Phillies notes: All-Stars, injury update, second half

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Phillies notes: All-Stars, injury update, second half

Over the last few years, the National League All-Star team has been filthy with Phillies on its roster and that doesnt even include Charlie Manuel and his coaching staff running the show.

Even though Manuel is not managing the National Leaguers this year, the Phillies will still send five players to Phoenix for Tuesdays midsummer classic and based on the news from Sunday morning its possible the team could send five guys who dont get into the game.

Placido Polanco had been voted in as a starter to Tuesdays game, but with a bulging disc in his back bothering him this week, the Phils third baseman will not play. According to assistant general manager Scott Proefrock, Polanco met with Manuel and general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. and the three came to a mutual agreement that Polanco would sit out.

I wanted to play, but we met yesterday and we decided it would be best for me and the team to take time off and not risk it, Polanco said.

Polanco will travel to Arizona with the Phillies contingent and participate in the pre-game festivities and will receive treatment for his injury, Proefrock said. The team expects Polanco to be ready to return to the lineup when the second half starts on Friday in New York.

Meanwhile, Shane Victorino and Cole Hamels also will be traveling to Arizona for the All-Star Game, but wont participate. Victorino is out because of a Grade 1 sprain of his right thumb landed him on the 15-day disabled list. Hamels will not be able to pitch in the All-Star Game after pitching in Sundays first-half finale against the Braves.

Meanwhile, Cliff Lee could pitch on Tuesday if he used the outing as one of side days because he last pitched on Saturday. Only ace Roy Halladay lined up perfectly to pitch on Tuesday since it will be his regular day to work. However, if the Phillies had it their way, none of their guys would play.

I think that everybody who participates in that game understands that the individuals teams have priority over the All-Star Game, Proefrock said. Were all here to play the championship season and move on to the postseason, nobody involved is going to put that at risk.

Injury update
Roy Oswalt had a series of injections, according to Proefrock, to help him back to form from a bulging disc injury. Oswalt is unable to start any sort of exercises until this coming week, but hell rejoin the Phillies in New York.

Ryan Madson threw a bullpen session on Saturday and showed progress in his return from a hand injury. The righthanded reliever is expected to work out in a rehab outing for Single A Clearwater on Wednesday and could be activated in time to pitch on Friday in New York.

Closer Brad Lidge continued his rehab outings on Saturday for Single A Lakewood with another inning of work. In Saturdays effort, though, Lidge gave up three hits and a run and was charged with a blown save. However, he got two strikeouts and threw his fastball around 90-mph.

There is no timetable for Lidges return, says Proefrock, mostly because he has yet to pitch in back-to-back games. But, hes clearly making progress, Proefrock said.

Victorino also is making progress with his injured thrumb, according to Proefrock. The outfielder will be evaluated by doctors on Thursday in Philadelphia before traveling with the team to New York on Friday.

Everything points to him being ready when his DL time is up, or shortly after, Proefrock said.

Perhaps the biggest concern amongst the plethora of disabled Phillies comes from Jose Contreras, who suffered another setback in his recovery. Proefrock said the veteran righthander has had intermittent symptoms of his elbow reappear and has raised questions over whether he is hurt more than initially diagnosed.

As a result, Contreras will travel to Los Angeles this week to meet with renowned specialist Dr. Lewis Yocum for a second opinion

Starting the second half
Finally, the Phillies announced that Vance Worley will start Fridays second-half opener in New York. Worley pitched magnificently for the Phillies in Miami on July 4, holding the Marlins to two hits and no runs over seven innings in a 1-0 victory. He was optioned to Triple A after the game in order to keep him pitching on a regular schedule and threw a three-hitter without a run over six innings for Lehigh Valley on Saturday.

Hamels is scheduled to pitch on Saturday against the Mets with Sundays pitcher still to be determined. The Phillies want to wait and see how Halladay is used on Tuesday before slotting him in for Sunday afternoons game.
E-mail John R. Finger at jfinger@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow him on Twitter @JRFingerCSN.

Related: Lee blasts first homer, but left to fend for self in loss Phils fall to Braves with defensive gaffe in 11th

Ryan Howard's miserable May continues as Tigers out-power Phillies

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Ryan Howard's miserable May continues as Tigers out-power Phillies

DETROIT — Back when they were racking up National League East titles and filling Citizens Bank Park night after night, the Phillies could slug with anyone.
 
Those days are gone.
 
So even on a night when they got some power from two young up-and-comers in their lineup, the Phillies still couldn’t get enough to match up with the Detroit Tigers on Monday night.
 
“We don’t have enough pop to go blow for blow with them,” manager Pete Mackanin said.
 
The Tigers belted four home runs, three against starting pitcher Vince Velasquez, in beating the Phillies, 5-4, at Comerica Park (see Instant Replay).
 
