CINCINNATI Joe Blanton hasnt given up his hope of helping the Phillies in the bullpen in the postseason, and the club is curious to see if hell be able to do it.
Thats why Blanton will make a couple of minor-league starts in the coming days. The righthander, out since mid-May with an injured elbow, will pitch an inning for Single A Lakewood at Hagerstown on Friday. If that goes well, hell make another minor-league appearance on Monday.
Hes doing fine, pitching coach Rich Dubee said. At this point he needs to go out and see what it feels like against hitters.
Blanton has been diagnosed with a nerve problem in the elbow. He may need offseason surgery.
New kid in town
John Bowker, acquired from Pittsburgh on Tuesday night, was in uniform for Wednesday nights game against the Reds -- the Phillies' 19th shutout of the season. Bowker, 28, is a left-handed hitter who can play the corner outfield spots and first base. The Phillies view him primarily as a bat off the bench. He will basically have a month to earn a spot on the postseason roster. Ross Gload, the teams primary lefty bat off the bench, entered Wednesday with just three hits in his previous 29 at-bats and he has been slowed by a hip injury.
Manager Charlie Manuel said the addition of Bowker does not mean that Gloads days are numbered.
I have confidence in Gload, he said. He just needs to get some at-bats to get his timing back. Having two left-handed bats definitely helps us. Well see how it goes. Were going to need some hitters in the playoffs.
Bowker, who has big-league time with San Francisco and the Pirates, had been playing for Pittsburghs Triple A club in Indianapolis, where he hit .306 with 15 homers and 76 RBIs in 106 games. He hit just .235 in 19 games with the Pirates this season, but has a lifetime big-league pinch-hitting mark of .301 (22 for 73) with four doubles, two triples and a homer.
The Phillies will send cash or a player to be named to Pittsburgh to complete the deal. Indications are it will likely end up a cash deal.
General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. was asked why he picked up Bowker.
Because he can hit, Amaro said. Our scouts have seen him for a while on regular coverage. All our reports say he is a good role player, a good bat off the bench, he can jump on a fastball, and hes not a liability in the field.
Bowker got news of the trade Tuesday night after a 12-inning game in Indianapolis, which is about a two-hour drive from Cincinnati.
It was just kind of a shock, he said. I went into the managers office thinking maybe I got called up to Pittsburgh and they said, No, youre going to the big leagues, but not with us, with the Phillies.
Its awesome. Ill do whatever is asked of me. I can pinch-hit coming off the bench. Ive done a lot of that in the past. Whatever they want.
The addition of Bowker could be an indication that the Phillies do not plan to call up a left-handed hitter such as Domonic Brown when the Triple A season ends on Sept. 6.
I dont think we need another left-handed bat, Amaro said. But we havent made up our mind yet. Well see.
Brown has struggled offensively and defensively since his demotion to Triple A in late July. He was out of the lineup on Wednesday night due to flu-like symptoms.
Hes had some adversity for the first time in his career, Amaro said. Its just a matter of dealing with it. Growing pains. It happens. You have to deal with it.
E-mail Jim Salisbury at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @JSalisburyCSN.