Antonio Bastardo made a team-high 48 appearances out of the bullpen before being suspended. (USA Today Images)
By the time manager Charlie Manuel got to the ballpark on Tuesday afternoon, Antonio Bastardo’s locker had been cleaned out and the nameplate removed.
From the looks of things, it was as if no one had ever been in Bastardo’s space.
But if Bastardo knew a 50-game suspension was coming for his role in baseball’s Biogenesis scandal, the left-handed reliever did a pretty good job in keeping it a secret. Manuel said he was completely blindsided by the news that he had lost his most prolific reliever, learning of the suspension on Monday afternoon when Major League Baseball announced it, just like everyone else.
General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said he was cryptically tipped off by Bastardo that something was up, but even then the GM didn’t know the lefty was tied up in the Biogenesis investigation.
“He made a … I talked with him the night before and he said there may be something that goes on here,” Amaro said. “That was the only real heads-up I had. I don’t think the player has to tell us anything. He mentioned to me that something might be going on Sunday … so I had an idea that something might be going on.”
Nevertheless, losing Bastardo for a 50-game suspension when there are 51 games remaining in the season is a major blow for the Phillies. Only Bastardo and closer Jonathan Papelbon have been on the Phillies' roster without a trip to the minors or the disabled list this season. Bastardo had appeared in a team-high 48 games, posting a 2.32 ERA with a pair of saves and 47 strikeouts in 42 2/3 innings.
With veteran set-up man Mike Adams on the disabled list since June 19, Bastardo had an important role in Manuel’s bullpen. Replacing Bastardo is going to be difficult.
“I’ll talk to [pitching coach Rich] Dubee but we got to plug someone in there,” Manuel said. “We have to mix and match and use different guys in there.”
To take Bastardo’s spot on the roster, the Phillies selected the contract of lefty Cesar Jimenez from Triple A Lehigh Valley. In 36 games with three starts for the IronPigs, Jimenez had a 4-2 record, 3.12 ERA and three saves. He had 64 strikeouts and 26 walks in 66 innings. Jimenez also had been in the Mariners’ system since 2002, appearing in 43 games in 2006, 2008 and 2011.
In the meantime, Bastardo’s future with the Phillies is cloudy, at best. Though he has been a reliable pitcher and the club controls his contract through next season, Bastardo has some fences to mend. Amaro said the lefty likely will pitch in winter ball and Manuel hopes that Bastardo shows up to Clearwater, Fla., for spring training next February in good shape and ready to work.
“We are disappointed, obviously,” Amaro said. “It’s not the first guy and maybe not the last guy -- hopefully it’s one of the last guys. We can’t do anything about it other than hope that these guys maybe learn their lesson. I think what’s happening is we’re seeing the program working, and hopefully it will continue to deter players from doing what they’re not supposed to be doing.”
Halladay throws again
Roy Halladay took another leap forward in his rehab from shoulder surgery on Monday, when he completed a five-inning bullpen session of approximately 15 pitches per inning.
Halladay is at a stage where he has been able to throw all his pitches and Amaro says a simulated game could be next for Halladay.
“We may try to create a simulated game type of situation, face batters and ramp up the adrenaline he would have and see where it goes,” Amaro said. “But I still have to talk to him. The thought process yesterday was that we’d try to get him in some type of simulated situation to face some hitters. But that’s not etched in stone yet.”
A return to action is not yet etched in stone, either. As far as that goes, Amaro is happy to allow Halladay to take his time.
“We aren’t looking at a timeline, we haven’t in this whole process,” Amaro said. “We’ll just continue to let him pitch and see how it goes.”
Howard’s rehab going slowly
While Halladay is beginning to ramp up his workouts, slugger Ryan Howard still has not been cleared to swing a bat in his recovery from meniscus surgery.
For now, Amaro said, Howard is working out in Clearwater and the hope is that he can be healthy enough to play in September.
That is if he is able to come back at all …
“We don’t have a timeline for him. We hope he gets back in September at some point,” Amaro said. “I know Charlie made some statements about whether he’s going to be back -- we really don’t know. We just continue to monitor him. Right now we’re just trying to get him as close to 100 percent as possible. We’re not going to bring him here and have him play in Philadelphia unless we think he’s absolutely 100 percent and ready to go.”