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Saturday's Notebook--Getting back to normal

Saturday's Notebook--Getting back to normal
Apr. 18, 2009 (Morning Call delivered by Newstex ) --

The Phillies have had a lot of distractions so far --- some joyful, some sad.

There was the raising of the 2008?World Series banner and all the other hoopla that surrounds Opening Day. Then?the rings were handed out two days later. After a trip to?chilly Denver, they took a late flight from Colorado last Sunday and had to play a day game on Monday.

Then came the news of longtime broadcaster Harry Kalas passing away just hours before the Nationals opened their park for the 2009 season. That game was followed by back-to-back off days (one planned, one rainout) before playing Thursday night.

Friday was their first day back in town without Harry, and that surely created some stress. Then today, they spent time sitting in the stands during his memorial service. When the service wrapped up, the Phillies didn't take batting practice.

Things should get back to normal starting with Sunday's day game against the Padres, and that's exactly what they need.

"We gotta get in our everyday routine of playing, our preparation and start playing without distractions," manager Charlie Manuel said. "That's when we come together as a team. That's when we get consistent and that's when we play better. And Baseball needs to be our first priority. The things we've done so far, as far as starting this season, they have to be done and then of course Harry's passing has been a real sad thing for us. There's not a whole lot we could do about that. But as far as our team goes, we definitely need to put last year behind us, and we don't need anymore distractions. We need to get in a rhythm of playing every day. In order for us to win, that's what we have to do."

Manuel said the starting pitchers, who have struggled, will especially benefit from finally getting into a routine again. Coming into Saturday's game, every starter had an ERA over 5.50. Three of them were far worse---Joe Blanton (9.00), Chan Ho Park (10.38) and Cole Hamels (11.17).

"Our starting pitching for the first nine games hasn't been real good," Manuel said. "We gotta do better than that to win. They're definitely capable. They found that out over the last couple years. They know how good they are and how good they can pitch. I think it's just a matter of getting everybody going and getting in their routine and getting back to being a team and playing as a team."

What's new: Turkey Hill had tasting stations on Citizens Bank Way before the game so fans could sample its ice cream.

Of note: LHP Mike Zagurski, who had Tommy John surgery on April 3, 2008, began a rehab assignment with Clearwater on Friday.

Pre-game quote of the day: "It's OK to cry. It's OK to be sad. It's OK to show emotion," Phillies pitcher Jamie Moyer on the emotions he felt during Harry Kalas' pregame memorial.

Best of Charlie's chat: "Location is definitely one thing that's hurting us," Manuel said. "If you're gonna throw high changeups, there's a good chance you're going to give up some home runs. The changeups a tremendous pitch and everything like that and a lot of our pitchers throw them, but it's also a ball that you have to throw down in the strike zone. You cannot throw belt-high changeups and expect to get away with it."

Stat of the day: Brett Myers walked the bases loaded in the first inning, but managed to wiggle out of the mess unscathed.

Visiting team tidbits: At 8-3, the Padres are off to their best start since 1998. They went to the World Series that year.

Next game's pitching matchup: On Sunday afternoon, RHP Chan Ho Park (0-0, 10.38 ERA) vs. RHP Walter Silva (0-0,?6.52 ERA).?

On the horizon (next series): Following the Phils' four-game series with San Diego, they'll host the Milwaukee Brewers from April 21-23 in a rematch of last year's NLDS.



Newstex ID: AA-2402-34236466

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: April 19, 2009

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