WASHINGTON By all accounts, it was a pretty good day for Phillies lefty Cole Hamels at Nationals Park on Saturday afternoon.
In fact, Hamels threw a light bullpen session under the watchful two eyes of pitching coach Rich Dubee and then adjourned back to the visitors clubhouse to relax and read a book and then declared to the local press that he likely will make his return to the rotation next Friday night at Citizens Bank Park when the Phillies play the Marlins.
Hamels had been scheduled to start on Friday night, but was skipped in the rotation when an MRI revealed a little inflammation in his left shoulder. After a light workout Saturday, Hamels will throw again early next week before his return to the mound.
Its good, especially when something is kinda bothering him and something is wrong, manager Charlie Manuel said. When we can back him off and correct it, well get him well and keep him going.
Meanwhile, Dubee said the Phillies pitching lineup for the next week against the Mets and Marlins shapes up like this:
Monday: Cliff Lee vs. Jonathon Niese
Tuesday: Vance Worley vs. Dillon Gee
Wednesday: TBA (Kyle Kendrick) vs. Mike Pelfrey
Saturday: Roy Oswalt
Sunday: Roy Halladay
Thursdays penultimate off day allows the a bit of extra rest for the Phillies hurlers, which is what Dubee favors. After all, it was just last week when the pitching coach had been batting around the idea of using a six-man rotation in order to get his pitchers a little less wear and tear with the postseason just around the corner.
Meanwhile, Manuel and Dubee said Worley will be available out of the bullpen on Saturday night. Because of the two long rain delays on Thursday and Friday night, which limited Worleys outing to just three innings and forced Oswalt to abandon his, the Phils need an extra arm for Saturday nights game. After all, Ryan Madson will not be available Saturday night following three straight games of work where he tallied 72 pitches.
Mayberry vs. lefties
Manuel doesnt want to call his left-field platoon with Raul Ibanez and John Mayberry a platoon, but that might just be semantics. Considering that Mayberry has started in eight out of the last nine games the Phillies faced a left-handed starter, Manuel could be operating a platoon.
Its not really a platoon, Manuel said. I think that John has been playing real good and it is a place to get him some time. Shane Victorino's suspension got him some time in centerfield. I think Raul, when hes swinging the bat good and playing good, is still our regular leftfielder.
Ibanez went 0 for 4 with a strikeout in Friday nights loss and is batting just .151 with a .193 on-base percentage in 14 games during August. Contrarily, Mayberry is batting .321 with an .861 slugging percentage thanks to four homers and a triple in 11 games during August.
In other words, Manuel is riding the hot hand, though, interestingly enough, Mayberry is hitting better against right-handed pitchers (.267) than he is against lefties (.257).
I wanted to get John in the game, but at the same time we have a day game Sunday, Manuel said. I figured that Raul would be in for the righty. The last couple days, weve been at the ballpark for a long time and I thought with Mayberry playing good, give him a start.
Contreras pushed back
Reliever Jose Contreras, who was expected to throw a bullpen session on Saturday afternoon, had a setback, according to Manuel. However, Dubee said Contreras was pushed back to Monday because he wasnt ready to throw.
Either way, time is getting short for a return for the veteran right-hander. Out since June 19 with an elbow injury, Contreras has a lot of checkpoints to cross before he pitches in a big league game.
E-mail John R. Finger at email@example.com