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News » Philadelphia Phillies Notes, Quotes 2009-03-31

Philadelphia Phillies Notes, Quotes 2009-03-31

Philadelphia Phillies Notes, Quotes 2009-03-31
--LHP Cole Hamels will not make the Opening Day start, pitching coach Rich Dubee said. The announcement came March 30 after Hamels was hit hard in a four-inning outing against Yankees minor-leaguers. Hamels, slowed by a sore elbow earlier in the spring, will pitch a spring training game against Tampa Bay on April 4, and he could make his first regular-season start April 10 against the Rockies in Denver. Candidates for the Opening Day start against the Braves include RHP Brett Myers, whose turn would fall on April 5, and RHP Joe Blanton.

--2B Chase Utley's health was a major issue for the Phillies when spring training began. Not anymore. Utley, who underwent right hip surgery Nov. 24, has proven he's ready to start the season. Through March 27, he was batting .320 (8-for-25) in Grapefruit League games, and he recently homered in back-to-back games.

"The last three or four games, I haven't even thought about (the hip), to be honest with you," Utley said. "At first, I thought about it a little bit. But now, it's out of my mind completely. We're moving in the right direction. It's a positive that everything feels good to this point."

GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said he expects both Utley and 3B Pedro Feliz (Nov. 20 back surgery) to be ready for the season opener April 5 at Citizens Bank Park.

--RHP Kyle Kendrick had a fairy-tale start to his major league career, unexpectedly arriving from Class AA in 2007 and winning 21 games over the past two seasons. But, after falling behind in the competition for the Phillies' No. 5 starter job, he was optioned to minor league camp. Kendrick, who started Game 2 of the 2007 NL Division Series, will open 2009 at Class AAA Lehigh Valley.

"At first, I was upset," he said. "But I know what I need to do. I'll be back."

Mostly, he needs to develop secondary pitches to offset his signature sinker. Using almost entirely one pitch, Kendrick, 24, is 21-13 with a 4.78 ERA in 51 career appearances (50 starts). But last season, he lost his spot in the rotation by going 3-6 with a 7.39 ERA from July 11 through Sept. 9. Then, after being labeled last month by pitching coach Rich Dubee as the slight favorite to claim the No. 5 job, he went 1-3 with a 9.20 ERA in four Grapefruit League starts and was outpitched by RHP Chan Ho Park and LHP J.A. Happ.

"If he pitches to a 2.00 ERA in Triple-A and it's all predominantly sinkers, we still have the same Kyle Kendrick we have right now," Dubee said. "And that isn't good enough. We're looking for growth. When he gets back up here, we want to see a little different Kyle Kendrick. We want to see a three-pitch guy."

--C Ronny Paulino, acquired in a Dec. 10 trade with Pittsburgh, did little this spring to impress manager Charlie Manuel or wrestle the backup job from Chris Coste. Consequently, the Phillies dealt him to San Francisco for LHP Jack Taschner. Paulino, 27, was batting .194 (6-for-31) this spring.

"I see a guy that's real stiff," Manuel said. "In a game, he hits mostly everything to right field. He muscles the ball instead of freely hitting through the ball. He doesn't use his legs. The big boy has a lot of power, but at times, he's all a right field hitter, and that's because of his approach."

Hours after acquiring Paulino, the Giants dealt him to Florida for minor league RHP Hector Correa.

Taschner, 30, has spent the last four seasons in the Giants bullpen. He struggled this spring, allowing 12 walks and nine runs (six earned) in 8 2/3 innings. He joins Scott Eyre in giving the Phillies two left-handed relievers.

--LHP J.C. Romero, suspended for the first 50 games after testing positive for a banned substance, is awaiting word from Major League Baseball on whether he'll be allowed to attend the Phillies' season opener April 5 and the World Series ring ceremony three days later. "I'm hoping at least they give me that much and let me be there for the ceremony and to receive my ring," said Romero, who continues to contend that he unknowingly took an over-the-counter supplement that he was told wouldn't trigger a positive drug test. "I hope they realize this is a thing that might only come once in a lifetime."

--RHP Chad Durbin has been trying out a new pitch. Usually, Durbin throws a cutter on the inside corner to left-handed hitters. But after talking to closer Brad Lidge in the bullpen throughout last season, he's working on a slider designed to supplement the cutter and give hitters a different look. Durbin has been throwing the pitch in the bullpen but has used it sparingly in Grapefruit League games.

"(Lidge) grips it similar to the way I grip my cutter," Durbin said. "And his arm action is pretty similar to my arm action. I've thrown it in the bullpen and two in a game and buried both of them (for strikes). Obviously, I'll make a decision (about using it) before the games count."

BY THE NUMBERS: 23 -- Players on the Phillies' 25-man World Series roster who are returning to the team this season. LF Pat Burrell (Rays) and OF So Taguchi (minor league deal with the Cubs) are the only players who aren't back.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "When you're a bench player, you goddamn better think you're competing. Just as soon as you think you've got it made, somebody will come along and sniff you right off the bench. That happens all the time. Don't ever assume anything. We want hard-nosed, winning players. If you think you're going to short-cut us, some dumb guy like me will trip you up." -- Manager Charlie Manuel, on the competition for the final spots on the roster.

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: March 31, 2009

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