Maikel Franco and Tommy Joseph both homered for the Phillies, but Ryan Howard, no longer even close to the player he was during those aforementioned title years, slipped deeper into the May quicksand. He went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts to fall to .156 on the season. He is 4 for 48 (.083) in the month of May.
 
“Man, it’s been brutal,” Howard said after the game. “I’m not going to lie. I need some breaks, man. It’s been tough. I’ve hit some balls hard, but they’re not finding any real estate out there.
 
“I have to keep grinding and swinging. Luckily, it’s still early to get it turned around.”
 
Yes, it’s early for some guys.
 
But it might not be that early for Howard. He’s 36 and in the final year of his contract. His slump has coincided with Joseph’s ascension from the minors. Joseph played first base Monday night and looked good at the position. In addition to hitting a game-tying homer in the sixth, he had a double. Half of his six hits in his first seven games in the majors have been for extra bases.
 
Joseph will continue to play first base while Howard serves as the designated hitter in the final two games of the interleague series in Detroit. After that, Joseph is expected to start against lefty Jon Lester in Chicago on Friday. If he keeps hitting — and Howard keeps struggling — the situation could be ripe for Mackanin to continue to play Joseph, even against the right-handers Howard usually sees.
 
“I'm going to look at it a week at a time,” Mackanin said. “We'll see. At some point it might come to that, but I can't say it's imminent.”
 
If Howard starts spending more time on the bench, it will be part of a downhill progression that started in the second half of last season when he became a platoon player. Will a progression to the bench ultimately lead to his being released in the coming weeks? Well, if Joseph keeps hitting and continues to earn playing time, management may have to seriously ponder the move.
 
Even with Franco and Joseph hitting home runs, the Phillies didn’t have enough to match the Tigers’ thunder.
 
Miguel Cabrera belted two home runs and in the seventh inning clubbed his 500th career double. He then came around to score the go-ahead run on a single by Victor Martinez.
 
Entering the game, the Tigers were among the top teams in the American League in batting average (.265), runs per game (4.60), homers (56) and OPS (.758).
 
Meanwhile, the Phillies couldn’t get much lower in offense. They ranked near the bottom in the National League in batting average (.233), runs per game (3.23), homers (32) and OPS (.651).
 
“You look up and down their lineup on the scoreboard and it looks like everybody is hitting .300 with eight or 10 home runs,” Mackanin said. “It can be daunting.
 
“The middle of their lineup hurt us with the long ball. We knew they were swinging the bats well lately. They weren’t earlier. Now they’re swinging well and we couldn’t contain them.
 
“We got 12 hits of our own. But they’ve got a lot of power on that team.”
 
The Phillies are at the start of a challenging trip — three in Detroit followed by three against the Cubs in Wrigley Field. The Cubs have the majors’ best record. The Phillies, a surprising four games over .500, will be tested on this trip.
 
They did not pass the first test. Velasquez had trouble commanding his pitches and for the second straight start ran a high pitch count. He took a 3-1 lead to the mound in the fifth, but it evaporated quickly under the weight of homers by J.D. Martinez and Cabrera. Reliever Colton Murray also gave up a homer in the inning. He also allowed the go-ahead run in the seventh as Mackanin held David Hernandez back in case the Phils got a lead.
 
“Velasquez didn’t have any command of his secondary pitches, pretty basic stuff, and he left some fastballs over the plate,” Mackanin said. “You have to throw quality pitches to a lineup like this. If you make mistakes against them, they don’t miss. If you don’t command your secondary pitches against good hitters, they become like sharks and smell blood and hit the fastball.”
 
Velasquez said he should have gotten the loss, not Murray.
 
“You can’t shy away from hitters and I did that,” he said. “You’ve got to pitch inside. I pitched around them.
 
“I’ve got to do something about this. I’ve got to challenge hitters.”

With game on the line, Pete Mackanin benches his best player for lack of hustle

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With game on the line, Pete Mackanin benches his best player for lack of hustle

BOX SCORE

DETROIT — Phillies manager Pete Mackanin made a strong statement Monday night when he benched his best hitter in the seventh inning of a tie game.
 
With Odubel Herrera on the bench for the final innings, the Phillies went on to lose, 5-4, to the Detroit Tigers (see Instant Replay).
 
Mackanin did not regret his decision to yank Herrera and his team-high .335 batting average from the game.
 
“It’s important to me to set that tone,” Mackanin said. “When you don’t hustle, I’ve got a problem.”
 
Herrera had singled in each of his first three at-bats. He drove in the Phillies’ first run with a hit in the third inning.
 
But when he bounced back to the pitcher and took his time getting to first base in the seventh, Mackanin abruptly pulled him. Even Ryan Howard said something to Herrera in the dugout.
 
