Money won't matter to Manuel, if he sits Eaton for a start

WASHINGTON - The money doesn't matter.

When Pat Burrell struggles, manager Charlie Manuel sits him, his $13 million salary be damned.

Ineffective Adam Eaton could miss Friday's start against Pirates.

Adam Eaton, the intended free-agent upgrade to the starting rotation, is struggling.

It sounds as if he'll sit, too, despite the 3-year, $24.5 million deal he signed and the $7.35 million he'll make this season, most of any healthy Phillies pitcher.

"That doesn't bother me," Manuel said.

No official decision has been made, but Manuel expected to discuss Eaton's immediate future with pitching coach Rich Dubee either last night or today. Eaton's turn to start is Friday in Pittsburgh, but he might be replaced by rookie J.D. Durbin at least once, if not twice, before the Phillies face the Mets at the end of the month.

"I take 'em out," Manuel said of how he handles slumping players. "Set 'em down. Give 'em 2, 3 days off, give 'em time to think about it. Relax. Then put 'em back in there."

Manuel stressed that Eaton has had success against the Mets, whom he has beaten twice in two starts and is 5-0 with a 1.89 earned run average in five career starts. Skipping Eaton twice would pit him against the Mets in Philadelphia on Aug. 28.

Of course, that would mean that Eaton would miss pitching against the Dodgers on Aug. 23, against whom he is 10-3 with a 2.37 ERA in 19 starts, but then, Durbin beat the Dodgers on July 17.

Eaton has a 9.74 ERA in six starts against the Pirates. So, come Friday, he might have a lot of time to think about his 6.36 ERA, worst among major league starters, and his one quality start in his last 10 outings - zero in his last seven.

Sitting Eaton might help. Manuel did not commit to pitching Eaton out of the bullpen; he seemed more inclined to just sit him, period.

"We're definitely, totally concerned about Adam," Manuel said. The question: "How do we get Adam going? What's the best way?"

Maybe the best way to get him going is to give him a paid vacation.

Utley on schedule

Chase Utley took ground balls at second base and, for the first time since suffering a fractured fourth metacarpal bone in the back of his right hand on July 26, he was allowed to lightly throw the ball to first and second base.

In 2 weeks, he hopes to be throwing and swinging in games.

Utley still won't be allowed to grip a bat for at least another 5 days, when he next sees Dr. Randy Culp, who, on Monday, cleared Utley to wear a cut-down version of the splint he has worn since Nationals pitcher John Lannan hit him with a pitch. Utley now can do strengthening exercises, as well as range-of-motion exercises.

"It looks good. They re-X-rayed it. They said it's healing outstanding. They put me in this device, so I can start throwing," Utley said. "They still want me to hold off on gripping a bat a little bit longer just to have it heal a little bit more."

Utley figures it will take about a week of swinging to give him a chance to recapture the MVP form that had him hitting .336 with 82 RBI.

"I'm assuming if it doesn't hurt too bad, then it won't affect much," Utley said. "Obviously, it might be a little awkward the first day or two, because I haven't swung a bat in a while. It might be a little awkward at first, but as long as it doesn't hurt, it should be OK."

Victorino update

Shane Victorino pulled himself out of his first rehab start at Double A Reading last night when he felt "something grab" in his strained right calf as he tried to beat out a ground ball in front of the plate, according to general manager Pat Gillick.

It was his third at-bat. He was 1-for-3 with an RBI as the designated hitter.

The Phillies hoped Victorino would return by Friday for the series in Pittsburgh. That assuredly won't happen.

As for any other timetable, "Now, we don't know," Gillick said.

In his second full season, Victorino, 26, is hitting .284 with 32 stolen bases in 35 attempts. He strained his calf in Chicago on July 30.


Sources indicated that the Phils expected to sign 12th-round pick Julian Sampson, a righthanded pitcher, by today's deadline, while they were not hopeful about third-round righthander Brandon Workman . . . Catcher Carlos Ruiz took both of third baseman Greg Dobbs' hands in his face when they collided in the seventh inning pursuing a foul ball. Ruiz suffered a neck stinger, but remained in the game. Afterward, he said he was fine and expected to be available tonight . . . Catcher Rod Barajas (right groin strain) yesterday caught with gear on for the first time since he hit the disabled list on Aug. 3, and exited without complication. *