Papelbon says he's ready to go and has no regrets

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Papelbon says he's ready to go and has no regrets

If the Phillies are in a save situation Tuesday night, Jonathan Papelbon says he will be available for duty.

He called in sore Sunday and his replacement, Antonio Bastardo, blew a three-run lead in the ninth inning en route to a demoralizing 5-4 loss to the New York Mets at Citi Field.

Manager Ryne Sandberg lost six pounds between that loss and reporting to work Tuesday. No, it wasn’t Sunday’s ugliness that made Sandberg ill. It was a bad post-game burger in New York.

Papelbon’s off day remains quite controversial. Eyebrows have been raised in the Phillies’ clubhouse as to why the closer could not go. Papelbon did not pitch Wednesday or Thursday in Toronto (see story). He warmed up twice and pitched an inning in Friday’s win, and warmed up once and pitched an inning in Saturday’s win. He threw a total of 21 pitches in those two games, yet was too sore to answer the bell Sunday.

After Sunday's game, Papelbon cited that hardly excessive workload as the reason for his soreness.

On Tuesday, Papelbon added that the artificial turf in Toronto might have contributed. He did not pitch in Toronto, but stretched and went through some pre-game workouts.

Papelbon was asked if he regretted not pitching Sunday.

“No,” Papelbon said Tuesday afternoon. “I’ve pitched through soreness before. This was different. It was basically a soreness where I wasn’t comfortable throwing. I felt like I could create more injury. Instead of missing 30 or 40 or 50 games, I decided it would be best for my team and my career to maybe sit one out.”

Papelbon, who complained of neck and back soreness, said he felt better when he woke up Tuesday.

On Sunday, the pitcher mentioned the possibility that he became sore because he warmed up a few times over the weekend.

Sandberg said Papelbon’s warmup time was not unusual for a pair of close games.

“It was not excessive,” Sandberg said.

General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. did not fault Papelbon for opting out of work Sunday. He said he was OK with Papelbon’s explanation.

“I don’t think there is anything specific,” Amaro said. “His back and his neck was bothering him. He’s available tonight. Just like anybody else, he has some mileage, and we have to keep an eye on these guys. If by not having him pitch one game so he can pitch 30 more, then that’s what we’ll do.”

It’s important for a team to have a closer who can pitch three days in a row. What if this were October? Could Papelbon have pitched?

“Yeah,” Papelbon said. “I would have probably gotten maybe a shot of Toradol and said, ‘Screw it.’ But it’s not a postseason game so I didn’t.”

Sandberg said he did not believe Papelbon’s workload on Friday and Saturday -- three warmups and 21 pitches -- was excessive, and he made it clear that he needs his closer to be ready for games.

“We need a closer that can go three games in a row and close three games, no question about that,” he said. “He was up and down a couple times on Friday and that's just normal baseball stuff. Then he had seven pitches and 14 pitches. So I need him to go out that third day and be our closer in a series like that, in any scenario like that.”

Sandberg spoke to Papelbon on Tuesday just to make sure the closer had no arm problems. Papelbon assured Sandberg he was fine, that he just had soreness in his back and neck and was ready to go.

The manager was asked whether he was confident that he’d have Papelbon three days in a row when the situation calls for it.

“I sure hope so,” he said. “That's his job.”

MLB Notes: Yoenis Cespedes sits vs. Phillies because of quad injury

MLB Notes: Yoenis Cespedes sits vs. Phillies because of quad injury

NEW YORK -- Mets slugger Yoenis Cespedes again has soreness in his right quadriceps and was held out of the lineup for Sunday afternoon's game against Philadelphia.

Cespedes originally suffered the injury on July 8 after chasing Daniel Murphy's RBI double to deep center field in the Mets' 3-1 loss to Washington. He went 1 for 2 with a mammoth home run in the Mets' 12-1 rout of Philadelphia on Saturday. He walked and scored in the seventh inning but was pinch-hit for in his second at-bat in the inning, as New York sent 11 men to the plate. He leads the team with a .295 average and is among the National League leaders in home runs (26).

