the Washington football team did all of last season.

Though the Phillies offense seems to be clicking after the two losses to the Brewers late last week and the first part of the Marlins games, Manuel is clearly concerned about the team's pitching. The staff's ERA is far and away the worst in the National League and only the Rangers and Yankees have a worse mark in the Majors.

"Looks to me like they are leaving pitches out over the good part of the plate," Manuel said when asked about his staff's troubles.

And by good he meant from a hitter's perspective.

At this point it seems as if the manager has little flexibility in regard to his staff. J.C. Romero is still serving his suspension (he has 32 games to go), Lidge might have a DL stint coming and the starters aren't giving the relievers too many breaks. So far the Phillies are fifth in the league for innings by relievers and 14th in innings pitched by starters.

Unlike with hitters, Manuel can't sit pitchers when they struggle. In fact, it might be the exact opposite – if a pitcher is struggling the manager might opt to get him more work.

You know, depending on the circumstance.

Surely the pitching will be a topic to rear its head again soon…

*
Not messing around…
Speaking of J.C. Romero, the suspended reliever is not messing around with his law suit against the makers of the supplement 6-OXO Extreme as well as the retailers that sell the product. How so? Consider that he has Howard Jacobs as one of his attorneys.

Yes, that Howard Jacobs.

For anyone who follows cycling, track or doping cases, Howard Jacobs is the go-to name in law. It seems as if he has represented everyone from Tyler Hamilton to Floyd Landis to Marian Jones. If there is one lawyer who knows about the ins and outs of doping tests and drugs in sports, it's Jacobs.

Better yet, Jacobs was a competitive triathlete so he understands all of the aspects of doping and athlete's rights.

The presence of Jacobs on Romero's legal team as well as thoughts from several attorneys weighing in on the case indicates that the pitcher has a strong case.

Still, one lawyer said if the supplement company advertised its product as something that complies with the MLB testing regimen, then yeah, Romero has a case. Otherwise, he might be losing even more cash.

Early September for the Mets?

alg_mets-paper-bagsAccording to reports, the battle for the fifth-starting position in the Phillies rotation has been pretty tight. That’s a good thing considering there really isn’t anything else going on at Camp WFC in Clearwater, Fla. this spring. Sure, John Mayberry Jr. is making a strong case to earn a spot on the 25-man roster, and the Phillies might need someone to replace Pedro Feliz and/or Chase Utley if the injuries aren’t healed come Opening Night.

But for the most part the only bit of intrigue comes from a bunch of guys hoping to get into about 32 games this season.

Veteran Chan Ho Park and lefty J.A. Happ are making strong cases to wrest the spot away from de facto leader Kyle Kendrick. In fact, no member of the trio vying for the only available opening in the starting rotation has allowed more than two runs all spring. Better yet, neither Park, Happ nor Kendrick has issued a walk all spring, while the lefty has eight strikeouts in eight innings pitched, while Park has five whiffs in seven innings pitched.

Kendrick has appeared in just one spring game so far, allowing a run and four hits in 2 2/3 innings.

Dark horse candidate Carlos Carrasco has pitched five innings in two outings,  but seems headed to Triple-A to start the season.

But while the battle for last starting spot for the Phillies’ rotation has been a veritable battle royale, it has been the same on the other side of Florida where the New York Mets train.

Like the Phillies, the Mets also have an open competition for one spot in the rotation. And like the Phillies, three pitchers – Livan Hernandez, Tim Redding and ex-Phillie Freddy Garcia – are fighting it out in Grapefruit League action.

But that’s where the comparison ends. On the Gulf Coast of Florida, the Phillies’ trio has been pitching well and will give manager Charlie Manuel a few sleepless nights trying to figure out who the man will be.

But on the Atlantic Coast, the Mets’ battle hasn’t been nearly as intense. According to a story in The New York Times, the notion that the Mets could go outside of camp and sign a free agent (Pedro Martinez?) to take that spot is fair for speculation.

Quite telling is that despite the fact that Garcia has an ERA well over 20 runs per nine innings, Redding has been the hardest hit thus far. In an exhibition against the University of Michigan, Redding allowed five hits and five runs, including back-to-back homers, before being pulled with one out in the third inning.

