Qualls asks for trade after being designated for assignment

Chad Qualls had a 6.10 ERA in May after going 1-0 with a 3.24 ERA in the first month of the season. (Kathy Willens/AP Photo)

Phillies reliever Chad Qualls asked to be traded Thursday after the team informed him that he was being desginated for assignment.

Qualls, 33, signed a one-year, $1.15 million deal with the Phillies at the end of January and was being counted upon as a late-inning reliever. He leaves the team with a 1-1 record and 4.60 ERA after surrendering three runs on three hits in Wednesday night's 11-7 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates.

"I felt like I had been throwing the ball well all June," Qualls said. "I had only given up runs in two outings this June. No excuses for (Wednesday). I felt like I was throwing the ball better, but the organization felt like they wanted to make a move and that's fine."

Qualls, in fact, had allowed runs in just two of his 15 appearances this month. He still, however, had a 4.26 ERA in June and seven of his 15 outings were less than one inning because he has atrocious numbers against left-handed hitters. Lefties are hitting .377 with a .441 on-base percentage against him. Qualls had a 6.10 ERA in May after going 1-0 with a 3.24 ERA in the first month of the season.

Pitching coach Rich Dubee walked with Qualls into manager Charlie Manuel's office, where general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. was also in attendance.  

"I asked Ruben to trade me and that's basically what he's trying to do," Qualls said. "I think they have eight to 10 days to try to do that, so right now he just kind of said that I'm in baseball limbo. They wanted a little bit more consistency. Hopefully, the move is better for the team."

Amaro said he will try to trade Qualls, but to this point there has been no interest. The team can also designate the pitcher for assignment or release him in the next 10 days. Qualls can decline an assignment to the minor leagues, but he would forfeited his remaining salary for this season. A release seems like the most likely scenario at this point.

"We just thought it was the right thing to do," Amaro said. "There have been some inconsistincies with him and it's something we discussed a little bit over the last several weeks. His stuff is good. I just don't know if he has been effective as his stuff has shown."

Qualls' spot on the roster was filled by lefthander Jeremy Horst, who was called up from triple-A Lehigh Valley. Horst, a 26-year-old lefthander, was acquired in the offseason trade that sent infielder Wilson Valdez to the Cincinnati Reds. He pitched in 12 games with the Reds last season and posted a 2.93 ERA. He was 2-1 with a 2.11 ERA in 26 appearances with Lehigh Valley this season. He had walked 18 batters and struck out 32 in 38 1/3 innings.

"He's been pretty consistent," Amaro said. "He's been OK as far as the guys who are down there. He's thrown the ball pretty well."

Horst will be the sixth pitcher who opened the season at Lehigh Valley to spend time on the Phillies' roster this season, but Amaro admitted that the bullpen remains a major concern.

"I think it's an area we have to address," he said. "Right now, we have to give these guys an opportunity to try to grow. How much they can grow throughout the course of the season, I don't know. We have some talent there, but it's tough to put some of the kids in this position, because we're in a position to win and we want to win on a consistent basis. It's not an easy thing to do. It's a good challenge for them and in some ways it will help them develop a little bit. At the same time, it's an area that we lack consistency. It's something we'd like to address."

Earlier in the day, the Phillies had called up righthander Brian Sanches from Lehigh Valley to fill the roster spot created when lefthander Joe Savery was optioned to the Iron Pigs Wednesday night.