Lidge-Halladay reunion; Gload Reports; Vogelsong looks sharp

Phillies pitchers Roy Halladay (left) and Brad Lidge have a history that dates back to Little League. (Yong Kim / Staff Photographer)

We'll have much more on Roy Halladay in the paper tomorrow.

He met with the media today, and talked extensively about his desire to pitch in the postseason. Here's something I find interesting: Halladay's last championship game appearance came in his senior year at Arvada West High School, when he was beaten by a team from Cherry Creek High for the state title.

A member of that Cherry Creek team?

Brad Lidge, who did not pitch in the title game -- he picked up the victory in the semis -- but who remembers beating Halladay.

"We accomplished something not too many people were able to do," Lidge said.

Lidge and Halladay weren't close growing up, but they faced each other in Little League. And Lidge was well aware of the reputation of the future first round draft pick.

Lidge wasn't nearly established -- "I (stunk) until my senior year," he said -- and went on to pitch at Notre Dame before the Astros drafted him. Now, however, they are on the same team, and looking to capture a prize much bigger than the Colorado state title.


Ross Gload, the left-handed hitting first baseman/outfielder whom the team signed to their bench, appeared to be the lone new arrival. Gload, whom the Phillies regard as a talented defensive first baseman, took grounders at that position today. But manager Charlie Manuel indicated that he will likely get most of his at-bats in the outfield, where he can play either corner.

He seems like an ideal candidate to give Jayson Werth an occasional rest against right-handed pitching. Gload hit .271 with a .345 OBP and .777 OPS last year against righties, while going just 6-for-31 against lefties. All six of his home runs came off of righties. In fact, over the last three seasons, Gload has hit 16 home runs off of righties and zero off of lefties.

Gload hit an impressive .318 in 66 pinch-hit at-bats last season, with two home runs, 15 RBI, and 10 walks for an .872 OPS.

He started 38 games for the Marlins, hitting .235 with a .283 OBP in those situations.

Dobbs, who hit .284 with a .331 OBP and 19 home runs in 550 at-bats in his first two seasons with the Phillies, struggled last season, hitting .247 with a .296 OBP and five home runs in 154 at-bats. Dobs' 169 plate apperances were 71 fewer than he logged in 2008 and 189 fewer than he logged in 2007.

The biggest drop-off came as a pinch-hitter, a role in which he had thrived the past two seasons. Dobbs finished the year with just nine hits in 54 at-bats (.167). By comparison, he hit .309 with a .340 OBP and .829 OPS in 28 starts.

This, of course, begs the question: Assuming both Dobbs and Gload are healthy and on the roster on Opening Day, how will Manuel use them?

Gload has logged at least 250 plate appearances in each of the last three season, a trend in which he has hit .275 with 16 home runs and a .713 OPS.

"I’m not going to sit here and promise anybody at bats," Manuel said. "I never do that. But at the same time well try to get our guys on the bench as many at bats as possible because that’s what keeps them sharp     And a lot of times when a guy sits and doesn’t get to play his skills diminish offeneively and defensively especially when you become a three or four year bench player. We’ll try to get them all the playing time we can. You never know till the season starts. The season starts and things change. Guys get hurt. A lot of things happen. Sometime guys struggles. You never can say exactly how much a guy will play but I will say this: I’m not afraid to put those guys in there."


One guy who looked sharp in his bullpen session was righthander Ryan Vogelsong, signed by the Phillies to a minor league contract after three years in Japan. Vogelsong, who is 32 years old, played locally at Kutztown before the Giants selected him in the fifth round in 1998. His most successful big league season came in 2005, when he posted a 4.43 ERA in 44 appearances for the Pirates. But he left for Japan after struggling in 20 appearances the following season.

Vogelsong is a long-shot to make the roster out of spring camp -- Kyle Kendrick or Jamie Moyer will likely occupy the fifth spot in the rotation, and Antonio Bastardo and Sergio Escalona are the frontrunners for the final spot in the bullpen. Even if Brad Lidge and J.C. Romero aren't ready for Opening Day, the Phillies are unlikely to purchase the contract of a minor league free agent they like to fill the void, since they would have to expose him to waivers once Romero and Lidge return.

But Vogelsong could provide the Phillies with badly-needed Triple-A depth in both the rotation and the bullpen. Of course, one bullpen session does not make a spring training. But he's worth keeping your eye on.

"He's a nice little pitcher," said former Mets manager Bobby Valentine, who managed against Vogelsong in Japan and was in town as an ESPN analyst.

Manager Charlie Manuel said he was intrigued by Vogelsong.

"I've seen him pitch a little bit before he went to Japan," Manuel said. "He had a big arm. He's got good stuff. From what I saw here of him, he needed to improve his command. He pitched three years in Japan. That might help him, really. Because they work on your control and hitting spots and nibbling on the corners. Actually, I'm looking forward to seeing him pitch."

Last year, the Phillies called on Rodrigo Lopez to help fill in for the injured Brett Myers. They also had former big leaguer Gustavo Chacin in Triple-A. Vogelsong could give the Phillies valuable major league experience at Lehigh Valley this season, depending on what happens this spring.