Rollins after loss: 'Don't waste your time, guys'

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Rollins after loss: 'Don't waste your time, guys'

There really isnt much anyone can say about the Phillies latest loss or the way the first half to the 2012 season has unfolded. Nevertheless, it would have been nice to hear from a team leader following the Phillies 4-3 loss to the Braves at the Bank on Sunday afternoon.

But Ryan Howard and Chase Utley were nowhere to be found near their lockers. Presumably, the pair of former All-Stars were getting treatment for the injuries that kept them out of the lineup for most of the season. And when Jimmy Rollins slowly dressed and sauntered out of the clubhouse after his latest 0 for 4, all he had for the press was a few pithy words.

Dont waste your time, guys, the longest tenured Phillie said as he exited the room.

Perhaps thats the working title for the 2012 Phillies highlight video?

Again, there isnt anything that can be said about the state of the Phillies to make it any less harrowing. Sundays loss was the Phillies fourth in a row, 10th in their last 11 games and 25th defeat since June 1. It also sent them into the All-Star break with their worst record (37-50) since 1997 when they were 24-61 and with their largest deficit in the NL East (14 games) since 2002 when they trailed by 16 games.

Last year when the Phillies won a franchise record 102 games they didnt lose their 50th game until Sept. 12. This year they got there before the All-Star game.

Its kind of wearing on me, but we just dont play good enough to win, manager Charlie Manuel said. In most of our games we get to a point and something happens. We dont execute and we make mistakes and we lose the game. We dont play well enough to win. We dont beat people.

Afterwards in the quiet clubhouse where All-Stars Cole Hamels, Carlos Ruiz and Jonathan Paplebon quietly gathered their gear for the trip to Kansas City, guys like Jason Pridie and Vance Worley were left to handle the media. Pridie was the teams lone bright spot at the plate, going 2 for 3 with all three RBIs with two coming on a homer in the second inning. Pridie got the start after Shane Victorino was a late scratch.

You just have to stay ready, said Pridie, who has appeared in four games for the Phillies this season and 116 big league games going back to 2008. I was in the cage when they came to tell me I was starting in center field, so I was just trying to stay ready.

Batting just .245, Victorino got the day off when Manuel went over to chat with him before the game. Victorino was down and feeling badly with the way things had been going so the manager decided to give him his first day off of the season. It was more of a mental-health break than anything, Manuel said.

Still, Pridies pair of extra-base hits in the game are more than Victorino has had in a month. A day off seemed long overdue.

Hes going through a tough time, Manuel said about Victorino.

Meanwhile, it wasnt like the Braves piled up the runs against Worley. Instead, after six innings and 104 pitches, Worley turned a tied game over to the bullpen in the seventh. From there, all it took was one swing and the Phillies renewed the tried-and-true theme of the 2012 season when reliever Raul Valdes gave up a two-out, two-strike home run to Phillie-killer Brian McCann. Because the Phillies offense shut it down after Pridies fourth-inning double, getting just one more hit the rest of the game, McCanns blast was more than enough.

Afterwards, Manuel was asked to come up with new ways to describe the tired, old story. Another game, another brief rise from the offense followed by a weak spot in the bullpen game over. Now Manuel was asked to ponder if its game over for the 2012 season. Trailing the Nationals by 15 games in the NL East and the Braves by 10 games for the second wild-card spot, the Phillies run of five straight trips to the playoffs is hanging by a thread. Even the chronically optimistic Manuel allowed that it was going to be difficult for the Phillies to catch up in the standings.

Difficult, Manuel said, but not impossible.

I believe we still have a chance, Manuel said. Ill always believe because thats the way you have to go about it. You have to try hard enough and put forth the effort. Ive seen it done before, but its going to be hard. Its going to be difficult. We would probably have to play the best baseball that we ever played.

Still, its been so long since the Phillies have been this bad that folks, spoiled from an unprecedented era of success from the Phillies, almost dont know how to handle it. For a team to struggle in a little more than three months while facing injuries from key players like Howard, Utley, Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Jose Contreras, Freddy Galvis, Jim Thome, Mike Stutes, Justin DeFratus, Placido Polanco, Laynce Nix and Worley is understandable and probably expected.