Just think how rough it would have been if he was facing Ohio State.

Now to make matters worse, ace lefty Johan Santana has dealt with a little arm trouble through the early part of the spring.

Man, it seems as if it’s September already for the Mets.

It’s still about the pitching… right?

Kyle KendrickRuns are easy to understand. Actually, scoring runs are the most important thing in baseball. Get more than the other team and you win. Yes, it’s so simple.

The thing about runs though is that they have a way of clouding up the memory banks. It actually might be one of those cases where one cannot see the forest save for the trees.

Or something like that.

The point is that beneath an avalanche of runs and, the nice little ancillary benefit called wins, has been some pretty decent pitching outings. In last night’s 7-4 victory over the Rockies, Kyle Kendrick turned in a career-high 7 1/3 innings, which ended up being the most important performance of the game. For one thing, Kendrick kept the Rockies from inching back into the game when the Phillies’ bats finished scoring for the evening.

For another, Kendrick gave the bullpen a break. After all, the relievers had to turn in five, solid innings to keep the Astros in check last Sunday when ace Cole Hamels turned in an atypical poor outing. As a result, the bats rewarded Chad Durbin and the gang with 15 runs and some not-so strenuous situations on Monday and Tuesday nights.

After the game Kendrick explained how pitching with such a big lead actually helped him last night. While the Phillies scored seven runs before they had even registered five outs, Kendrick said he could relax, settle in and go to work.

“That’s big,” Kendrick said about the early support. “When you take the mound, it’s your job to give your team a chance to win.”

More importantly to the guys behind him, Kendrick pitched quickly, threw strikes and got them back into the dugout reasonably quick. According to Jimmy Rollins, those traits are a sign of Kendrick’s maturity, which is saying something considering the young right-hander had all of 12 starts above Single-A before joining the Phillies last season.

“He got up there and he pounded the zone, and got ahead of hitters,” Rollins said about Kendrick. “He’s keeping us in the game. That’s all you ever ask of any starting pitcher. He’s starting to rediscover his confidence.”

Perhaps some of that comes from the tutelage of the sage-like, 45-year-old starter Jamie Moyer. Kendrick regularly chats with Moyer for advice and guidance on pitching and baseball, which makes a lot of sense. After all, Moyer was finishing up his first professional baseball season when Kendrick was born. Plus, there are very few situations that Moyer has not seen – or been directly involved in – during his 22-season Major League career.

So watching Moyer work through his seven-inning stint during the 20-5 victory over the Rockies on Monday might have been the perfect primer for Kendrick.

Though pitching with such a large lead is difficult for some pitchers because they claim they have difficulty directing their focus, Moyer kept the Rockies to just six hits and four runs with just one walk and seven whiffs while the offense piled on the runs.

But falling back to his old mantra of “Keep it simple, stupid,” Moyer says his focus was on keeping the Rockies from scoring as many runs as he was given. As long as the Rockies never matched his teammates, Moyer was satisfied.

“I was just trying to stay away from the crooked numbers,” Moyer said. “To me it’s just about winning, not the numbers.”

A good offense is certainly is a nice luxury to have. But then again, what good are scoring runs if there is no one to stop the other team?

Stay classy, Cole Hamels

For some reason today feels like a Friday…

Regardless of what day it is, the Phillies have four tough games this weekend against the San Diego Padres, who despite their 52-41 record (one game behind the Dodgers in second place in the NL West) could be the National League’s representative in the World Series.

Yes, the Padres are 52-41 even though they have just one regular player with a batting average over .260 and have a Major League-worst batting average (.242) and on-base percentage (.313) and are next-to-last in slugging. With Adrian Gonzalez, Mike Cameron, Marcus Giles and Khalil Greene as the Padres’ version of a Murders’ Row, it’s easy to see why they have the second-most strikeouts in the league – far more than the free-swinging Phillies.

Yet at the same time it’s easy to see why the Padres are a good pick to get through the National League.

Pitching, pitching and more pitching.

The Padres’ team ERA is 3.13 (2.63 from the bullpen), which leads the Majors by a lot. Better yet, the question isn’t who will win the Cy Young Award in the National League, it’s which Padre does one pick?

