Monday, April 21, 2014
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Manuel tight-lipped on roster, rotation

Even the most concrete answer that Charlie Manuel provided today isn't entirely clear.

Manuel tight-lipped on roster, rotation

The Phillies work out at Citizens Bank Park on Monday, Oct. 26. (David Maialetti / Staff Photographer)
The Phillies work out at Citizens Bank Park on Monday, Oct. 26. (David Maialetti / Staff Photographer)

Even the most concrete answer that Charlie Manuel provided today isn't entirely clear.

When asked about rookie lefthander Antonio Bastardo and his chances of making the World Series roster, Manuel started by saying, "He's on our roster." But it isn't clear if he meant that he is on the roster for the World Series, or just on the current active roster, which is the one that remains from the NLCS. Because just a few minutes before, Manuel said that he wasn't ready to name which players would make the roster, or how the Phillies planned on setting up their rotation.

So we'll start with Bastardo, whom I have floated as a possible exclusion from the World Series roster in order to make room for righthander Brett Myers, and we'll work backwards from there. Bastardo has faced just two batters in the postseason, retiring Jason Giambi in a big spot in the NLDS, and allowing a double to Andre Ethier in the seventh inning of Game 1 of the NLCS. But Manuel certainly talked like Bastard would be on the roster for the World Series.

"He's on our roster," Manuel said. "I'll use him. We'll definitely put him in the game. It's not like we don't want to use him but I don't know how long he can stay out there, because he is a young kid and he doesn't have experience and he is subject to make mistakes and his big need right now is to pitch and get confident and also get adjusted to the major leagues. He's definitely got the stuff to get people out. Like he came in against Giambi the other day and he threw a real good fastball and a couple real good sliders and he got him out. And basically when we put him in the game, that right there is what we'll look for too."

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If Bastardo is on the roster, then the only way for the Phillies to make room for Myers is to add a 12th pitcher, thereby subtracting either Eric Bruntlett or Miguel Cairo. Bruntlett was left off the NLDS roster, but participated in the NLCS. Cairo, a former Yankee who was on the team that blew a 3-0 ALCS lead to the Red Sox in 2004, has been on the roster for both rounds. He went 0-for-2 as a pinch-hitter in the NLCS, with Bruntlett being used as the go-to pinch-runner.

Might the Phillies go back to five bench players, given the fact that they likely won't need many pinch-hitters in four of the seven games, thanks to the DH?

A lot depends on how the Phillies feel Myers can contribute. He looked sharp in one inning of a simulated game yesterday, striking out Greg Dobbs and Ryan Howard on crisp breaking balls. General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. was complimentary of the way he progressed a few days ago, and Manuel echoed those sentiments yesterday. Myers impressed the team by returning from early-June hip surgery in time to contribute out of the bullpen in September. But he was sidelined by a lat strain and hasn't looked the same since. He allowed two walks and hit a batter in his one NLDS appearance, then was left off the roster for the NLCS.

Myers faced the Yankees in May, pitching eight strong innings in the Bronx.

"He's throwing the ball better," Manuel said. "He's definitely gotten better, as a matter of fact, it looks like he's probably well or close to being healed or well. We'll have a meeting today and we'll have a meeting in the morning and we'll make sure that we try to get our roster right. I'm not willing to sit here and tell you who is on our roster right yet, and who's going to pitch where. We've got an idea, but I don't want to reveal it yet."

And what about the rotation?

Cliff Lee will start in Game 1, but Manuel again declined to name a Game 2 starter. He said that he has meetings scheduled this afternoon and tomorrow morning, during which the Phillies will hash out their roster. They'll consider everything -- the fact that Martinez is undefeated in five starts at Citizens Bank Park with an ERA under 2, the fact that Martinez has faced the Yankees before in the playoffs at Yankee Stadium, the fact that Cole Hamels has struggled this postseason against left-handed hitters, who are 9-for-15 with three home runs off of him, not a good sign with the way the ball carries over the right field fence at the new Yankee Stadium.

As far as Martinez is concerned, Manuel said he does not think it matters where the veteran righthander pitches.

"We try to weigh everything possible in," Manuel said. "I guess that's a good part about my job, I've got quite a few people around that we discuss everything about the game. We discuss everything you are supposed to cover. There's not a whole lot there that we are going to miss as far as what we want to do. But I look at Pedro, Pedro's been in the big environment. He's pitched just about everywhere you can pitch, and I don't think nothing's going to bother him or get him upset. I think we can pitch him in either ballpark, really. I don't think it matters at all."

Might lefty J.A. Happ, who has looked rusty as a situational reliever, get another start? Manuel did not rule it out, and said he think Happ is still stretched out enough to throw 90 to 100 pitches in a game. Will they change how they use Happ, since he has allowed four of the six batters he has faced as a reliever to reach base?

"He'll be a guy that we talk about today and tomorrow in our meetings and stuff and we'll decide what we are going to do with him," Manuel said. "Being left-handed and stuff like that, he could play a part in our bullpen, but he also could start. I think that bringing him in out of the bullpen sometimes, I think what happens is, I brought him in a couple times in situations in the game where he wasn't going to pitch as long. So I don't think he got to stay out there to see exactly what he can do. But at the same time, we're in a position where we're going to win games. J.A. Happ's going to pitch in the big leagues a long time. he's a good pitcher. he's going to be in a rotation on a regular basis in the major leagues, but at the same time, right now, we'll decide on what we are going to do with him and how we are going to use him. I think a short series, things like that, all of that determines, and also what kind of wagers in on our bullpen pitching."

^

One final note: Manuel said that Raul Ibanez would likely DH against left-handed starters, which would enable the Phillies to start the right-handed hitting Ben Francisco in left field. Manuel said he is undecided on how he will handle games against righties (as of right now, A.J. Burnett is the only righthander to start a game for the Yankees this postseason. See the previous post for a breakdown of that situation).

 

David Murphy Daily News Staff Writer
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