DUNEDIN, Fla. From Chase Utleys right knee to the slow-healing wound on the back of Ryan Howards left ankle, Charlie Manuel has plenty to be concerned about as the second half of the Grapefruit League schedule heats up.
On Sunday, the Phillies manager articulated a couple more concerns:
His teams defense.
And Antonio Bastardos velocity or lack thereof.
Manuel had actually mentioned defense before. He brought it up again after the Phils made two more errors in a 10-2 loss to Toronto. First baseman John Mayberry Jr. made an errant throw on a bunt. (It was a tough play and he probably should have eaten the ball.) Second baseman Kevin Frandsen made a fielding error.
The Phils have played 18 games and made 14 errors. And there have been a number of other potentially playable balls that infielders have not gotten to. Third baseman Ty Wigginton appeared annoyed with himself for not getting to one behind Cole Hamels on Sunday.
Im concerned about our defense, Manuel said. Weve always kind of depended on our defense. I think last year there were times when we pitched over our defense.
Its not just infield play that has Manuel concerned. He mentioned the need to run down balls in the outfield, as well.
As for Bastardo, Manuel was blunt:
His velocity is a little down, Manuel said. I noticed it the last time out. Hes been 86 to 89 mph.
Bastardo had five brilliant months in the Phillies bullpen last season and struggled in September. Pitching coach Rich Dubee has said that he believes Bastardos September struggles stemmed from fatigue after his first full season in the majors.
General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. was asked about Bastardos health after the pitchers previous outing and Amaro said the lefthander was fine. The lack of velocity may just be natural for this time of year. Some pitchers need an entire spring to build arm strength and some need regular-season adrenaline to gain full velocity.
Nonetheless, Bastardos situation bears watching.
E-mail Jim Salisbury at email@example.com