Second baseman Neil Walker is also out of the lineup with a stiff back. Walker returned to the lineup on Friday after being away from the team for three days following the birth of his daughter, Nora, on Aug. 23.

Orioles: Tommy Hunter signed; McFarland, Borbon cut
NEW YORK-- The Baltimore Orioles have signed right-hander Tommy Hunter, bringing him back for a sixth straight season.

The Orioles announced the move before Sunday's game against the New York Yankees. They also recalled righty Oliver Drake from Triple-A Norfolk and designated lefty T.J. McFarland and outfielder Julio Borbon for assignment.

Hunter was 2-2 with a 3.74 ERA in 21 games for Cleveland this season. He was in the minors rehabbing a recent back injury when the Indians cut him on Thursday.

The 30-year-old Hunter played for Baltimore from 2011-15, going 21-20 with a 4.22 ERA. He said he was thrilled to rejoin the Orioles, adding there were "a lot of smiles, a lot of hugs" when he walked into the clubhouse.

Manager Buck Showalter said Hunter brought a lot of experience, having spent so much time in the AL East.

"Felt fortunate to add him at this time of year," Showalter said.

Drake has pitched four games for Baltimore this year, giving up six earned runs in 5 2/3 innings.

McFarland was 2-2 with a 6.93 ERA in 16 games. Borbon went 4 for 13 in six games.

Source: Jeremy Hellickson ineligible for late trade, here for remainder of ‘16

Source: Jeremy Hellickson ineligible for late trade, here for remainder of ‘16

NEW YORK – Jeremy Hellickson will be with the Phillies for the remainder of the season.
 
According to sources, the veteran right-hander was recently claimed on waivers. The Phillies were unable to work out a deal with the claiming team and Hellickson was pulled back, making him ineligible to be traded the remainder of the season.
 
Hellickson drew interest before the Aug. 1 trade deadline, but the Phillies did not receive an offer that they liked so they hung on to the pitcher. A player traded after Aug. 1 must first go through waivers.
 
Players traded in August must be on their new team’s roster by Sept. 1 — Thursday — to gain playoff eligibility. Players can still be traded in waiver deals after Sept. 1, but they would be ineligible for the playoffs.
 
Even though Hellickson, 29, can be a free agent at season’s end, Phillies officials did not view trading him as an imperative. The Phillies believe they can get good value for Hellickson with a compensatory pick in next June’s draft. But first the Phils must extend Hellickson a qualifying salary offer for 2017. That could be close to $17 million. Hellickson would have to turn the offer down and opt for the free-agent market for the Phils to get that pick.
 
Hellickson is 10-8 with a 3.80 ERA in 26 starts for the Phillies this season. He struggled against the Mets on Saturday night, but had a 2.60 ERA in his previous 11 starts. Chances seem good that he will find a multi-year deal on the free-agent market and reject the Phillies’ one-year qualifying offer, thus giving the team a draft pick between the first and second rounds.

Today's Lineup: A.J. Ellis, as expected, catches Vince Velasquez

Today's Lineup: A.J. Ellis, as expected, catches Vince Velasquez

After arriving to the team Saturday, veteran backstop A.J. Ellis will see his first game action in a Phillies uniform, as expected, in Sunday's series finale against the Mets.

Ellis will catch right-handed starter Vince Velasquez and bat seventh. The catcher doesn't bring much to the plate with his bat, but he calls a good game and was Clayton Kershaw's personal catcher in Los Angeles. It'll be interesting to see how he handles Velasquez.

The 35-year-old is hitting just .194 this season with one home run and 13 RBIs.

In other lineup notes, Tommy Joseph gets the start at first base and will bat cleanup and Jimmy Paredes gets his second straight start in left field. Paredes will hit sixth.

Here is the Phillies' full lineup:

1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Odubel Herrera, CF
3. Maikel Franco, 3B
4. Tommy Joseph, 1B
5. Aaron Altherr, RF
6. Jimmy Paredes, LF
7. A.J. Ellis, C
8. Freddy Galvis, SS
9. Vince Velasquez, P

For more on today's game, check out Steven Tydings' game notes.