The tone in Charlie Manuel's voice relayed a sense of urgency he seldom projects this early in a season. Now, the urgency must spawn action.
The optioning of Joe Savery opens up a spot on the active roster, which a team spokesman said would be filled after Thursday's off day. The logical choice is Triple-A prospect Jake Diekman, a 25-year-old lefty who impressed Rich Dubee so much during spring training that the pitching coach jokingly offered to become his agent. Heading into yesterday, Diekman had allowed one run with 22 strikeouts and three walks in 14 1/3 innings at Lehigh Valley. He has a mid-90's fastball and a serviceable slider that has improved steadily since he jumped onto the organizational radar last year. At the very least, he is worth a try-out.
Whether Diekman is ready, or whether he will ever be ready, is no longer a factor the Phillies have the luxury of considering. Last night, Manuel said that Chad Qualls was unavailable, despite the fact that the veteran sinker-baller had logged just one three-pitch outing over the previous four days. Antonio Bastardo was an unsurprising scratch after pitching on back-to-back days, but even when available he has looked nothing like the set-up man who dominated throughout last season.
At 14-18, with Chase Utley and Ryan Howard's return dates still TBD, the Phillies cannot afford to keep direct mailing victories to opponents. They have to hit, yes, and they have to catch. But a team built on pitching needs to hang onto the leads it is given. And right now, that means an active search for a pitcher who can do so.
Read more in tomorrow's Daily News.