Monday, September 22, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Who's first? Madson?

Imagine what it will feel like tonight in the Phillies' bullpen.

Who's first? Madson?

They'll all head out to rightfield, right from the start tonight -- coaches Mick Billmeyer and Roly DeArmas, all of the pitchers, all of them. They will troop out to the Phillies' bullpen at Citizens Bank Park, to huge cheers. You wonder if they will know.

It is likely, barring a nine-run explosion when the Phillies come out to play the bottom of the sixth inning in the craziest World Series circumstances of all time (non-earthquake division), that Phils manager Charlie Manuel already knows how he is going to play this thing. Because he will be pinch-hitting for Cole Hamels to start this mini-game, and he will need to go to the bullpen. But who?

You wonder if he will clue them in before the game. You wonder if he will tap Ryan Madson on the shoulder, say, and tell him that he's the one. That's the way I would go. Manuel has the ability to lefty-righty this thing to death, if he chooses, but I wouldn't. I'd go with Madson for as many outs as he can get, followed by J.C. Romero and then Brad Lidge in the ninth. You can argue it either way -- there isn't any right answer. It is a flexible bullpen with a lot of trustworthy parts. You could just as easily go with Scott Eyre for a batter (Rays catcher Dioner Navarro, the leadoff hitter and a switch-hitter, doesn't hit as well against lefties), Chad Durbin for two, somebody else for the pinch-hitter, and on and on.

However Manuel decides, though, I don't think I would tell any of them ahead of time.

They love to preserve their routines. You wonder if it's possible, given these bizarre circumstances. Everybody knows the game is headed to the bullpen, and they've had to sleep on this for two nights (as have the Rays' pitchers). They know they will be the focal point, for as long as this thing goes. It isn't natural to begin with the end. It isn't the routine. But it is the reality.

Still, I wouldn't tell them ahead of time. I'd make them all go out there, all in the dark. I'd get them out there, and then I would let the bottom of the sixth get started, and then I would tell pitching coach Rich Dubee to pick up the phone and deliver the message to Billmeyer on the other end -- at which point it would all go as it has all season for the National League's best bullpen: Billmeyer picks up the phone, listens, hangs up and tells one or two guys to get up and get ready. 

Rich Hofmann Daily News Sports Columnist
About this blog
Rich Hofmann arrived at the Daily News in 1980 for a job whose status was officially designated as "full-time, temporary." A senior at Penn at the time, he was hired to fill in on the copy desk during a staff illness. The notion of him covering the Eagles or being a columnist did not exist in anyone's imagination. It was supposed to be six weeks and out, but he never left. It is only one of the reasons why so many people have concerns about him as a potential house guest. Rich has blogged the postseasons of the Flyers and Eagles. E-mail Rich at hofmanr@phillynews.com Reach Rich at hofmanr@phillynews.com.

Rich Hofmann Daily News Sports Columnist
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