Phils pumped to face Yankees; rotation and roster notes

“Being lefthanded and stuff like that, he can play up in our bullpen,” said Phillies manager Charlie Manuel about pitcher J.A. Happ. (David Maialetti / Staff Photographer)

As promised, here are more detailed notes. Charlie Manuel is still ducking a lot of concrete  questions about the roster and rotation.  That’s probably because few decisions have been made, as team brass continues to meet and discuss.

As you know, Cliff Lee will face the Yankees’ CC Sabathia in Game 1 on Wednesday; everything beyond that remains unclear.  Pedro Martinez and Cole Hamels will likely start Games 2 and 3, with the order still unknown.

Manuel did say that he would have no problem using Martinez at Yankee Stadium. The 37-year-old righthander has pitched well at Citizens Bank Park this year, going 2-0, with a 1.88 earned run average.  In the regular season, he was 3-1, with a 5.66 earned run average on the road, before pitching seven scoreless innings at Dodger Stadium in Game 2 of the National League Championship Series.
Pitching for the Boston Red Sox, Martinez went 0-2, with a 5.93 earned run average in his past five playoff appearances versus the Yankee.

“Pedro has been in the big environment,” Manuel said.  “He has pitched everywhere you can pitch.  I don’t’ think anything is going to really bother him, or get him upset.  We can pitch him in either ballpark, really.  I don’t think it matters at all.”

Manuel said that Brett Myers was healthy enough to pitch in the World Series.  But the manager did not indicate whether Myers would be included on the roster.
“He’s throwing the ball better. He’s definitely gotten better.  He’s probably well to close to being healed or well.”

Manuel also said that he was comfortable keeping lefthander Antonio Bastardo on the roster, but would not overexpose the rookie.

“Right now, he’s on our roster,” Manuel said. “I’d use him.  We’ll definitely put him in the game.  It’s not like I don’t want to use him, but I don’t know how long he could stay out there, because he is a young kid, and he doesn’t have experience, and he is subject to make mistakes.  His big need right now is to pitch, and get confident and get adjusted to the major leagues.”

In other pen-related matters, without officially announcing it, Manuel appeared to indicate that he would continue to use lefthander J.A. Happ as a relieve during the World Series.

“Being lefthanded and stuff like that, he can play up in our bullpen,” Manuel said.

Manuel said that Raul Ibanez would likely be the designated hitter in Game 1 against CC Sabathia.
“He’ll DH some against a lefthanded pitcher,” Manuel said.  “Righthanders, I don’t know exactly what we’re going to do yet.”

The Phillies sound pumped about the opponent and location for this year’s World Series.  Here’s a sampling:

Jayson Werth: “There is a special mystique when you walk into Yankee Stadium, new or old. It’s the cathedral of baseball, and where everybody wanted to play as a kid. It’s Yankee Stadium. As far as that goes there might be something to that and a little bit of motivation.

Manuel was also looking forward to the challenge of playing against New York. “Playing the Yankees, and who their names are, and what they stand for, that’s enough to motivate you,” he said.  “I know when I walk into Yankee Stadium, the new ballpark now, it’s almost like the old stadium except the locker rooms are better, bigger and everything.  As far as the field goes…it’s still got that same feel to it. 

“It’s just got an atmosphere, an aura about it.  It is baseball, and you think about all the great players and great teams that they’ve had come through there.  I’m sure our players feel that same way.”

Hall-of-Famer Robin Roberts, whose “Whiz Kids” team lost to the Yankees in the 1950 World Series, has been watching intently, and also views this era as remarkable.

The 83-year-old Robin Roberts, whose team lost to the Yanks in 1950, is excited. “I really enjoy watching the games,” Roberts said. “It would be awful nice to see them win it again, not just because it’s the Yankees but because they are bordering on something really extraordinary.”

One more thing.  I’m hearing a lot of confidence from Phils fans about facing CC Sabathia, because your boys beat him last year in the playoffs.  Manuel provided an important reminder today that the CC of October, 2008 was not the CC of right now. The Phillies offense is good enough to beat up on just about any pitcher on the right day, but don’t think Sabathia will be a pushover.

Sabathia had pitched on short rest many times for the Brewers during the stretch run, and Manuel did not see that game as indicative that the Phils had solved the Cy Young Award-winning lefthander.

“At the end of last year, the day we beat him out here he threw a lot of change-ups,” Manuel said. “When’s really good, he pitches off his fastball.  At the end of last year I thought he was a little tired.”