Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Chooch takes another day, other injury updates

Carlos Ruiz is out of the starting lineup for the third straight game with a mild right hamstring strain. Brian Schneider is catching in his place in Wednesday night's series finale against the Mets at Citi Field.

Ruiz did take part in some sprinting exercises before batting practice and said he felt a lot better than when he arrived to New York on Monday. Ruiz said the hamstring had been bothering him for a few days and became more of a problem when he ran from first to third on a single in the sixth inning in St. Louis on Sunday.

With Thursday's off day in the schedule, the Phils decided it made sense to be conservative in returning Ruiz back into regular action. He expects to play when the Phils return to Citizens Bank Park Friday against Miami.

"I’ve had two days, Charlie giving me today and then tomorrow, that will be good for me," Ruiz said. "I was running outside today and I feel better, I don’t want to say (100 percent), but close. I think today and tomorrow are going to be the difference I’ll see how I feel Friday."

Ruiz is available to pinch hit tonight, just as he was Tuesday night.

In other injury news...

-- Roy Halladay was checked out by Mets team doctor David Altchek Wednesday. Halladay simply wanted a second opinion on his right shoulder. The Phillies won't have an update on Halladay until Friday, when he is expected to talk to the media for the first time since landing on the DL.

-- Laynce Nix ran for the first time since landing on the DL on May 11 with a left calf strain. Nix caled it more of a "really light jog" and isn't close to returning or going on a rehab assignment.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Halladay placed on DL, out 6-to-8 weeks

Roy Halladay will but shut down for a minimum of three weeks and isn't expected to return to the Phillies rotation for six-to-eight weeks.

That's the reality of the medical exam and the ensuing roster move that sent the two-time Cy Young Award winner to the disabled list Tuesday.

Two days after leaving his start in St. Louis after two innings due to shoulder pain, Halladay was examined at the Rothman Institute at Thomas Jefferson Hospital. He was diagnosed with a Grade 1/Grade 2 right latissimus dorsi strain. 

While good news may be difficult to grasp when you lose a pitcher of Roy Halladay's caliber for what could be two months, there is no structural damage in the 35-year-old's shoulder and he will not need surgery.

"We hate to have him down, but it's nothing that requires anything other than rest," assistant general manager Scott Proefrock said.

The Phillies recalled catcher Erik Kratz to take Halladay's spot on the 25-man roster. Kratz will give the Phils some insurance as Carlos Ruiz battled back from a hamstring injury; Ruiz is out of the lineup tonight but is expected to be available to pinch hit and return to regular starting duty Wednesday.

The Phils could choose to give Ruiz an extra day though, since they're off Thursday.

Thursday's off day also gives the Phils a little flexibility: they can use four starters on regular rest through the next week. They won't need a fifth starter until Wednesday, June 6.

By that time, Vance Worley (elbow) could be ready to rejoin the rotation. Worley threw his first bullpen session since landing on the DL three weeks ago this afternoon at Citi Field.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Roy Halladay exits with shoulder injury

Just when the underachieving, injury-plagued Phillies appeared to be turning a corner, winning four in a row including three straight over the defending World Champion Cardinals, what may have been the most ominous cloud of the season swept into St. Louis.

Roy Halladay left his start Sunday after two innings. 

The Phillies said Halladay was removed as a precaution due to right shoulder soreness. the two-time Cy Young Award winner and ace of the team's starting-pitching rich staff will be re-evaluated in the next couple of days. No MRI is currently scheduled.

After his most recent start prior to Sunday, a a 5-2 defeat to Washington at Citizens Bank Park, Halladay was asked if he was healthy. He half-laughed and said, "Yeah" twice.

Halladay gave up five runs on nine hits in six innings that night.

Halladay's exit Sunday was curious because it came after throwing a 10-pitch, 1-2-3 second inning against the Cardinals. But his second inning was preceded by a first inning that was like at least a few of the games he's pitched this season: very un-Halladay-like.

Halladay gave up a two-out grand slam to Yadier Molina to fall into a 4-0 hole in the game's first inning. Before Molina's slam, the second slam Halladay has surrendered this season, Halladay issued a two-out walk to David Freese and back-to-back, one-out singles to Skip Schumaker and Matt Holliday.

