Frank: DeSean holdout wouldn't be cause for alarm

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Frank: DeSean holdout wouldn't be cause for alarm

BETHLEHEM, Pa. -- DeSean Jackson could show up at the NovaCare Complex on Sept. 10, jump on the team charter to St. Louis without a single practice, and catch four passes for 173 yards without breaking a sweat against the Rams on opening day.

Thats just who he is.

So as holdouts go, this one wont be a huge headache for the Eagles. Heck, Andy Reid would never admit it, but hed probably rather have Jackson back in L.A. tweeting about his 10,000 bar tabs than running pass patterns in live drills on the grass fields at Lehigh.

Mike Quick held out from training camp more often in his brilliant career than he showed up. Never bothered him.

Why should I be at training camp? Quick used to say. You could get hurt out there. You cant get hurt holding out.

Corey Simon missed 2 12 weeks of training camp in 2000 and then showed up and had the best rookie season any Eagle defensive tackle has ever had.

Brian Westbrook sat out the first week and a half at Lehigh in 2005 and was in midseason form in his first practice.

Heck, in 2006, we watched A.J. Feeley go 9-for-12 passing for 131 yards in a preseason game against the Jets one day after signing with the Eagles. He threw four passes for 69 yards to Darnerien McCants, then admitted after the game he didnt even know his name.

Unless he changes his mind by Thursday morning, Jackson wont be on the practice fields at Lehigh Thursday afternoon, when players under contract are required to report.

But no matter how many times the Eagles tell you Jackson is missing critical practice time and meeting time and film time while he boycotts training camp, dont believe it. Hes not. He and Michael Vick have a remarkable connection that a couple weeks off isnt going to affect. Not a bit.

The Eagles realize just how underpaid Jackson is. At last count, Jacksons 565,000 base salary for 2011 is 28th-highest on the team (below guys like Mike Kafka, Clay Harbor, Trevard Lindley, Keenan Clayton and Riley Cooper). There are something like 90 NFL wide receivers in the NFL who make more money than Jackson, but none who make as many big plays as Jackson, whose 12 touchdowns of 60 yards or more are the most in NFL history by a player before his 24th birthday.

About 99 percent of the time, players under contract who hold out from training camp are ill-advised and have an inflated sense of their own worth and are hurting the team.

Not this time.

Why should Jackson put himself at risk at Lehigh when there are rookie draft picks on the field across from him whove never played a single NFL snap with higher base salaries than his?

What about being there for his team after an off-season with no minicamps or OTAs?

Who cares.

DeSean knows the plays. Run as fast as he can as far as he can and catch bombs from Vick and then dance around the end zone. How much training camp do you need to do that?

In any case, we have a hunch that Jackson will arrive at Lehigh before too long.

Under terms of the new CBA, players under contract must report to their teams by Aug. 9 or lose a year or pension credit.

Pension credit might not sound like a huge deal, but its the life blood of NFL contracts. And without four years of pension credit, players dont become free agents.

So if Jackson reports on Aug. 10, he will go into this off-season with only three years of accrued pension credit after his fourth NFL season, and that means he wont be an unrestricted free agent this spring, and that means the Eagles could let him play for 568,000 this year with no urgency to get a new deal done, since Jackson wouldnt be able to leave Philly until after the 2012 season.

So hell get here eventually. And at some point, the Eagles will sit down with agent Drew Rosenhaus and work out a long-term deal for Jackson, and hell spend the next several years in an Eagles uniform making all those electrifying plays and catching all those long touchdowns and dazzling all of us.

In between, therell be a lot of threats and name-calling. Therell be allegations and frustration. Therell be tweets and counter-tweets.

Then, at some point, it will all end, and theres No. 10 at Lehigh running past a bunch of overmatched cornerbacks while the crowd roars.

And by opening day, Jackson will be ready to go, the Eagles explosive offense will be intact, and at some point later this fall, D-Jack will have a new multi-year contract and these few meaningless days of practice that he missed will be long-forgotten.
E-mail Reuben Frank at rfrank@comcastsportsnet.com

Instant Replay: Nationals 5, Phillies 1

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Instant Replay: Nationals 5, Phillies 1

BOX SCORE

The Phillies' late-May slide continued in a 5-1 loss to the Washington Nationals at Citizens Bank Park on Tuesday night.
 
