Just when I think I have a handle on things ...
The Phillies today optioned Brett Myers to triple-A Lehigh Valley, where he could make three to four starts for the IronPigs. He will start tomorrow night against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in Allentown. I definitely thought they would skip Myers' turn in the rotation, but Charlie Manuel said the team asked Myers to accept the option -- because Myers has five-plus years of service time he could have rejected it -- around 5 p.m. yesterday. Myers accepted the assignment before noon today.
Cole Hamels will start Thursday against the Braves. It's unclear who will pitch Friday for the Phillies against the Mets at Citizens Bank Park. They could pitch Jamie Moyer on normal rest, or go with righthander Chad Durbin or a pitcher from the minor leagues.
Here is some of what Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee had to say:
How can this help him build back his confidence?
I thought his confidence was going to grow after the outing against LA. Of course, results are awfully important for your confidence. He gave up that home run and we ended up losing that game. Sometimes things don't work out and the other day he just didn't come out with a very good look about himself. So hopefully this gets him out of this environment, gets him down there where he can be stress free and just concentrate on making pitches and hopefully getting his arm strength back and getting his delivery back.
How drastic of a measure is this?
I don't know that it's drastic. I think it was needed. It's good that Brett is willing to do it. We just didn't feel that he was going to get straightened out here, being in this environment, pitching under a microscope all the time. And just all the stress that's going on with his game right now. We just felt it was something that he needed. And to his credit he accepted it.
Are you convinced it's psychological rather than physical?
Part of it I think is physical, delivery-wise. But a lot of it is psychological. Talking to Brett, he feels healthy. He feels like his arm is fine. I talked to him yesterday about it. He felt like there is no problem with his arm. That's all you can go off of. I don't get inside his shoulder or his elbow to examine the thing. A lot of is stress related. A lot of it is not having any confidence and any success.
Do you ultimately see him returning to the rotation, or could he come back and pitch out of the bullpen?
We're doing it for the purpose that he is going to come back and be the quality starter we think he's going to be. This guy in '05 and '06 put up some pretty good years. I think he pitched with a 3.50 and a 3.90 (ERA). We think this guy has got upside and the ability to be a big winner for us.
Can he get his fastball velocity back?
Whether he gets his fastball or not, it's about making pitches. There's a lot of guys that pitch 88 to 91 in this league and have success. Brandon Webb has a great sinker, but I don't see him throwing 93. Aaron Harang isn't a 93 to 95 guy. Velocity is one thing. Command is the issue. Command and repeatability.
Did you have to sell him on this demotion?
We don't look at it as a demotion for one thing. We look at it as an opportunity to get him straightened out. By no means is this a demotion, but hopefully this is an opportunity to get him right. As far as selling it to him, he was against it at first. But he took the topic back and thought about it and probably talked about it with a few other people ... I think he realized again that he's a big part of this club. He's a guy that we need pitching the right way. And I think he finally came to the conclusion that this was best for him as for his team.
How much do you worry about upsetting the bullpen if you would find his replacement there (i.e. Chad Durbin)?
We like our bullpen, and rightfully so we like our bullpen. It depends on the options we have.
How much risk is involved here? What happens if he goes there and continues to struggle? Couldn't that ruin his confidence even more?
I don't think so. I think confidence-wise he's probably as low as I've seen him. Even after I got here in '05 and he had some real tough years. I think he's going down there with the right mindset and he's going to get after it. We'll see him when we see him.