Is it Jake Peavy and his 2.30 ERA and 9.36 strikeouts per nine innings? Or is it Chris Young with his 1.97 ERA and 8.78 strikeouts per nine innings? Mix in 40somethings Greg Maddux and David Wells, both of whom are pitching pretty well, and it’s no wonder that the .242 batting average is getting it done.

But the most interesting pitcher on the Padres staff is fifth starter Justin Germano, who as most close followers of the Phillies remember was claimed off waivers by the Padres when the Phillies tried to sneak him back to Triple-A during spring training.

With a 6-3 record, 3.55 ERA and 16 walks in 12 starts have fit in nicely with San Diego. Not to mention the fact that the rookie right-hander went 4-0 with a 1.74 ERA in his first five starts.

For some reason he couldn’t make the Phillies this spring. Perhaps the Pat Gillick and the gang are having second thoughts now? What do you suppose the Phillies will be thinking on Sunday when J.D. Durbin goes to the mound against Peavy?

Better yet, do you think that Germano will be fired up for Friday night’s start? I’m going to go out on a limb and say… yeah probably.

***
As we determined the Phillies are spending the weekend in San Diego which is the hometown of tonight’s starting pitcher Cole Hamels. San Diego is also the adapted hometown of Ron Burgundy, Tony Gwynn, Tony Hawk and Floyd Landis, it has one of the lowest crime rates of all major U.S. cities, and it’s 70 degrees every stinking day of the year. Snow, ice and cold weather are concepts in San Diego, not reality, which means outdoor sports and activities rule.

So why haven’t we all packed up and moved to San Diego?

Good question. Then again, the average price of a home in San Diego is over $600,000… just think how much it would be if everyone moved there.

***
I have a theory that Philadelphia sports fans and French sports fans are uncannily similar. Mostly this is based on the idea that like the French, Philadelphia fans appreciate losers far more than the gifted or talented. To hear Philly folks tell it, the Phillies won the World Series in 1993 and they appreciate the fact that the team lost so dramatically.

The same goes for the French in that they haven’t seen a winner in the Tour de France since 1985, however, riders like Christophe Moreau, Richard Virenque, Laurent Jalabert, Luc Leblanc and Raymond Poulidor were always gallant in their many defeats.

Yes, French sports are like Philadelphia sports. That’s the theory. Since 1936 the French have had won winner of the French Open (Yannick Noah in 1983), but claim Tony Parker of the San Antonio Spurs and major title tennis player Mary Pierce.

Take away the French National soccer team’s World Cup title in 1998 – and defeat last year – and France faces a championship drought of Philadelphia proportions.

Hey, it’s a half-baked theory with not a lot of research put into it, but I’m sticking to it. After all, Philadelphia has more public art than any other city outside of Paris (or at least it used to… like I said, not much research has gone into this theory).

Anyway, the point is the French will go without a champion at the Tour de France again this year when Moreau was dropped from the peloton and lost considerable time – 3-minutes, 19 seconds – in the overall standings.

Meanwhile, David Zabriskie was eliminated from the race today because he finished more than 30 minutes behind Stage 11 winner Robbie Hunter. Zabriske is a time-trial specialist who held the Yellow Jersey for exactly 52 seconds during the Prologue this year, and held it through the first three stages of the 2005 Tour. This year, however, Zabriskie looked like a contender for the Lanterne Rouge, leading some (like me) to wonder, “What’s with Zabriskie?”

Apparently it was an achy knee that led to Z-Man’s rough showing.

“After the Galibier day I really struggled to try to get better,” Zabriskie said. “I was hoping these few flat days I could nurse it back to health, but the Tour is not the kind of race where you can fix yourself. Today was a really hard day and my knee couldn’t handle it. I came off when Astana finally did their rotation in the wind.”

As if that news wasn’t enough, Yellow Jersey holder Michael Rasmussen was kicked off the Danish national cycling team on Thursday because of an alleged disagreement over drug testing.

According to a story in VeloNews:

The director of the Danish Cycling Union (DCU) Jesper Worre told DR1 television station that Rasmussen had received a number of warnings over failing to inform doping authorities over his training whereabouts.

