CLEARWATER, Fla. -- If the Phillies would have played on Sunday, Raul Ibanez said he wasn't going to appear in the game as a "precaution" with a bruised right elbow. Both he and manager Charlie Manuel expected Ibanez to be back for today's game, but Ibanez is not in the lineup.
He was wearing a sleeve on his right arm and holding a bat. He took batting practice in a cage under the tunnel at Bright House Field. Nothing much to worry about, only that Ibanez could use as many at-bats as possible right now. Manuel says his timing is off at the plate and that has caused a horrid spring batting average of .098 (4-for-41).
After today, the Phillies have five exhibition games remaining.
TWELVE MINOR LEAGUERS CUT
Veteran outfielder/first baseman Brad Wilkerson, who retired from baseball last season and was attempting a comeback this spring, was among minor-league cuts this morning.
Wilkerson came with the big-league team on a couple of Grapefruit League trips this spring looked slow. He also was carrying a few extra pounds.
Joe Bisenius, who pitched two innings for the Phillies in 2007 but struggled immensely in the majors last season, was also cut. So was left-handed pitcher Sean Grieve, a graduate of Germantown Academy.
The complete list: LHP Spencer Arroyo, RHP Freddy Ballestas, RHP Ryan Bergh, RHP Joe Bisenius, LHP Sean Grieve, RHP Rick Guttormson, RHP Jordan Meaker, RHP Todd Van Steensel, INF Jeremy Hamilton, OF Gus Milner, OF Arlon Quiroz and OF Brad Wilkerson
I'm still interested to see how the Lehigh Valley starting rotation shakes out. Figure there are two locks: Andrew Carpenter, Joe Savery. Ryan Vogelsong was OK in big-league camp and should be in there. Then there is Nate Bump, Brian Mazone, Jason Standridge and Brandon Duckworth.
A WORD ABOUT BULLPEN USAGE
When I wrote about Jose Contreras last week, I noted this:
But Contreras has pitched on back-to-back days just five times in his career. In Grapefruit League play, he has pitched with two days between outings. This week, he is scheduled to pitch in games every other day, and Manuel said yesterday that he wanted to see Contreras pitch on back-to-back days before the spring was over.
When pitching coach Rich Dubee posted the new pitching schedule for the rest of the exhibition games, Contreras was not listed to throw on back to back days. When asked about it, Dubee said Contreras isn't ready to pitch on consecutive days for the Phillies.
That will be something to watch early in the season when the Phillies operate with their makeshift bullpen sans Brad Lidge and J.C. Romero. Ryan Madson will be the closer and he put up astounding numbers on back-to-back days last season. (See an earlier post from the off-season.)
If Contreras won't go on back-to-back days and Jamie Moyer/Kyle Kendrick won't go on consecutive days out of the bullpen, that leaves some heavy lifting for Danys Baez, Chad Durbin and Antonio Bastardo in April. Maybe David Herndon sees some higher-leverage innings.