CINCINNATI - From the moment Ken Giles fired a 100-m.p.h. fastball in April at double-A Reading, the righthanded pitcher developed a cult following. Baseball tends to romanticize speed, and no Phillies arm in the last decade threw as hard as Giles does.
Giles, a soft-spoken 23-year-old from New Mexico, was quite aware of how fans placed him on a pedestal.
"It trickled down pretty fast," Giles said. "The first outing I had down there, it trickled down pretty fast. I've already heard it."
Giles, of course, is no savior. The Phillies, now without injured Mike Adams, lack a proven righthanded option as a bridge to closer Jonathan Papelbon. Justin De Fratus, who has tossed nine scoreless innings since being called up, will likely have the first crack at a setup role. Giles, though, could assume important situations if he can command his powerful arsenal. The last Phillies pitcher to regularly hit 100 m.p.h. was Billy Wagner in 2004-05.
The Phillies wanted Giles to see more experienced hitters at triple A before a promotion to the majors. His strikeouts dipped and walks increased in 11 games at Lehigh Valley, which served as a lesson.
"Just trying to be more selective with my pitches," Giles said. "They're a lot smarter than they were at double A, so I just had to kind of pitch a little bit better, keep them off my fastball, be a little more selective."
He struck out nine and walked eight with a 2.63 ERA at triple A. Giles said his mind sometimes wandered; he was so close to the majors. Is he prepared?
"I'm ready to go," Giles said. "No one is going to say no, right? I'm ready to go whenever they want me."
Lehigh Valley manager Dave Brundage pulled Giles into a meeting Saturday. They talked about his progress and adjustments. Then Brundage told his pitcher, "We're getting you a flight to Cincinnati."
"Did I get traded?" Giles asked. The promotion surprised him.
"I'm not perfect," Giles said. "I'm not a complete project yet, but I'm only going to get better with experience."
Cliff Lee accompanied the Phillies on this six-day road trip because he hoped to earn clearance to test his strained left elbow by playing catch. That never happened. Lee has not thrown for 21 straight days. He will need at least that much time to build arm strength once he is cleared. . . . Jimmy Rollins singled in the third against the Reds. He is five hits from breaking Mike Schmidt's franchise record. . . . The Phillies flipped Cole Hamels and Kyle Kendrick in the rotation. Hamels will stay on his fifth day and pitch Wednesday despite throwing 125 pitches in each of his last two starts. Kendrick will pitch Thursday. . . . Lefthander Cesar Jimenez cleared waivers and accepted an assignment to Lehigh Valley.