The news is actually good on Phils Hamels


The news is actually good on Phils Hamels

Charlie Manuel is not a doctor, but hes starting to play one on TV. Every day seems to bring another health update, or word of another injury, in Manuels daily pregame meeting with reporters.

Tuesdays list of ailments was so lengthy that Manuel had to wave in help from the bullpen and let general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. finish it off.

The short version:

Reliever Jose Contreras season is over. The righthander, limited to just 17 games by a sore elbow, is headed for exploratory surgery in California. Amaro said Contreras may have some loose fragments in his elbow, or possibly a problem with his flexor tendon. The Phillies are hoping for a quick and easy surgical fix that will allow Contreras to be ready for spring training.

Ryan Howard did not start Tuesday nights game because of what Amaro called bursitis in his left heelAchilles area.

Raul Ibanez missed his second straight game with a left groin problem that is similar to the sports hernia he had surgically repaired after the 2009 season. He had an injection of medication on Tuesday, and if it works as well as the one that Placido Polanco had for a similar problem, he could be back in the lineup sometime over the weekend.

Tuesdays injury update actually started early Tuesday afternoon moments before the earth shook when the Phillies media relations department sent out an email announcing the Cole Hamels had been placed on the disabled list with left shoulder inflammation.

The email was a little alarming at first because all signs pointed to Hamels being over the shoulder problem that has forced him to miss a couple of turns in the rotation. In fact, Hamels was scheduled to throw a bullpen session Tuesday afternoon and he had been tentatively penciled in to start Friday night.

Was there a setback?

The answer to that question came at about 3 p.m. after the earth stopped shaking when Hamels came out onto the field at Citizens Bank Park and started firing baseballs.

He was fine. Or, as pitching coach Rich Dubee said after the leftys bullpen session, Absolutely fabulous.

So why the trip to the DL?

Several reasons: Foremost, Dubee, who handles all matters pitching for Doctor McDreamy er, Manuel decided that re-inserting Hamels into the rotation on Friday would mean too many days between starts for the rest of the staff. Hamels had already been down for 11 days, so several more on a 15-day DL assignment wouldnt hurt. Besides, the transaction would allow the Phils to bring up an extra body for the banged-up bench. Utility man Pete Orr came up from Triple A.

So here is your Phillies pitching rotation for the coming days:

Wednesday afternoon vs. the Mets: Kyle Kendrick.

Thursday: Off day.

Friday night vs. the Marlins: Roy Oswalt.

Saturday night vs. the Marlins: Roy Halladay.

Sunday afternoon vs. the Marlins: Cliff Lee.

Hamels is scheduled to return to the rotation Monday night against the Reds in Cincinnati. Dubee is a sharpie. He knows how important it is for Hamels to come back and get on a good roll, so you can bet the venue Cincinnatis Great American Ball Park played into his plan. Hamels is 3-0 with a 1.67 ERA in four career starts in the ballpark on the banks of the Ohio River. In October, he pitched one of the best games of his life in the yard, shutting out the Reds on five hits in a no-walk, nine-K gem to sew up the National League Division Series.

Coles great, raved Dubee after Hamels bullpen session on Tuesday. Things really went well. He felt strong. He had no hesitancy. He had good command.Hamels was encouraged by his bullpen session.''It went very well," he said. "I was happy with it."Hamels participated in battingbunting practice with the other starters after his bullpen session. If he had any problems in the bullpen, he would have skipped that exercise and headed to the trainers room.

Monday nights start by Hamels will be the most important of the season for any of the Phils starting pitchers. Hamels has been crucial to this teams past success and he is crucial to its potential success the rest of the season. He needs to make a healthy showing.

With the best record in the majors, the Phils are on a collision course with their fifth straight NL East title and another berth in the October championship tournament. Injuries have been a major hurdle for the club, but all signs point to the team being healed up well enough before October to be at full strength for when it matters most.

Howards injury is a minor, nagging one. He would have played Tuesday night if this were October. Ibanez should be able to make it to the finish line, though John Mayberry Jr. another homer Tuesday night might steal his job by then. More will be known about Hamels condition on Monday, but initial impressions are good. Jimmy Rollins should be recovered from his groin injury by mid-September and Polanco has looked strong in two games back from the DL.

The one exception is Contreras, but the Phillies have survived for this long without him that you have to believe they can continue to as long as there are no more injuries.

E-mail Jim Salisbury at

Tonight's lineup: After benching, Odubel Herrera back in leadoff spot


Tonight's lineup: After benching, Odubel Herrera back in leadoff spot

It seems like Phillies manager Pete Mackanin has decided pulling Odubel Herrera in the seventh inning of a tied game on Monday is enough punishment for failing to run out a ground ball.

