Chase Can Swing the Bat

August 20, 2007

After taking two of three in three straight series, the Phillies stumbled yesterday when the Pirates, the highest-scoring team in the majors this month, plated seven runs after two outs in the seventh.

Today is a day off for the team.  Kyle Kendrick and Tom Gordon came in to work out briefly.  Chase Utley, given clearance to begin swinging the bat, continued his exercise program on his right hand.  Shane Victorino stopped in before heading for Lakewood and a rehab assignment tonight, weather permitting.  He was rained out yesterday.

Head athletic trainer Scott Sheridan and his two youngsters stopped by after lunch.  Scott was checking in with Chase.  Joe Swanhart, whose responsibility is providing food for the players, had done is grocery shopping.  Players have various light food options pre-game and a meal after games. 

Players normally begin filing in around 1:30-2 p.m.  Today, it was pretty quiet at that time. The clubhouse crew had unpacked all the equipment bags that came in late last night. The gray road uniforms were washed in the morning and hung to dry in the laundry room.

Plenty of activity is in store tomorrow as the Phillies open a tough 10-game homestand, three with the Dodgers and Padres and then four with the Mets. 

The Phillies will face three straight right-handers from the Dodgers which gives Charlie Manuel an opportunity to have Russell Branyan’s left-handed power bat in the lineup.  We’ll find out tomorrow afternoon. 

Charlie has a pile of statistics and scouting reports on his desk.  He sifts through the information and jots the lineup on a small yellow pad.  That piece of paper is given to Jimy Williams, who posts the lineup on the eraser board at the entrance of the clubhouse.  Jimy also completes the official lineup card that is given to the umpires.

A lot of buzz about Charlie leaving Kyle in the game.  At that point, Kyle had given up one run to the Pirates in 25.1 innings over four career games.  Matt Kata, a .210 hitter, got the big three-run double off Lohse.  “I thought Kyle had enough left to get him.  I liked him on Kata,” Charlie was quoted by Marcus Hayes in today’s Daily News.

J. C. Romero was brought in to face a lefty (Nate McLouth).  Up until that point, lefty batters had just 2 hits off Romero in their last 25 at bats.  McLouth hit a game-tying double. Antonio Alfonseca followed and this time he couldn’t close the barn door. In Antonio’s last 30 games, the Phillies are now 23-7.  Romero and Alfonseca proved they are human yesterday.

Tom Gordon and Brett Myers were primed to handle the eighth and ninth innings but it never got to that point.  Got to give the Pirates some credit.  They came from four down two straight days.   


Great news about Chase. The Phillies have hung on without him, but Utley on the field will give the team a huge boost.

This weekend was disappointing. No point in really dwelling on it, just move to the home stand ahead. Hopefully the pitching staff can rebound. The next ten games are big…

If the Phillies want to stay in contention, they’ll have to gather it together and win eight of the next ten games, that means even sending a 3-win or sweep message to the Mets. Especially the Mets. I think that the Mets are on the brink of either taking a tumble or breaking it open in the East. If they blast the Phillies in the next series, there will be no catching them; if the Phillies nail them, them they could be fragile enough to fall apart.
Branyan was a nice pick-up but relief pitching would have been nicer.

Good stuff with Chase. Utley and Victorino back in the lineup will give the Phillies a big lift.

This is a big homestand… 8-2/7-3 would be ideal. One game at a time though. In the stretch run, EVERY game is a playoff game.

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