Shortly after the Phillies finished off a 6-2 win over the Yankees on Wednesday afternoon, a reporter asked manager Charlie Manuel thought of the scoreless inning that young lefthander Sergio Escalona threw.
"What did I think?" Manuel said. "I think he walked a couple people."
Reading through the lines, you might have envisioned a day like today was in the near future: With two weeks left in spring training and lefthander Antonio Bastardo looking more and more like a lock for the Opening Day roster, the Phillies optioned Escalona back to minor league camp, ending a spring in which they had hoped that he would compete for a job in the big league bullpen. Escalona, who was called up six different times last season, allowed five runs on eight hits in four innings of four appearances. Most troubling, he walked three and struck out just one.
Bastardo, who was on the Phillies active roster for all three rounds of the posteason last year, has allowed three runs on five hits in three innings, but has six strikeouts and no walks.
The decision to option Escalona leaves the Phillies with two healthy lefty relievers in camp: Bastardo, who has long been the favorite to occupy the final spot in the bullpen, and Mike Zagurski, who has struck out two and walked one in two scoreless innings thus far.
Placido Polanco is scheduled to take infield practice today. Assuming all goes well, the third baseman will play in a minor league game tomorrow at the Carpenter Complex. Polanco sprained his knee on Monday and had hoped to return tonight against the Orioles. But the Phillies see no reason to rush Polanco, who is 9-for-26 at the plate this spring, back into action.
Roy Halladay will start tomorrow against the Tigers, while Jamie Moyer will make his first Grapefruit League appearances on Sunday at home against the Orioles. To make room for Moyer, Cole Hamels will pitch in a minor league game on Sunday.
Here are the rest of the pitching probables for the forseeable future:
Sunday, March 21, vs. Orioles: Moyer, Hamels, Bastardo
Monday, March 22, vs. Yankees: Blanton, Baez, Madson, Herndon
Tuesday, March 23 vs. Rays: Happ, Durbin, Contreras
Wednesday, March 24 at Braves: Kendrick, Madson, Herndon, Bastardo
Thursday, March 25, vs. Astros: Halladay, Baez, Contreras
Friday, March 26, at Yankees: Hamels, Durbin Madson
Saturday, March 27 at Twins: Moyer, Blanton (minor league), Baez, Contreras, Herndon