Halladay has a 3.98 ERA in 11 games this season. He allowed four runs or more in three of his last six starts.

Halladay has a 6.11 ERA this month.

The Chase Utley Report

After giving his knees a break in the first half of May, Chase Utley has been taking regular infield work ever since May 16, when the Phillies played the first of two games at Wrigley Field in Chicago.

But he will travel with the Phillies from St. Louis to New York tonight. He won't be spending Memorial Day taking his rehab to Clearwater, to begin playing in games.

So what is his status? Here is what Utley had to say Sunday morning at Busch Stadium:

Q: How has the pain threshold been as you've progressed in taking regular ground ball work?

Utley: Every day it seems like it's getting a little bit better. The last couple of days I've pushed it and increased the intensity a little bit and they have responded well, so that's a good sign in my eyes.

Q: You have increased the intensity of ground balls?

Utley: Yeah, moving a little bit quicker, a little bit harder and a little bit more.

Q: Have you been running regularly?

Utley: As far as running around, shagging balls in the outfield, kind of using that time for agility.

Q: So there's a purpose to the outfield stuff?

Utley: Without a doubt.

Q: Is there a number of ground balls in mind before ready to go on rehab?

Utley: I think it's just more of a feel. Right now, I'm taking anywhere from 20 to 40 groundballs. The last few days have picked up that intensity as far as range and how hard I'm going after the ball. There's a little bit more of a process and I've worked a little harder. It's encouraging that the following day I feel the same as I did the day before.

Q: Any idea next step, to Clearwater?

Utley: No. But I'm encouraged by the way it has gone the past week or so.

Q: You have been shagging in left field, and said you've done so with a purpose. Chance you'd play out there?

Utley: I haven't thought about it too much.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

The M.A.S.H. Report

A quick update on six Phillies players on the disabled list:

-- Chase Utley (left knee) will travel with the Phils from St. Louis to New York on Sunday night, according to general manager Scott Proefrock. For the last 10 days, Utley has taken part in regular hitting and infield work during pregame batting practice sessions.

Utley is currently (Saturday BP) taking throws from the outfield at second base, applying mock tags. It's unknown when Utley will take his rehab to Clearwater, Fla. When he does go to Clearwater, he will hop right into extending spring training or rehab games.

--Ryan Howard (Achilles) and Michael Martinez (right foot) were both scheduled to hit in simulated games on Saturday in Clearwater. Howard has been at the Phillies spring training facility four four weeks, but has yet to appear in a game. He has ben doing both light running and fielding exercises within the last week.

--Jim Thome (back) played in his second extended spring training game in as many days on Saturday. Thome had an RBI double and an infield single on Friday. Thome has been on the DL since May 2. the Phils hope to have him back in time for a stretch of nine straight interleague games in American League ballparks, when they'll need a DH, that begins on June 8.

--Justin De Fratus (right elbow) threw for the first time in a month on Friday. According to Proefrock, the session went well as De Fratus was scheduled to play catch again Saturday.

--Vance Worley (right elbow) played light catch with pitching coach Rich Dubee before batting practice at Busch Stadium early Saturday afternoon. Worley is eligible to come off the DL on Monday, but has yet to throw off the mound in his rehab. Proefrock wasn't sure if Worley would have to go on a rehab outing or not before returning to the rotation.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Doc takes temperature of the Phillies clubbhouse

During the first two months of the season, a lot has been lacking with the Philadelphia Phillies. 

The most obvious items are the All-Star bats in the middle of the lineup, Ryan Howard and Chase Utley. Their absences have undoubtedly had a trickle-down effect on the offense and the team at large.

But it's also been an interesting clubhouse. A lot of the faces everyone has been used to seeing (Brad Lidge and Raul Ibanez come to mind) have been replaced by new personalities (Jonathan Papelbon comes to mind). 

If you subtract both Howard and Utley, since they have been away from the team for the majority of the season's first seven weeks, the Phils have six players regularly in their clubhouse who were on the World Champion 2008 team. Six. 

That's not to say that turnover is a bad thing. But there are plenty of players who either haven't won or are still finding their way in a new environment.