Aaron Nola delivered a solid start, but got poor run support. The Phillies entered the game averaging 3.2 runs per game, lowest in the majors.
 
The Nationals scored all their runs on home runs.
 
The Phillies have lost nine of their last 11 games. They are 1-7 in their last eight and have gone from 25-19 and two games back in the NL East to 26-26 and 5½ games back.
  
Starting pitching report
Nola went six innings and allowed two runs, both on solo homers. He walked one and struck out six. He is 4-4 with a 2.88 ERA.
 
Washington right-hander Joe Ross (5-4) pitched a strong game. He gave up just three hits and a run over seven innings. He walked two and struck out five. Ross has given up just two runs over 14 innings in his last two starts.
 
Bullpen report
Jonathan Papelbon closed it out for the Nats in a non-save situation.
 
At the plate
The Phillies had just four hits. They have been held to two or fewer runs 20 times in their 52 games.

Cesar Hernandez tripled home the Phillies' only run.

Jayson Werth and Daniel Murphy accounted for the Nationals’ first two runs pair of solo homers against Nola. Danny Espinosa smacked a two-run homer off Colton Murray in the ninth and Stephen Drew followed with an inside-the-park homer.
 
Murphy also singled in the game. He had 47 hits in the month of May, tying a Washington/Montreal franchise record that had previously been shared by Al Oliver and Marquis Grissom.

Lineup stuff
Mackanin was trying to send Hernandez a message by batting him eighth (see story).
 
Bryce Harper did not play for Washington. He was hit on the right leg by a pitch in Monday night’s game.
 
Slumping Ryan Howard started at first base and went hitless in three at-bats to fall to .154. He hit .101 (7 for 69) in the month of May.
 
Howard will not start Wednesday night against Max Scherzer. He is 1 for 18 with 11 strikeouts against Scherzer. Tommy Joseph will start that game.
 
Minor matters
Cody Asche’s minor-league rehab stint expires Wednesday. He could rejoin the team at any time.
 
Up next
 The series concludes on Wednesday night. Lefty Adam Morgan (1-3, 6.67) pitches against Washington right-hander Scherzer (5-4, 4.05).

Drexel alum Ken Tribbett enjoys 'special' week for Union

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Drexel alum Ken Tribbett enjoys 'special' week for Union

CHESTER, Pa. — For more than a month, Union center back Ken Tribbett waited patiently on the sidelines, hoping to get the starting spot back that he had and then lost.

Last week, he indeed got back on the field … and then some.

After Joshua Yaro separated his shoulder in Orlando on Wednesday, Tribbett proceeded to notch his first MLS goal and assist, before playing the full 90 minutes in front of 30 family members in his home state of Colorado on Saturday.

It was quite the eventful week for someone who wasn’t expected to play at all during the road trip, let alone accomplish a couple of emotional milestones.

“It’s an unbelievable feeling,” Tribbett told reporters from Tuesday’s training session after the Union returned home following hard-fought road draws vs. Orlando City SC and the Colorado Rapids. “For me, being out a month, mentally I had to make sure I stayed tuned in. And when I got my chance, I stepped in and was ready to go.”

Even if you are mentally prepared, it’s still not an easy thing to step in at center back in the middle of a game, considering that’s a position that rarely gets changed. Making things even more difficult was the fact that Yaro, who took over starting duties after Tribbett rolled his ankle in April, had been looking every bit like the No. 2 pick in this year’s draft.

“Josh was playing a great game in Orlando,” Union head coach Jim Curtin said. “If you go back and watch the tape, he was one of our top performers. Ken stepped in at the end of the first half, which is challenging at center back — not a position you like to sub at all. But Ken came in pretty seamlessly and got the goal, which is a bonus, obviously.”

You can call it a really big bonus.

Tribbett was never expected to even be in MLS this year after failing to get much notice following a standout career at Drexel.

And he certainly wasn’t expected to log much playing time this season with the Union, who added Yaro and Anderson, a Brazilian, to a position that already featured a rising star in Richie Marquez.

So surprises are nothing new for Tribbett, who started the first five games of the year after soaring up the depth chart in the preseason and now has a goal to add to his unlikely MLS resume.