“We consider this case with great seriousness and the executive of the DCU decided that Michael will no longer be part of the national team and he was informed of this on June 26,” said Worre.

Rasmussen spends most of his time in Mexico where his wife his from and as the leader of the Tour de France is drug tested after every stage. But, you know, the DCU doesn’t want to have to refer to Google Earth to track down its soon to be ex-patriot.

In Stage 11… sprinters.

Stage 11 Final
1.) Robbie Hunter, Barloworld, South Africa
2.) Fabian Cancellara, CSC, Switzerland, same time
3.) Murilo Fischer, Liquigas, Brazil, s.t.
4.) Filippo Pozzato, Liquigas, Italy, s.t.
5.) Alessandro Ballan, Lampre, Italy, s.t.
6.) Paolo Bossoni, Lampre, Italy, s.t.
7.) Claudio Corioni, Lampre, Italy, s.t.
8.) Philippe Gilbert, Française des Jeux, Belgium, s.t.
9.) William Bonney, Credit Agricole, France, s.t.
10.) Kim Kirchen, T-Mobile, Luxembourg, s.t.

Overall
1.) Michael Rasmussen, Rabobank, Denmark, in 53:11:38
2.) Alejandro Valverde, Caisse d’Epargne, Spain, @ 2:35
3.) Iban Mayo, Saunier Duval, Spain, @ 2:39
4.) Cadel Evans, Predictor-Lotto, Australia, @ 2:41
5.) Alberto Contador, Discovery Channel, Spain, @ 3:08
6.) Carlos Sastre, CSC, Spain, @ 3:39
7.) Andreas Klöden, Astana, Germany, @ 3:50
8.) Levi Leipheimer, Discovery Channel, USA, @ 3:53

One more day of sprinters before the time trial and Pyrenees.

The numbers telling the story

I did my best to avoid watching the Phillies game last night for a couple of reasons. One was that I wanted to go to bed before midnight and if I got caught up in watching the baseball game chances are I would have ended up staying up all night. If there is one thing to be said about these Phillies it is that they are not sleep inducing.

Another reason why I chose only random glances at the ballgame from Dodger Stadium last night before heading off to bed was the fact that the “Godfather II” was on. No offense to the Phillies, their players, management and fans, but a large Italian-American family from New York has had more of an impact on American culture than the remaining baseball club from Philadelphia.

That’s just one man’s opinion, but I’m sticking with it. This type of thinking goes right along with my opinion that Jim Brown was right to retire from the Cleveland Browns so that he could make “The Dirty Dozen.” I’ve seen football games and I’ll venture to guess that I’ll see more of them before I through with my days on this spinning rock, but for my money “The Dirty Dozen” is better than the best football games.

Call me crazy.

But speaking of crazy, it didn’t take Bill James to crunch the numbers and put them all in a neat row on a spreadsheet to figure out what went wrong with the Phillies in the 10-3 loss to the Dodgers last night. Better yet, the antithesis of Bill James probably has a better grasp on what went wrong last night than the so-called master himself.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say it was the pitching. More in depth than that it was the pitching of veteran left-hander Jamie Moyer whose final line was a full sampling of the numbers from two through 10.

Take a gander:

5 1/3 IP
10 runs
10 earned runs
10 hits
2 strikeouts
4 walks
2 home runs

Yep, all of that on just 90 pitches, including a five-pitch fourth inning.

Normally Moyer’s outing would simply be chalked up to being “one of those nights,” except for the fact that “one of those nights” has been the norm and not the exception. Though Moyer, 44, has allowed 10 runs in just three starts of his 21-year Major League career, he has a 10.06 ERA with 27 hits, eight strikeouts, seven walks and four homers.

What makes Moyer’s poor showing most troublesome is that the Phillies have no one else to pick up the slack behind the veteran lefty. In the reports from Dodger Stadium Moyer came up with the bases loaded and two outs with a five-run deficit and manager Charlie Manuel couldn’t pinch-hit for him.

Said Manuel: “I thought about hitting for him there, but then I looked up and thought, ‘Where do we go with our bullpen?’ He had about 60 pitches at that point. I definitely was thinking about it, but we talked it out. I didn’t see where I could pinch-hit for him there.”