The centerfielder will be back in his customary leadoff spot when the Phillies take on Justin Verlander and the Tigers tonight at Comerica Park (see game notes).

Much of the talk surrounding the Phillies in the last 24 hours has centered on Herrera after Mackanin yanked him from the game Monday (see story). After all, Herrera's .335 batting average leads an offense-starved team that averages just 3.24 runs per game, second-worst in the majors. Before he was pulled on Monday, Herrera was 3 for 4 with an RBI and had a 15-pitch at-bat against starter Mike Pelfrey to start the game.

Tommy Joseph will start again at first base after clobbering his second homer of the season on Monday. Despite another night of immense struggles (see story), Ryan Howard is again in the lineup as the designated hitter in the American League park.

The only change to to the lineup from Monday see Carlos Ruiz starting behind the plate to catch Jeremy Hellickson.

Star outfielder Justin Upton will sit again for Detroit as he nurses a quad injury. Mike Aviles will start in his place in left.

Both teams' lineups can be found below. (Updated, 5:43 p.m. — Tigers leadoff man Ian Kinsler has been scratched because of flu-like symptoms.)

1. Odubel Herrera CF
2. Freddy Galvis SS
3. Maikel Franco 3B
4. Tommy Joseph 1B
5. Ryan Howard DH
6. Carlos Ruiz C
7. Cesar Hernandez 2B
8. Tyler Goeddel LF
9. Peter Bourjos RF

1. Cameron Maybin CF
2. J.D. Martinez RF
3. Miguel Cabrera 1B
4. Victor Martinez DH
5. Nick Castellanos 3B
6. Steven Moya LF
7. Jarrod Saltalamacchia C
8. Mike Aviles 2B
9. Jose Iglesias SS 

Jackie Robinson's historic Dodgers contract on display in Philadelphia


Jackie Robinson's historic Dodgers contract on display in Philadelphia

A piece of modern baseball history will be on display in Philadelphia for the next couple of weeks.

The original contract Jackie Robinson signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers in April 1947 that allowed him to break the color barrier in Major League Baseball will be featured at the National Constitution Center from May 26 until June 5.

Mikalai Kontilia, CEO of Collectors Cafe, the company loaning the contract to the Constitution Center, brought both the Dodgers' document and the contract Robinson signed with the minor league Montreal Royals in October 1945 to The Comcast Network's Breakfast on Broad show on Tuesday morning.

"What's amazing is, these contracts, finally, after 60-some odd years, have been unearthed, discovered and the American people can finally see the Jackie Robinson contracts," Kontilia said.

The Dodgers' contract plays an important role in American history, and not just in terms of sport. Many people point to then-Dodgers owner Branch Rickey's signing Robinson as a starting point in the American civil rights movement.

Kontilia said a historic documentarian appraised the contracts at a value of $36 million.

For more on the contracts, check out the segment from Breakfast on Broad.

Photo credit of Robinson signing contract:

Phillies-Tigers 5 things: Jeremy Hellickson's 2-strike changeup key


Phillies-Tigers 5 things: Jeremy Hellickson's 2-strike changeup key

Phillies (25-20) at Tigers (22-22)
7:10 p.m. on CSN

The Phillies actually lost a one-run game. 

Their six-game road trip started off with a 5-4 loss Monday night — which makes them 14-4 in one-run games — against a Tigers lineup that showed just how much power it has. Miguel Cabrera homered twice, and J.D. Martinez and Nick Castellanos added solo shots of their own. It was an all-around rough night for Phillies pitchers, but they have a chance to even the series tonight at Comerica Park.

Let's take a look at the matchup:

1. Keep 'em in the park
Comerica Park favors pitchers more than hitters, but the Tigers and Phillies made it look small on Monday, hitting a combined six home runs. Oddly enough, all were solo shots.

Jeremy Hellickson hopes tonight for more success than Vince Velasquez had Monday. Hellickson struggled with the home run ball earlier in the year, allowing nine in his first seven starts. He didn't allow one in either of his last two starts, but the Marlins and Reds aren't as loaded offensively as the Tigers.

Detroit has clicked at the plate over the last week, belting 17 home runs over its last six games. J.D. Martinez has three of them and Cabrera has five. With those two batting second and third, Hellickson needs to be sharp in the first inning. 

The opening frame has been a problem for Hellickson all season — his opponents have hit .289 with an .883 OPS, six doubles and a homer. His first-inning ERA is 7.00 this season and 5.75 over the last two.