But it’s no surprise to him.

“I don’t think shock is the right word because I expect a lot of myself and I expect to score a couple of goals this year,” Tribbett said. “So it was just more relief to get the first one out of the way. Any time you score, it’s jubilation, so that was awesome. And to tie the game in Orlando after going down 2-1 was really good for the team, so everything about it was just a special moment.”

Tribbett, who also had a secondary assist in Orlando, enjoyed another “special moment” just three days later when he got to play in the Denver area where he grew up. That was not something he could have imagined after his circuitous journey took him from Colorado to Drexel to the USL’s Harrisburg City Islanders and now to the Union.

“That was probably a moment I won’t ever forget,” Tribbett said. “I had about 20 or 30 family members there, and for a lot of them it was the first time they’ve seen me play professionally. So being back home in Colorado was a special feeling.”

Although the Union backline stayed organized and surrendered only a couple of shots on target in Colorado, Curtin did say it wasn’t the best performance from Tribbett. But the Union coach is ready to lean on him again for Wednesday’s game vs. the Columbus Crew at Talen Energy Stadium (7 p.m./TCN) while Yaro gets an MRI on his shoulder.

“He did fatigue at the end and I talked to him about it,” Curtin said of Tribbett. “He had a couple of little mistakes toward the end of the game. Part of that is your legs starting to fade. But it’s good for him that’s under his belt. He’ll be ready to go now [Wednesday] for the full 90 minutes.”

With the Union idle for two weeks following Wednesday’s game because of a Copa America layoff — and Tribbett’s place in the lineup uncertain from there — the Drexel alum is certainly excited to get back on the field for his first home game since April 8.

“It’s a very important game,” Tribbett said. “We want to go into the break with certain goals for ourselves. We want to be at the top of the conference, and if we win, we’ll achieve that goal. We want to keep one goal per game [allowed]. Right now, we’re one off that, so if we get a shutout tomorrow, we’ll be right back on track.”

Pete Mackanin sends Cesar Hernandez a message

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Pete Mackanin sends Cesar Hernandez a message

Pete Mackanin dropped second baseman Cesar Hernandez to eighth in the batting order for Tuesday night’s game against the Washington Nationals.

“If you want to call it a message you can call it a message,” Mackanin said.

Hernandez entered the game hitting .255 with a .616 OPS. Last year, he hit .272 with and .687 OPS.

“I expect more out of him,” Mackanin said. “I think he's a better hitter than he's shown. I think he's a .280 hitter and I think he's at .250. I want to see improvement. We need him to get back up to .280, where I think he belongs. He’s got to make adjustments. We need offense.”

Mackanin pointed to Hernandez’s double-play partner, shortstop Freddy Galvis, as an example of a player who has made improvements.

Galvis entered Tuesday night hitting .257 with a .696 OPS. But in the month of May, he was hitting .277 with a .708 OPS.

“Freddy is starting to come on,” Mackanin said. “He’s starting to make adjustments.”

Galvis has also played excellent defense.

The Phillies are a rebuilding club with a number of potential big-league contributors rounding out their development in the minors. The team’s top prospect is a shortstop – J.P. Crawford – and he’s in Triple A now. It’s not out of the question that he will be the team’s opening day shortstop next season.

Crawford’s eventual ascension impacts both Galvis and Hernandez. Galvis can also play second base. Whether Hernandez or Galvis becomes the second baseman when Crawford arrives could be determined by who hits. This is the time to make impressions.

“That's basically what it boils down to,” Mackanin said. “I've even talked to them about that — 'It's an important year for both of you because there are people who want to be in the big leagues that are in the minor leagues and want to take your job.' You have to approach it that way. You can't let down. You have to stay focused and work hard.”

While all signs point to Crawford taking over at shortstop in the future, Mackanin said Galvis’ defense should not be taken for granted.

“As well as Freddy is playing shortstop, you'd hate to move a guy like that out of that position,” Mackanin said. “It's a defensive position and he's been so good at it.”

Galvis entered Tuesday night with just two errors in 50 games. His .990 fielding percentage trailed only San Francisco’s Brandon Crawford and Detroit’s Jose Iglesias, both .995.