Monday, November 30, 2015

Rollins back; Utley out; Ruiz back; Happ throws

So seldom does Charlie Manuel alter his lineup that its daily posting is typically as ho-hum as an Andy Reid interview.

Rollins back; Utley out; Ruiz back; Happ throws


So seldom does Charlie Manuel alter his lineup that its daily posting is typically as ho-hum as an Andy Reid interview.
But the one hung on the Phillies’ clubhouse wall at about 3:45 Monday afternoon contained more mysteries than CBS’ prime-time lineup.
Why wasn’t Chase Utley’s name in there against a soft-tossing Pirates righthander?
Jimmy Rollins was back, so why was Shane Victorino in the leadoff spot?
Carlos Ruiz was back, but would his knee permit him to catch every day?
Would Wilson Valdez, absent from the card’s listed reserves because he’d been designated for assignment, ever surface again in a Phillies uniform?
The fog lifted a little when a half-hour later Manuel met with reporters in the home team’s dugout.
Utley, it turned out, was home with what club officials described only as “flu-like symptoms”.
“He’s been feeling pretty rough the last couple days,” Manuel said about his all-star second-baseman. “He didn’t say too much about it.”
That absence led Manuel to insert Rollins into the No.3 hole instead of his more-accustomed leadoff spot?
According to the manager, that was done to (A) “try to finds some balance in our lineup” and (B) because a leadoff hitter is more likely to run and Manuel didn’t want to test Rollins’ rehabbed right calf too soon.
“I don’t know how strong it is,” Manuel said.
Ruiz, who sat out the sweep in Milwaukee with a right knee sprain, was back in his familiar No. 8 spot. As for how often he’ll play in the coming days, Manuel said he’d see how the catcher’s knee responded day to day.
Valdez, whose defense helped save Sunday’s night’s win and whose presence helped ease the lengthy loss of Rollins, was designated to clear roster room.
The Phils now have 10 days to trade, release or place him on waivers. If he were to clear waivers, he could be sent back to Lehigh Valley.
The infielder had become a favorite of Manuel’s.
“That’s tough,” the manager said of the roster move. “He did good. … He’s got some ability. I don’t know if we’ll lose him or not. That’s a chance you take.”
HAPP’S BABY STEP: Pitcher J.A. Happ, disabled after a painful bullpen session on April 22, threw 20 fastballs without pain before Monday’s fame.
But don’t look for the lefthander, whose DL stint official began on April 16, to return to the rotation anytime soon.
“It was much better than the last time,” said pitching coach Rich Dubee of Happ’s bullpen work. “We’ll see how he responds in the next couple of days and if everything goes well, we’ll try to get him on a mound in three or four days.”
Dubee refused to speculate on when Happ might be ready to rejoin his staff.
WEARY BULLPEN: Manuel and Dubee indicated that Jose Contreras, whom the manager insists is his closer in the absence of Brad Lidge and Ryan Madson, would probably be unavailable against the Pirates Monday.
Contreras, the longtime starter who has held opponents scoreless in 14 of 15 2010 appearances, pitched Friday and Saturday in Milwaukee and was warming up when J.C. Romero saved Sunday’s victory.
“He’s been great,” said Dubee. “I think he needs a few more tests under fire but he’s done great so far.”
Manuel said he might also rest his other busy Cuban reliever, Danys Baez.
“We’re starting to put a load on them,” Manuel said of Contreras and Baez, who missed all of 2008 after elbow surgery. “Sooner or later we’re going to have to back off them.”
EXTRA: Entering Monday night’s game, the Phils were 11-3 in May and, in that month, led the NL in average (.305), hits (149), homers (22), extra-base hits (62) and slugging percentage (.535). The Phillies were 17-11 last May. … The Pirates make their last Philadelphia appearance Tuesday night when Zach Duke (2-4) opposes Roy Halladay (6-1).
Contact staff writer Frank Fitzpatrick at 215-854-5068 or

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