In other words, the manager still doesn’t trust the bullpen he’s been given. Frankly, who can blame him? But with Moyer struggling, Adam Eaton still searching for mediocrity, J.D. Durbin and his double-digit ERA holding down a spot in the rotation, with rookie Kyle Kendrick and the quietly struggling Cole Hamels filling out the rotation, Manuel’s troubles my go far beyond the bullpen.

***
This is about as deep as it gets for the numbers for me, because, frankly, baseball is about people not statistics…

In every game the Phillies have played since the All-Star Break the winning team has scored at least 10 runs. The Phillies have scored 28, while the opposition has 27.

***
The numbers are starting to come into clearer focus at the Tour de France following the tough Stage 9 that featured three tough climbs, including the daunting Col du Galibier. For one, Michael Rasmussen remained in the Yellow Jersey, while Tour rookie, Mauricio Soler of Colombia, won the toughest stage of this year’s race.

More telling is that it seems as if there are just a handful of riders remaining with a shot to win the race even though there are still 11 stages remaining, including two time trials, four flat stages and three days climbing in the Pyrenees.

It’s still anyone’s race. It just isn’t Alexandre Vinokourov’s race anymore.

Vinokourov, the pre-race favorite, battled to finish 20th in Stage 9 and dropped to 21st overall, more than eight minutes behind Rasmussen. After Tuesday’s stage Vinokourov (still wrapped and stitched up after the early-race wreck) tearfully recounted how he could not respond to the attacks up Telegraphe or Galibier.

But American Levi Leipheimer, in a post-race interview by CSN’s sister station Versus, said the race was still wide open and that even though he wasn’t sure where Vinokourov was in Tuesday’s climbs, knows that no one should sleep on the hard-noses Kazakh.

“Whether he’s really affected by the crash for the next couple of weeks, I couldn’t say for sure,” Leipheimer said. “But I wouldn’t make the mistake of forgetting about him.”

Stage 9 Final
1.) Juan Mauricio Soler, Barloworld, Colombia in 4:14:24
2.) Alejandro Valverde, Caisse d’Epargne, Spain, at :38
3.) Cadel Evans, Predictor-Lotto, Australia, same time
4.) Alberto Contador, Discovery Channel, Spain, @ :40
5.) Iban Mayo, Saunier Duval, Spain, @ :42
6.) Michael Rasmussen, Rabobank, Denmark, same time
7.) Levi Leipheimer, Discovery Channel, USA, s.t.
8.) Kim Kirchen, T-Mobile, Luxembourg, @ :46
9.) Andreas Klöden, Astana, Germany, same time
10.) Carlos Sastre, CSC, Spain, s.t.
11.) Christophe Moreau, AG2R, France, @ :54
12.) Mikel Astarloza, Euskaltel-Euskadi, Spain, same time
13.) Yaroslav Popovych, Discovery Channel, Ukraine, @1:33
14.) Juan José Cobo, Saunier Duval, Spain, at 1:36
15.) José Ivan Gutierrez, Caisse d’Epargne, Spain, at 1:49
16.) Oscar Pereiro, Caisse d’Epargne, Spain, at 3:24
17.) Chris Horner, Predictor-Lotto, USA, same time
18.) Andrey Kashechkin, Astana, Kazakhstan, s.t.
19.) Patrice Halgand, Credit Agricole, France s.t.
20.) Alexandre Vinokourov, Astana, Kazakhstan

Overall
1.) Michael Rasmussen, Rabobank, Denmark, in 43:52:48
2.) Alejandro Valverde, Caisse d’Epargne, Spain, at 2:35
3.) Iban Mayo, Saunier Duval, Spain, at 2:39
4.) Cadel Evans, Predictor-Lotto, Australia, at 2:41
5.) Alberto Contador, Discovery Channel, Spain, at 3:08
6.) Christophe Moreau, AG2R, France, at 3:18
7.) Carlos Sastre, Team CSC, Spain, at 3:39
8.) Andreas Klöden, Astana, Germany, at 3:50
9.) Levi Leipheimer, Discovery Channel, USA, at 3:53
10.) Kim Kirchen, T-Mobile, Luxembourg, at 5:06

There was an interesting story in today’s The New York Times about a pre-dawn raid by anti-doping inspectors on race leader Michael Rasmussen’s room. The crazy part about this wasn’t that the testing raid (I guess they really needed that blood and urine?) came just five hours before the toughest stage of the Tour de France, but that the raid was sanctioned by the UCI.

