For Phillies' sake, Mackanin tabbed manager for rest of season

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Phillies interim manager Pete Mackanin. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)

PETE MACKANIN will finish out the season as the Phillies interim manager, general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. announced Tuesday afternoon.

The managing vacancy was in a holding pattern after Ryne Sandberg's sudden departure on Friday. In Amaro's words, it left the front office "scrambling," and Mackanin was asked to hold down the job for the homestand until a final decision was reached.

Amaro met early Tuesday with current team president Pat Gillick and team president-in-waiting Andy MacPhail, and a final decision was reached.

"He has experience," Amaro said of Mackanin, who previously was an interim manager in Pittsburgh and Cincinnati. "The other possible candidates that were internal, we did give them some consideration. We just felt that Pete was the right demeanor and the right person. He's done it before and he's had some success in that area. We thought he was the right guy at this time. I think it's pretty clear - and Pete knows this - that it doesn't mean he is a candidate to take the job at the end of the year, by any consideration. I think we're going to have a clean slate when we make this discussion."

The Phillies do have two members of their coaching staff with managerial experience - Larry Bowa and Juan Samuel. It's possible that Samuel will be considered for the permanent job this fall - Samuel was an interim manager in Baltimore when MacPhail was the Orioles' president of baseball operations.

Mackanin, meanwhile, was happy to receive the news after four days on the job not knowing what would come by the end of the week. The Phillies' current homestand ends tomorrow.

"It's a good feeling," Mackanin said before Tuesday night's game against the Brewers. "I'm happy to know what my fate is until the end of the season and looking forward to doing some good work."

Since the Phillies still had a vacancy on the coaching staff - Mackanin moved from the third-base coaching box to manager, assistant hitting coach John Mizerock has assumed third-base coaching duties - Amaro also announced that Jorge Velandia has joined the staff.

"He's an assistant coach, for a lack of a better title," Mackanin said of Velandia. "He's here to help out with every aspect. Anything we feel is important where if Larry Bowa needs help with the infielders or Juan Samuel needs help with the outfielders or baserunning, whatever suits us we're going to ask him to help out. He's bilingual. He's got a great rapport with a lot of these young players and with some of the older players, as well."

Mackanin, 63, a Chicago native who spent nine seasons as an infielder in the big leagues, including parts of 1978 and 1979 with the Phillies, had a managerial record of 54-56 with the Pirates, Reds and Phillies entering last night.

"Pete is being a good soldier and he understands that," Amaro said. "He's taking on this responsibility because it is important for us."

Cold, hard pitch

Justin De Fratus does not pitch every day. It only feels that way.

De Fratus, who had pitched in 13 of the Phillies' 26 games this month entering last night, has thrown more pitches than any other reliever in baseball this season - and a good deal more at that. De Fratus' 765 pitches this season were 90 more than the next closest pitcher, Texas' Anthony Bass.

The Phillies' bullpen is home to four of the top 10 relievers in the NL in pitches thrown - Jeanmar Gomez (599 pitches), Luis Garcia (580 pitches) and Jake Diekman (574) - and second-year righthander Ken Giles isn't too far behind, 14th in the NL with 557.

Meanwhile, the pitcher with the richest contract for a reliever in baseball history, Jonathan Papelbon, has thrown 440 pitches this season. Entering Tuesday, 106 pitchers in baseball had thrown more pitches.

"I think our relief pitchers have pitched more than any other team in baseball, and that's because our starters haven't given us the innings we'd like to see them give us," Mackanin said. "That's just who we are right now. You make the best with what you have. You have to be careful that you're not overdoing guys. Some guys have thrown more than you'd like them to throw. It's a daily struggle to try and make sure you've got to the right thing."

Phillies starting pitchers have averaged less than 5 2/3 innings in 78 games entering the day.

Rotation equation

Chad Billingsley (0-2, 6.75) is set to return to the rotation Thursday for first time since May 15. Billingsley was on the DL for the second time this season, most recently with a right shoulder strain.

But with Billingsley back, who goes?

Barring a trade - both Cole Hamels and Aaron Harang could be traded before the end of the month's deadline - there would appear to be three candidates: Kevin Correia, Sean O'Sullivan and Adam Morgan.

In a season built on the foundation of rebuilding, seeing more of the Phillies' young players, it's difficult to see Morgan being sent down. Morgan, 25, allowed one run in 5 2/3 innings of his major league debut against St. Louis on June 21; his most recent start, Saturday, was washed out after two innings by rain.

Correia, a 34-year-old big-league journeyman, is 0-2 with a 3.60 ERA since joining the Phillies last month. O'Sullivan, 27, is 1-6 with a 5.76 ERA in 12 starts.


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