“He didn’t run,” Mackanin said. “One of the ingredients to our success to this point is the fact that guys play with energy and they play hard. We’re training them to play the game the right way and not running is not the right way.”
 
Herrera said he did not run because he was “frustrated” and “angry” with the at-bat. He said Tigers reliever Justin Wilson “got in his head” by varying his delivery times. Herrera even mentioned that Wilson quick-pitched him.
 
“The pitcher was playing with me,” he said. “I have to learn from it. I didn’t think [Mackanin] was going to bench me, but I understand why. I can’t argue. I was frustrated. I respect the decision. I know that I did wrong. I have to learn from my mistakes and it won’t happen again.”
 
Mackanin is a huge fan of Herrera. He has predicted the 24-year-old Venezuelan will someday win a batting title.
 
But Mackanin indicated after Monday night’s game that Herrera might be developing some bad habits — at least when it comes to the hustle that Mackanin values. The front office values it, too. Playing with “energy” is something the front office frequently says it wants to see, and the ability to get his players to play with energy is one of Mackanin’s strengths.
 
“I’ve seen it in the past and it’s been trickling in,” Mackanin said of Herrera’s occasional lapses in hustle. “I didn’t like it and I made the decision. He knows he should have run.”
 
Jonathan Papelbon put a chokehold on Bryce Harper’s neck last year in Washington for a similar transgression.
 
In the Phillies’ dugout Monday night, Herrera got a little talking-to from Howard.
 
“That was great to see,” Mackanin said.
 
Said Howard: “Doobie's got a lot of promise. He’s going to be around this game for a long time. He makes things happen. He brings energy to the game.
 
“The pitcher lost the grip and had to double-pump. If you’re running hard, maybe he makes a bad throw and you’re on base.
 
“I just told him, ‘You’ve got to keep going. I know it’s not the at-bat you wanted, but look at me, bro, I’m still out there grinding.’ If he’s running there, the pitcher could throw it away and he could be on second and we could squeeze a run out.”
 
Howard went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts to fall to .156 on the season. He is 4 for 48 (.083) in the month of May (see story).
 
Mackanin said his message to Herrera was complete. Herrera will be back in the starting lineup on Tuesday night.

Best of MLB: Cardinals top Cubs on Randal Grichuck's walk-off HR

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Best of MLB: Cardinals top Cubs on Randal Grichuck's walk-off HR

ST. LOUIS -- Randal Grichuck hit a tiebreaking solo homer in the ninth to lift the St. Louis Cardinals a 4-3 win over the Chicago Cubs on Monday night.

Matt Adams tied the score with a two-run homer off in the seventh for St. Louis' major league-leading ninth pinch-hit homer of the season. It also ended a streak of 13 innings of one-run pitching by Chicago starter John Lackey against his former team.

Grichuk drove a 2-2 pitch off of Adam Warren (3-1) for the win.

Trevor Rosenthal (2-1) pitched a scoreless ninth.

The Cubs' Ben Zobrist had three singles and a walk, extending his streak to 29 starts with reaching safely. He is hitting .387 during that span (see full recap).

Mets ride power surge to win over Nationals
WASHINGTON -- David Wright, Yoenis Cespedes and Neil Walker homered on the day Mets slugger Lucas Duda went on the disabled list, leading New York past the Washington Nationals 7-1 Monday night.

Pitching on the eve of his 43rd birthday, Bartolo Colon (4-3) allowed one run and five hits in seven efficient innings. Baseball's oldest player struck out two and walked two.

With Duda out at least four to six weeks with a stress fracture in his lower back, Mets manager Terry Collins acknowledged it will take a committee approach to replace his power. Point taken, as Wright hit a three-run shot off Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez (3-2) during a five-run third inning, and Cespedes and Walker went back-to-back in the fifth.

Asdrubal Cabrera also drove in a run with the Mets' fifth consecutive hit in the third, and fill-in first baseman Eric Campbell produced another with a sacrifice fly (see full recap).

Vogelsong carted off in Pirates' victory
PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Pirates starter Ryan Vogelsong was carted off the field after getting struck in the head by a pitch in the second inning of a 6-3 win over the Colorado Rockies on Monday.

With the bases loaded and Pittsburgh leading 1-0, Rockies starter Jordan Lyles (1-2) hit Vogelsong in the left cheek with a 92 mph fastball. Vogelson was making his second start of the season, filling in because of a rainout Sunday.

The Pirates later said he was admitted to the hospital for injuries to his left eye. Vogelsong was replaced by Wilfredo Boscan (1-0), who got the win in relief.

The Pirates took an early lead on Lyles and never looked back. Besides hitting Vogelsong, the right-hander walked three, allowed two stolen bases, threw a wild pitch and gave up six runs over 2 1/3 innings (see full recap).