Phillies Notes: Franco's 'not really ready,' Amaro says

When the Phillies placed third baseman Cody Asche on the disabled list Sunday, Ruben Amaro Jr. spoke of top prospect Maikel Franco as a "possibility" to ascend to the majors. Two days later, the general manager was less convinced.

"He's just not playing good enough baseball yet," Amaro said. "He's not really ready to be a big leaguer yet."

So, Ryne Sandberg started Cesar Hernandez at third Tuesday for the fifth straight game. Hernandez was 0 for 12 in his first four starts there. It appears the Phillies could use a combination of Hernandez and Reid Brignac at third until Asche is ready to return from a left-hamstring strain.

Asche is eligible to be activated June 7. The Phillies will play 10 more games by then; there are no days off.

Franco played Monday for triple-A Lehigh Valley after a two-game absence because of an illness. Amaro said he "played like he was sick." He was in the lineup again Tuesday.

The 21-year-old Dominican has an .849 OPS in May, with 12 walks and 11 strikeouts. That atoned for a slow start in April. He was batting .231 entering Tuesday's game.

If Franco was playing well, the Phillies would not hesitate to promote him for a brief period. Sandberg said he wanted to see a confident player in the minors before any decision is made. The manager believes Franco is a better defender at third than Asche.

Still, more seasoning is required in the Phillies' eyes.

"There's no reason to bring a guy up who's not swinging the bat very well," Amaro said.


Gonzalez hurting

Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, the Phillies' $12 million acquisition from Cuba, complained of a "dead arm" Sunday, just three starts into his official rehab assignment at single-A Clearwater. That prompted the Phillies to fly him to Philadelphia for an examination.

The righthander, on the 60-day disabled list with shoulder soreness, will be seen by Phillies head physician Michael Ciccotti. Gonzalez, 27, allowed seven runs in 91/3 innings for Clearwater, with nine walks and three strikeouts.

Amaro said last summer that Gonzalez could slot into the Phillies rotation this season. Now, the team is just trying to keep him healthy in the minors.

"Hopefully, it's nothing serious," Amaro said.

Gonzalez, who will turn 28 in September, lasted two innings Sunday before being removed. Amaro said the team altered his mechanics in spring training.

Before his signing, Gonzalez had not pitched for two years after being suspended for trying to defect.


Extra bases

Baseball commissioner Bud Selig will attend Wednesday night's game at Citizens Bank Park as a part of his farewell tour. Selig is in town to receive the Wistar Institute President's Award for advocacy in cancer education and research. . . . Lefthanded prospect Jesse Biddle missed his start Sunday after being struck by an ice pellet during a hailstorm last week in Reading, the team said. The Phillies expect him to pitch this week.