The news around the Phillies camp today is that Mike Lieberthal will be out longer than expected. Liebs was eligible to come off the disabled list on Saturday, but will be out at least 10 more days, and possibly two weeks. Charlie Manuel suggests there is some final soreness in his foot that needs to heal so it shouldn’t pose any long term threat. This means that we’ll see more of the Fasano-Ruiz platoon behind the plate. Fasano is taking the lead as Liebterthal’s replacement since Carlos Ruiz has been off to a slow start offensively. Fasano was rewarded with a start last night, catching Lidle for the first time. He went 1-3 with two strikeouts and a single but was subsequently picked off first. For shame, Sal, for shame.
Behind the plate though, Fasano believes he has experienced much better plate management recently compared to the first few weeks of the season. He feels, "Once Gavin decided to go back to the two-seam [fastball], that opened up the game plan a bunch. And with Jon it was a matter of expanding the zone side-to-side, as opposed to up-and-down. Little by little, you learn these things." At the plate, as opposed to behind it, Fasano is the lesser of two evils. Although Sal is batting .245, Carlos is just 2-19 since being called up. Although Fasano admitted that the rookie has the potential to become and everyday catcher, he noted in general, "When you’re a defensive specialist and you don’t hit, there’s always a spot for you in Triple-A."
If you’re signed up to the official Phillies email list, yesterday you may have received a gracious email from Pat Gillick thanking fans for their support over the last homestand. The most interesting line though, may have come in what he didn’t write later on in the email. "I don’t want to put Cole Hamels on the spot by any means, but his presence in the rotation allowed us to move Ryan Madson back to the bullpen, giving us an even better staff. We should get a further boost when Randy Wolf returns sometime around the All-Star break." Notice "when Randy Wolf returns" not "when Randy Wolf returns to the rotation." There’s a lot of baseball to be played before Randy heals fully, but this could be an early indication that he will start in the bullpen.
I meant to post this Brewers preview by Timothy Miller yesterday but didn’t, my apologies. So here it is today, better late than never.
The Brewers lineup is filled with power that has not totally taken off yet. Carlos Lee is the hottest hitter on the team, already with fifteen homers while batting a solid .296. The son of Detroit Tigers legend Cecil Fielder, first baseman Prince Fielder is a candidate to be National League Rookie of the Year this season. Fielder is batting .321 with eight home runs, and even broke his father’s career steals mark (2). Prince has three stolen bases already this season. The highest average on the team belongs to
catcher Damian Miller who is batting .337 with four dingers. Leadoff hitter Rickie Weeks is turning his season around as he hit two home runs this past week (including one off of Pedro Martinez) and raised his average to .287.
Utility man Bill Hall – who scored the winning run in last night’s game – is also having a good start to the season, batting .292 with eight home runs. The power struggles are coming from the outfield. Geoff Jenkins is batting a rugged .260 with only five home runs, but he is due to heat up. Centerfielder Brady Clark has the lowest average in the everyday starting lineup at .224 with only one home run. Rounding out the infield is shortstop J.J. Hardy and third baseman Corey Koskie.
Pitching is where the Brew Crew have been struggling the most. They have only one starter in the rotation with an ERA under three. That belongs to ace Chris Capuano at 2.83 (now 2.80) whose record is 4-3. The other star in the rotation is Doug Davis who has an ERA over five and is 2-2. Dave Bush has been looking decent with an ERA barely over four, and a 3-4 record. Due to injuries, the Brewers do not have Ben Sheets or Tomo Ohka available for their rotation so youngsters Ben Hendrickson and Dana Eveland have taken their places. Hendrickson has not won a game this season and has an ERA over seven, while Eveland has an ERA over nine. The Phils will face those two Wednesday and Thursday respectively.
The bullpen has had trouble preventing runs as well. There are eight guys in the pen and only two of them have ERA’s under than three. One of them is near perfect closer Derrick Turnbow. Turnbow is 0-1 (now 1-1) with a 2.35 ERA (now 2.20) with twelve saves. Turnbow blew his first save of the season on Saturday by giving up a home run to Mets’ catcher Paul LoDuca. The lowest ERA on the team belongs to the former closer for the Brewers and Braves and now Turnbow’s setup man, Dan Kolb, who is 2-0 with a 1.64 ERA. There are two others pitchers under an ERA of 4, and those are Matt Wise (2-2) and Jose Capellan (0-0). Everyone else has an ERA over five: Jorge De La Rosa (2-0), Justin Lehr (1-1), Chris Demaria (0-1), and Jared Fernandez (0-0).