The UCI, of course, is the International Cycling Union, or the union that is supposed to represent the riders. But the UCI is hardly the MLBPA. Actually, it seems as if the UCI is more interested in selling out the bike riders it is supposed to represent.

Could anyone imagine the MLBPA staging drug-testing raids on players before a World Series game? How about the NFLPA doing the same thing the morning of the Super Bowl? What is most interesting about the testing of Rasmussen is that as the man with the Yellow Jersey, he is subject to drug tests following every stage.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – the UCI won’t be happy until it destroys its sport.

Is this what it takes?

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Meanwhile…

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Hi, remember me?

I’m finally back from a weekend of masochism (a.k.a. the Vermont City Marathon in Burlington, Vt. where the temperature reached 85 oppressive degrees under an unimpeded, sweltering sun) and a couple of days at the ballpark to get back into the grind of writing about a baseball team.

But before we get into the baseball stuff it’s important to welcome Miss Lucy Samantha St. Clair to the world after her birthday on May 25. From the sound of it, Lucy was rarin’ to go and surprised everyone by making her debut six weeks early. So far, Lucy’s mom and dad are doing really well, but we’re sure they’re going to be tired soon.

Tired old injuries…
Jon Lieber had an MRI yesterday to determine the extent of the damage caused to his injured groin. However, at the time we saw Lieber in the clubhouse he did not know the results of his exam, but that doesn’t really matter. Whether or not his groin muscle is torn doesn’t seem to change the period he will be out, which the Phillies are saying will be three weeks to a month.

Either way, Lieber’s absence will hurt the Phillies. Sure, he hasn’t been as good as in past seasons, but the big righthander is still an innings eater, who has pitched the team to the seventh inning in all but three of his 11 starts and one of those was lastMonday when he left the game early because of his injury.

Plus, Lieber won a lot of games last season because of his ability to keep himself (and the team) in games.

In his place the Phillies decided to call up Eude Brito from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre instead of activating Cole Hamels from the disabled list. Hamels, of course, is pitching in a rehab assignment for Single-A Lakewood tonight where he’ll throw between 75-80 pitches, so it makes the move to plunk Brito into the rotation for a turn or two look like general maintenance.

But that’s where it gets tricky. The Phillies very easily could have opted simply to activate Hamels to pitch Saturday in Lieber’s normal spot where he could throw his 75-80 pitches against Major Leaguers for a team in desperate need of pitching help, but instead decided to have the lefty phenom pitch tonight… The same day as Gavin Floyd — and his 6.62 ERA — take the mound against the Dodgers.

When Hamels is ready to pitch again it will be on the same day as Floyd.

Does this mean Floyd has been put on alert? Or that the improved Ryan Madson is a better option for the rotation now than Floyd? Maybe there is a trade brewing? After all, there were a whole bunch of scouts in the press box during the past two days. Some of that might have to do with the upcoming draft, but where there are scouts, there are a lot of people talking with conspiratorial voices.

Even manager Charlie Manuel’s comments about the situation are cryptic:

“I don’t want to put pressure on our young pitchers. I want them to be able to go out there and throw their game. I don’t want them to read into things. I don’t want them to go out there thinking ‘I’ve got to get this guy out or I’m going to the minors.’ I’ll surprise them one way or the other.

“I think when you’re pitching, somewhere along the line, unless you’re pitching outstanding, there’s going to be some heat put on you.”

Certainly the situation would be solved so much more easily if Randy Wolf were ready to go. Even though the All-Star lefty looked pretty sharp in his first game action (he whiffed five of the seven hitters he faced in two innings in an extended spring training game), he’s still at least a month or two away from joining the Phillies.

Interestingly, Wolf is pitching again in an extended spring training game on Saturday.

Etc.
Does anyone think former Phillie Jason Michaels went over to new teammate Scott Sauerbeck, showed him a copy of his mug shot from last summer’s little dust-up with the local police and said, “I understand, man… I’ve been there.”

Maybe not, huh?