The Phillies made it official and announced the promotions of Jake Diekman, Raul Valdes and Hector Luna from Triple A Lehigh Valley. Diekman and Valdes are lefthanded relievers. Luna is a utility corner infielder who can also play some left field.
Valdes, 34, and Luna, 32, both have time in the majors.
This is Diekmans first trip to the majors and he earned it with a strong showing at Lehigh Valley, where he allowed just one run in 15 13 innings while striking out 22 and walking only three.
Diekman, a 25-year-old Nebraskan, was a 30th round draft pick out of Cloud County Community College in Kansas in 2007. He was a pedestrian starter until minor-league pitching coaches Bob Milacki and Gorman Heimueller suggested he move to the bullpen and lower his delivery to sidearm. Diekman made the changes before for the 2010 season and turned into a prospect.
Now hes in the big leagues.
Its surreal, he said standing in the Phillies clubhouse Friday afternoon. Two years ago I didnt think this would happen. I dont know if Ill feel anything the first time I run in from the bullpen.
Moving to the bullpen gave Diekmans fastball a little extra kick -- he can hit 95 mph -- and the lowered arm angle added deception. With Diekman, Valdes and Antonio Bastardo, Charlie Manuel now has three lefties in his pen. Diekman will likely be used as a situational guy, but could eventually be a full-inning guy if he makes a good showing. Phillies officials are eager to see if he can make a difference in the bullpen, which has coughed up a bunch of leads lately and entered Friday with a 5.47 ERA, worst in the majors.
Diekman became emotional Friday when he spoke of calling his father, Paul, at home in Nebraska with news of his promotion. Paul made the trip to Philadelphia for the weekend series against the Padres.
The Phils opened space on their 40-man roster by sending reliever Brian Sanches outright to Triple A. Sanches cleared waivers. The Phils transferred reliever Justin De Fratus from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day DL.
First basemanoutfielder Laynce Nix was placed on the 15-day DL with a calf strain.
Chase Utley did some sprinting in the outfield Friday afternoon and took batting practice, but still has not taken ground balls on the field. There is no timetable for him to report to Clearwater to play in minor-league games. Utley will take ground balls on the field when he feels his knees are ready, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said.
Ryan Howard is taking some light batting practice in Clearwater as he continues to rehab from a torn Achilles and a subsequent infection.
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