Phillies uncertain who takes Lee's spot Saturday


Phillies uncertain who takes Lee's spot Saturday

MIAMI – The Phillies called up leftfielder/first baseman Darin Ruf to take Cliff Lee’s spot on the roster. Lee was officially placed on the disabled list with an elbow strain Wednesday morning (see story).

The question remains: Who will take Lee’s spot in the starting rotation Saturday against the Dodgers at Citizens Bank Park?

Manager Ryne Sandberg said it was possible the Phillies would know sometime Thursday.

“As of right now, we have a couple of choices,” Sandberg said before Wednesday’s game.

The most likely choice would seem to be sinkerballer David Buchanan. The 25-year-old right-hander nearly made the big club out of spring training and is 5-1 with a 3.98 ERA in nine starts at Triple A Lehigh Valley.

Buchanan pitched just one inning, allowing five hits and four runs, in his last start Sunday, but Sandberg said he was healthy.

Buchanan is scheduled to pitch for Lehigh Valley on Saturday so he would be a seamless fit into the rotation.

Lefty Greg Smith, who has pitched in the majors with Oakland and Colorado, could also be a possibility. He is scheduled to pitch for Lehigh Valley on Sunday.

Jesse Biddle, 3-4 with a 3.18 ERA in 10 starts at Double A (see story), is not a candidate for the start.

“He’s not ready to be in the big leagues,” general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. “He needs to throw more strikes.”

Biddle has allowed just 48 hits in 56 2/3 innings. He has walked 24 and struck out 61.

The Phillies are in the midst of a stretch of 20 games in 20 days. Without an off day on the horizon, it’s unlikely they would try to piece together a handful of relievers to get through Saturday’s start.

The Phillies will have to make a roster move to add a pitcher on Saturday so it’s possible Ruf could head right back to Triple A on that day to get more at-bats. He began the season on the disabled list because of a strained left oblique muscle and has had just 46 minor-league at-bats. Even Ruf has admitted he could use more at-bats before he’s on top of his game. Still, if Ruf shines in whatever role he plays these next few days, he could force management to keep him and send out another player.

Outfielder Ben Revere has a minor-league option remaining, but Amaro said, “Ben’s not going down.”

Revere, sporting a .284 on-base percentage, did not start for a fifth straight game Wednesday night. He missed a couple of those games because he was ill.

Revere could be back in the lineup Thursday afternoon against right-hander Henderson Alvarez.

Safe at home: MLB umpire John Tumpane rescues woman on bridge

Safe at home: MLB umpire John Tumpane rescues woman on bridge

PITTSBURGH -- John Tumpane can't explain why he approached the woman as she hopped over the railing of the Roberto Clemente Bridge on Wednesday afternoon.

The woman told Tumpane she just wanted to get a better view of the Allegheny River below. The look on her face and the tone of her voice suggested otherwise to Tumpane, a major league baseball umpire in town to work the series between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Tampa Bay Rays.

So the 34-year-old Tumpane reached for the woman even as she urged him to let her go.

"It was just pure instinct," Tumpane said. "You hear kind of stories of this all the time, different scenarios, people aiding and situation where I was lucky enough to be there to help and try to think of everything I could do, hanging on to her. At times she wanted to go the other way. I was like, 'Not on my watch, please.' We were just hanging on."

And saving a life.

Tumpane secured one of her arms. A bystander walked up and grabbed the other while another -- Mike Weinman, an employee for the Rays -- clutched her legs and pinned them to the railing while Tumpane mouthed to someone in the crowd to call 911.

What followed were chaotic moments of panic, fear and ultimately, grace.

"I couldn't tell you how long we were waiting for everyone else to get in place," Tumpane said. "Obviously another power comes into be when you're hanging on and you know what the alternative is of you letting go and not having other people to help you."

Tumpane, Weinman and the third volunteer clung to the unidentified woman until emergency responders arrived. A police boat raced up the river to the iconic yellow bridge named for the Pirates Hall of Famer who died on Dec. 31, 1972, when a plane making humanitarian deliveries to earthquake victims in Nicaragua crashed. Now, 45 years later a crowd thrust together by fate brought a complete stranger back from the brink. Together.

"Once they were able to secure her, we were able to talk her back to help us out and we got her back on this side," Tumpane said. "After that I went up to her, she said, 'You'll just forget me after this,' and I said, 'No, I'll never forget you.' This was an unbelievable day and I'm glad to say she can have another day with us and I'm glad I was in the right place at the right time."

