OK, that’s a doomsday scenario for the Phils, but one worth putting out there nonetheless. This was a bad night for the team despite their 9-4 win over Atlanta.
Why? Because the players just keep dropping, in ways that could bite the Phils in the playoffs. The news after the game on J.A. Happ and Carlos Ruiz did not sound terrible—Happ insisted he was fine and would make his next start, and x-rays showed no fracture (but a sprain) in Ruiz’s wrist—but the Phils would have a hard time if they lost either of these guys. Despite the post-game optimism, time will tell how Happ and Ruiz heal.
Charlie Manuel confirmed that Ruiz hurt himself while blocking the plate in the second inning. Atlanta’s Matt Diaz ran over Ruiz’s wrist, causing a sprain.
Why is this so alarming for the Phillies? Because of these names: Jason Jaramillo, Ronny Paulino, Chris Coste and Lou Marson. Those are all the catchers traded or let go by the Phils in the past year. When Ruben Amaro Jr. sent Marson to Cleveland in the Cliff Lee deal, he knew that the organizational catching depth had shrunk to a perilous level. But in that situation, you trade for Cliff Lee and hope Carlos Ruiz doesn’t sprain his wrist.
If Ruiz misses time, Paul Bako and Paul Hoover are the top two catchers on the organizational depth chart. Manuel said that he didn’t expect Ruiz to miss significant time, but wouldn’t really know much until tomorrow.
On to Happ. He swore he felt nothing tonight, but here’s the thing: While running to cover first in the third inning, he slowed and then grimaced, bringing the coaches and trainer onto the field. So we might be dealing with some wishful thinking there. But everyone said “precautionary” over and over, and Happ expects to make his next start.
And the Phils hope he does, because with Scott Eyre and J.C. Romero hurt, this staff is short on lefties who can relieve in the playoffs (both those guys will throw a bullpen session tomorrow, by the way).
Manuel was not happy with the baserunning of Ben Francisco, Ryan Howard and Jayson Werth. Francisco made the first out of the sixth when he was caught trying to steal third—a big no-no in baseball. Howard was nabbed at third trying to lead a double steal involving Werth.
“I thought they knew enough about baseball, if you want to know the truth, but that wasn’t a good play,” Manuel said. “The Big Piece can hit the ball, but he can’t steal third, and neither can San Francisco.”
As you can see, he was more funny-mad than angry-mad, but still didn’t like what he saw.