The Phillies took a big step closer to getting the band back together last night as Ryan Howard suited up for the Lakewood Blue Claws in his first game of his current rehab assignment.
As you can see in the video below, Howard lifted one offering deep to left center but it was a few feet shy from leaving the yard -- good for a sac fly though. He also looked rather spry on the base path, an incredible sight given the indelible image of him writhing in pain on the ground near home plate to end last season.
With Howard's return inching closer, Ruben Amaro Jr. is left with deciding how to make room for the Big Piece on the roster. It looks like Jim Thome could be the odd man out. ESPN's Jayson Stark talked to Amaro about potentially sending Thome to the American League to DH. [videos below]
"The ideal situation right now, because he can't really play defense in
the National League, would be for Jim to play in the American League,"
Amaro said. "He still has the ability to win a game for us and be
productive off the bench. The problem is, the further away he gets from
regular at-bats, the more difficult it becomes for him to do that. So
we'll see what happens. We'll keep in contact with some clubs and see if
there's the right fit out there for Jim and for the Phillies."
As Beerleaguer points out, Thome's stock is probably at its highest now coming off of his super hot display at DH during inter-league play.
The dream of watching Gentleman Jim pull a Matt Stairs in the postseason for the Phillies appears to be drifting away, sadly.
Howard talks about feeling good with video of him putting on the jets trying to get back to first. He looks spry!:
PITTSBURGH -- Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco, who was hit on the left wrist by a pitch on Friday night, is not in the starting lineup for Saturday’s game against the Pittsburgh Pirates (see lineup).
Franco was hit by a pitch from the Pirates’ Gerrit Cole in the first inning of the Phillies’ 4-0 victory then was removed after hitting a single in the third inning (see story).
“He’s still sore,” Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said Saturday. “He’s day to day. Maybe he will be back in the lineup (Sunday).
Franco suffered a fracture of the same wrist last August when he was hit by a pitch.
Andres Blanco is taking Franco’s place in the lineup after having two hits Friday night when he replaced the third baseman. Blanco is hitting .264 with three home runs in 73 games this season and is reportedly drawing some interest from contending teams looking to add bench help.
“I could see why he would be a desirable player,” Mackanin said. “We’re not going to give him away, though, if we do trade him. He’s played very well for us.”
It looks like the Flyers and Brayden Schenn are heading towards arbitration.
A source tells CSNPhilly.com Flyers Insider Tim Panaccio that the Flyers and Schenn's camp are at odds over the salary of Schenn's next contract.
Schenn turned down a two-year deal worth $4.25 million in the first year and $4.369 million in the second, according to the source, noting that Schenn is looking for a deal that would pay him $5.5 million this upcoming season.
Schenn is coming off a career year, setting career highs in goals (26) and points (59), and is now looking to cash in on his best season. Last season, Schenn earned $2.75 million.
General manager Ron Hextall has repeatedly said he believes a deal will get done, but at the moment nothing looks imminent.
Schenn's arbitration hearing is scheduled for Monday.
After being hit on the wrist by a pitch in Friday's win (see story), Maikel Franco will not play today. Instead, Andres Blanco will take his place, hitting third in the lineup. Blanco was 2 for 2 replacing Franco in the third inning on Friday, with an RBI and a run scored.
Blanco has been reliable when called upon this season, hitting .264 with a .317 OBP in mostly a utility role.
Other than that, the lineup remains the same as Friday.
Peter Bourjos will leadoff after going 0 for 5 last night, followed by Odubel Herrara. After an All-Star first half, Herrara has hit .211 in July, but seemed to get back on track with three hits on Friday, while scoring two runs.
After a brutal stretch of games and an extended All-Star break, Aaron Nola returned to form vs. the Marlins last week, tossing six shutout innings. Nola again looks to prove the doubters wrong again today vs. the Pirates, who he has never faced in his brief career.
Here is tonight's lineup:
1. Peter Bourjos RF
2. Odubel Herrera CF
3. Andres Blanco 3B
4. Tommy Joseph 1B
5. Cameron Rupp C
6. Cody Asche LF
7. Freddy Galvis SS
8. Cesar Hernandez 2B
9. Aaron Nola P