Tumpane, who grew up in the Chicago suburbs, got into umpiring as a teenager, made his major-league debut in 2012 and received his full-time MLB commission in 2016, stressed he's no hero.

"I just happened to be there," he said. "I think I've been a caring person in my life. I saw somebody in need, and it looked like a situation to obviously insert myself and help out."

The aftermath was a bit surreal. After the woman was taken away, Tumpane called his wife, his arms still shaking.

"Not too many times you call your wife and say you helped save somebody's life," he said. "A really special moment."

One that stayed with him even as he prepared to call balls and strikes behind home plate Wednesday night. During breaks in the action his eyes would drift to the bridge just a few hundred feet behind the center field wall at PNC Park.

"It's also hard when you stand back behind home plate and look and you see the bridge in the distance, In between innings and whatnot, just thinking of how things could have maybe been," he said. "Glad it was this way."

Tumpane has no experience in crisis management or suicide prevention. He's spent 16 years living the nomadic life of an umpire. Asked what was going through his head while he tried to coax the woman back to safety, Tumpane just shrugged his shoulders. How do you explain the unexplainable?

"I happened to be in the right spot at the right time," he said. "Tried to be as comforting as I could and talk her through it. Thankfully that was the outcome."

Best of MLB: Giants win after Jae-Gyun Hwang hits go-ahead HR in debut

Best of MLB: Giants win after Jae-Gyun Hwang hits go-ahead HR in debut

SAN FRANCISCO -- Jae-Gyun Hwang homered in his major league debut, a tiebreaking drive in the sixth inning that led the San Francisco Giants over Colorado 5-3 Wednesday and extended the Rockies' losing streak to a season-high eight games.

A 29-year-old who starred for South Korea's Lotte Giants, Hwang was brought up from Triple-A Sacramento before the game and inserted into the starting lineup at third base, batting fifth.

He grounded out in the second inning, hit a run-scoring grounder in the fourth that cut Colorado's lead to 2-1, then broke a 3-3 tie when he homered against Kyle Freeland (8-6). Hwang was given a standing ovation from fans as he rounded the bases and was mobbed by teammates when he got back to the dugout.

He took a called third strike in the eighth, completing a 1-for-4 day (see full recap).

Strasburg strikes out 13 in Nats’ win over Cubs
WASHINGTON -- Stephen Strasburg struck out 13 in seven innings, Bryce Harper had two doubles and two RBIs, and the Washington Nationals beat the Chicago Cubs 8-4 on Wednesday night.

Anthony Rendon and Matt Wieters hit back-to-back homers against John Lackey (5-9) during Washington's four-run second inning. After the Cubs pulled within three at 6-3, Daniel Murphy went deep in the fifth.

It was a rough day for the Cubs, who cut veteran catcher Miguel Montero after he criticized pitcher Jake Arrieta for his role in the Nationals' seven steals in Tuesday's 6-1 win over the World Series champions. Then reigning NL MVP Kris Bryant departed with an apparent right ankle injury.

Bryant awkwardly clipped third base while catching a foul pop off the bat of Wieters in the sixth. He walked around gingerly before being helped off the field (see full recap).

Indians top Rangers in Francona’s return
CLEVELAND -- Trevor Bauer pitched into the seventh inning, Michael Brantley drove in two runs and the Cleveland Indians defeated the Texas Rangers 5-3 on Wednesday night in manager Terry Francona's return to the team.

Francona was cleared to come back after another health scare forced him to leave Monday's game and miss Tuesday's contest. The 58-year-old Francona has been fitted with a heart monitor, but he said doctors have ruled out any serious health issues.

Bauer (7-6) held Texas to one run -- Robinson Chirinos' homer -- and four hits in 6 1/3 innings.

Brantley had RBI singles in the third and the seventh. Francisco Lindor, Jose Ramirez and Edwin Encarnacion also drove in runs.

Yu Darvish (6-6) gave up three runs -- two earned -- in six innings and has one win in his last seven starts.

Andrew Miller struck out four of the five batters he faced. Elvis Andrus hit a leadoff homer in the ninth off Cody Allen. Rougned Odor added an RBI single, but Allen struck out Chirinos to end the game.

Cleveland has won five of six against Texas this season (see full recap).