Back in Mike Adams’ heyday, the eighth inning was all his.
The longtime setup man, who has been sidelined since early June with rotator cuff inflammation, looks like he’ll have a shot to return to the Phillies’ bullpen in September. The 36-year-old will begin a rehab assignment Tuesday at Triple A Lehigh Valley.
Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg seemed a bit surprised.
“In some regards,” the manager said before Saturday’s game. “He was in Florida doing his throwing program and progressed rather quickly, I would say in the last week or so to actually get him to joining Lehigh Valley.”
The question now is where he’ll pitch for the Phillies when/if he returns.
Adams is in the second year of his two-year deal with the club, which has a team option for 2015. That option is guaranteed at $6 million if Adams pitches 60 innings in 2014 or at $6.5 million with 120 innings pitched in 2013-14, including 60 in 2014.
He won’t come close to either.
In Adams’ absence, rookie flamethrower Ken Giles has grabbed a chokehold of the eighth inning, while lefty Jake Diekman has cemented his spot in late relief.
So, again, with the Phillies headed for a third straight season of no playoffs, where does Adams fit with the youngsters looking like the future of the bullpen?
“Just another right-handed option there,” Sandberg said of Adams. “Somewhere in the mix — [seventh inning, eighth inning], back end.”
Sandberg said the Phillies will monitor Adams' progress after a week with the IronPigs.
Entering Saturday, Diekman, Giles and closer Jonathan Papelbon had a combined 1.29 ERA in August with 40 strikeouts and eight walks.
Given the state of the Phillies and Adams’ contract, where they toss him in the middle of that should be interesting.