Prior to Tuesday's game against the Nationals - a game that ended with the Phils dropping their season-high fourth straight in a 5-2 defeat - Charlie Manuel talked about this very subject. 

"I don’t know how you guys look at it, but I look at it like if I’ve been in an organization that’s lost for a long time, and then like, you know, you come into the atmosphere of a winner, I look at that as different," Manuel said. "There’s more pressure. But also, too, those guys, I’m not saying they can’t come into the fold and be on our team, but there’s a time where they feel comfortable."

This leads us to Roy Halladay, who had never been in the playoffs in 11-plus major league seasons before joining the Phillies. 

Halladay is in his third season in Philadelphia now, however, and he has a very good idea of how to go about winning baseball games. Just look at the back of his baseball card.

Stunningly, the Phils have lost six of the last seven times Halladay has taken the mound. 

No, Halladay hasn't been his normal, dominant self in some of those games: he has a 4.75 ERA in that span. Yes, the offense hasn't showed up in most of those games, too: they've scored a total of seven runs in five of those six losses.

But throughout it all, Halladay has not lost his composure. Probably more than anyone in the clubhouse, the 35-year-old Halladay, despite not having a World Series ring, gets it.

Following Tuesday's defeat, a game that he put the Phils in a 5-1 hole in the first four innings, Halladay was at his best not as a pitcher, but as a voice of a struggling team. It's the kind of voice that's been missing in the 2012 season.

Here are some of the highlights:

On the season's first two months, when the team has underachieved and found a home in last place: 

"Definitely frustrating, but you have to put it behind you. The first two months, they’ve been tough for all of us. You do everything you can to fix it, that’s it. I think it gets back to going out and trying to play a little bit more loose and focus on your job. I think, including myself, we’ve got a lot of guys who are going out and trying to carry the weight of the team. You can’t play that way. I think we’ve seen that. I think everyone is trying to pick up slack for what we might not be doing and guys we’re missing and all of that, and that only seems to compound the problem. A lot of us need to just go out, play the game and have fun playing the game. When you start pressing, start trying to do things you don’t need to do, it makes things worse."

On whether turning things around comes individually, or if players need to hold each other accountable:

"Charlie says it all the time, you do it because you want to, not because you have to. I think its hard when things aren’t going the way you want them to go, but, that’s how you play the game. Ultimately it is a game, and I think that’s important to remember. Its tough to do in places like this where fans expect a lot, media expects a lot, players expect a lot. But I think it’s important to keep that in mind and to try to play that way, regardless of your own expectations and everyone else’s. You have to get back to playing the game, and enjoying playing the game."

On whether he'd be comfortable addressing the team if needed:

"Yeah, I would. I think finding the right time to do that is tough. Guys are beating themselves up and you have a bad day and it's not necessarily the thing you want to hear or anybody else wants to hear. And it doesn't even have to be a team gathering. Just talking to guys and being teammates. We've got a good group. We've got a great chemistry. We've played good at times, and we haven't at times, and it's just a matter of going out and enjoying it. The more we press, it's not going to take care of itself. You prepare as well as you can and go out and let it all hang out."

On whether it's more difficult for the pitchers to succeed when they're regularly getting little run support:

"I don’t know if it’s necessarily the offense or a matter of just trying to win games, but yeah, there’s a lot more tension to the games and you’re doing everything you can, every pitch to help your team win. I don’t know if that’s just because we haven’t scored as many runs or because we haven’t necessarily played as well,but I think there is a certain weight that ultimately falls on our shoulders as pitchers to be able to overcome that. There’s been a lot of games that, and maybe it’s the way you’re pitching, too, at times, where you feel like I’ve got to be a little bit better, and a lot of times that doesn’t work in your favor."

On whether he's concerned about his own numbers, given his high standards:

"I’m definitely not happy with the results. I’ve always tried to prepare as well as I can to get myself ready and accept the results and that’s really all you can do. I feel like I’ve tried to continue to do that and will continue  to do that going forward. I’m not concerned. I feel like I know how to overcome it and I think we do as a team. I think when you start getting concerned it adds a whole elementthat you don’t need. I’m going to keep preparing and accept the results. That’s all I can do."