2. Changes from Hellickson
He enters 4-2 with a 3.99 ERA. Over his last two starts, Hellickson's given up just two earned runs in 13 innings, putting 11 men on base and striking out 13. He's faced 57 batters since last allowing a home run for his longest homerless streak of the season.

What's been the biggest difference for Hellickson in his last two starts? He's turned to his changeup, his best pitch, more often with two strikes. In his first seven outings, Hellickson threw the changeup 18 percent of the time with two strikes. His last two starts, he's thrown it 48 percent of the time with two strikes. It's completely fooled the opposition, which is 0 for 17 with 11 strikeouts against Hellickson's changeup over that span.

Hellickson has by far the highest swing-and-miss rate of changeups in all of baseball with 57 in 184 pitches (31 percent).

Look for Hellickson to continue utilizing that pitch tonight. Here are some of the Tigers' numbers this season against right-handed changeups:

Cabrera: 1 for 11
Castellanos: 1 for 10
Justin Upton: 1 for 7
J.D. Martinez: 0 for 7

Current Tigers are 30 for 95 (.316) lifetime against Hellickson. Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia has done the most damage, going 8 for 25 with three doubles, three homers and five walks. Cabrera is 4 for 11 with a homer. Upton is 5 for 13 with two doubles and two homers, but he's out again tonight with a tight quad.

3. Not the same Verlander
Now 33, Justin Verlander is not the same fireballer he was in his prime. In 2011, the year he won AL Cy Young and MVP, his fastball averaged 95 mph. This season, the pitch has averaged a career-low 92.1. 

Here's a look at the difference for Verlander's pitches the last three seasons compared to his peak of 2009 to 2012:

Fastball: .254 opponents' batting average
Curveball: .152
Changeup: .196
Slider: .209

Fastball: .263
Curveball: .248
Changeup: .275
Slider: .227

His pitches just haven't had the same life and bite as they once did. We've seen this happen to a number of former aces over the last few seasons: Verlander, Felix Hernandez, Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, CC Sabathia, Roy Halladay. When the decline happens, it happens fast, especially for guys who pitch so many innings every year. It's not as drastic for some as it is for others. King Felix has been able to remain effective despite diminished velocity by mastering his offspeed pitches. That's something Lincecum, Cain and Sabathia have been unable to do.

Verlander is sort of in between. Since the start of 2014, he's 23-24 with a 4.16 ERA and 1.27 WHIP in 61 starts. He hasn't been horrible but hasn't been great either.

This season, Verlander is 3-4 with a 4.58 ERA. He's struck out 60 and walked 20 in 57 innings. He's on a roll entering tonight's game, having allowed just four runs over his last 22⅓ innings with 27 strikeouts.

Current Phillies have only 34 career at-bats against Verlander and 18 belong to David Lough. Ryan Howard and Andres Blanco are 0 for 3, Carlos Ruiz is 0 for 2 and Peter Bourjos is 1 for 8.

4. Franco breaking out?
Maikel Franco has had back-to-back multi-hit games for the first time since April 22-23, when he hit three home runs and drove in seven in the first two games of a series in Milwaukee.

Is he finally breaking out of his lengthy slump? Every time over the last few weeks that it's looked like it, he's followed with a few hitless games. 

Franco does appear to be seeing the ball better, though. He's walked just 11 times all season but four have come in his last seven games. In his last five, he's reached base nine times in 19 plate appearances with a double and a homer.

5. This and that
• Odubel Herrera, who was pulled from Monday's game for not hustling out a groundball, has followed an 0-for-11 skid by going 5 for 7 in his last two games. He's batting .335, and his .901 OPS is 10th among all NL outfielders, ahead of guys like Starling Marte, Hunter Pence, Andrew McCutchen, Giancarlo Stanton and Carlos Gonzalez.

• Herrera's five errors lead all MLB centerfielders. Nobody else has more than two.

• Colton Murray's soaking up three innings last night allowed David Hernandez, Hector Neris and Jeanmar Gomez to rest despite Velasquez's recording just 12 outs. Hernandez has had two full days off. Getting these guys some rest will be crucial moving forward. Neris is on pace for 86 appearances, Gomez 83 and Hernandez 72. Last season, only one reliever in the majors (St. Louis' Kevin Siegrist) had 80-plus appearances.

• Tommy Joseph entered Monday 0 for 7 with four strikeouts against right-handed pitching, but he had a double and a homer off Mike Pelfrey. 

• Ryan Howard is 4 for 52 (.077) with 22 strikeouts over his last 18 games. His .156 batting average ranks last among 180 qualifying major-leaguers and his .226 OBP is 177th.