But could a season like this cost the manager his job? After the game Manuel asked if he was concerned about his job.

How concerned am I? Ive got a lot of confidence in myself, Manuel said. I am a fighter. And not only that, I think Im a winner.

Manuel, the all-time leader in managerial wins and one of just three men to win a World Series as the manager of a Philadelphia-based major league baseball team, signed a three-year contract extension prior to the 2011 season. Hes never won fewer than 85 games with the Phillies and never finished lower than second place.

Ive been a winner ever since Ive been in the game, Manuel said. Ive got a lot of confidence. Ill do my job as hard as possibly can ... and thats all I can do. The rest is out of my control.

The Phillies are off until Friday when they start the second half in Colorado with Lee and his one win on the mound. Worley says the team is looking forward to the break so it can regroup and clear its heads before the stretch run approaches.

Needless to say, the Phillies will find out quickly if its worth it. There will be an answer very soon if it will be worth the time for the Phillies.

Dont waste your time, guys

E-mail John Finger at jfinger@comcastsportsnet.com.

Pete Mackanin: Like Chicago Italian beef, Freddy Galvis is the best

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Pete Mackanin: Like Chicago Italian beef, Freddy Galvis is the best

CHICAGO – Other than the Italian beef sandwiches from Portillo’s that he loves so much, Pete Mackanin hasn’t had much to feel good about during his trip to his hometown.
 
Mackanin’s rebuilding Phillies have been bulldozed by the powerful Chicago Cubs two days in a row (see game story) and have lost four of five games on a road trip that ends with one more in Wrigley Field on Sunday afternoon.
 
As difficult as it was to see his club get roughed up on Saturday, Mackanin was able to find a sliver of something good in the rubble of a 4-1 defeat.
 
“The highlight of the day was Freddy Galvis -- all day,” Mackanin said.
 
Mackanin listed all the things his 26-year-old shortstop did, from a tremendous relay throw to the plate to stop a run from scoring, to his two hustle plays that led to the Phillies’ only run in the ninth.
 
Galvis, who made several outstanding plays in the field on Friday, vowed to cut down on his errors after making 17 last season. He has just one in 48 games this season and Mackanin is more than impressed with the improvement.
 
“He’s making every play there is,” Mackanin said. “To me, if he’s not the best shortstop in the league, I’d like to see the guy that’s playing as consistent defense as he is.
 
“I’m thrilled with the way he’s playing. He’s playing hard and kind of taken a leadership role just with the way he goes about his business.”
 
Galvis has improved his defense by committing himself to concentrating for 27 outs and not getting careless on routine plays.
 
“I’ve been working with Larry Bowa on trying to set my feet and make the routine plays,” he said. “Don’t try to do too much. Just throw the ball, catch the ball and that’s it. So far, so good.”
 
Mackanin has made it clear that he expects his players to play hard and hustle. He made a huge statement to that effect when he benched his best player, Odubel Herrera, for not running out a ground ball in Detroit on Monday night.
 
So it was not surprising to see Mackanin heap praise on Galvis for his hustle in the top of ninth inning Saturday.
 
Galvis led off the inning with a pop up to right field. Outfielder Jason Heyward and second baseman Ben Zobrist got their signals crossed and the ball fell in. Galvis, running hard the whole way, ended up on second with a fluke double.
 
“That was huge the way he ran that out,” Mackanin said.
 
Galvis then moved to third on a ground ball and scored the Phillies’ only run on a risky base running play. Ryan Howard whiffed on a dropped third strike. As catcher Miguel Montero threw to first to complete the out, Galvis sprinted down the line and slid safely into home. He was able to get a huge jump because the Cubs shifted Howard and left third uncovered. Had Galvis been out at the plate, the game would have been over and it would have gone down as a bad play. But he made it and Mackanin loved it. 
 
“He hustled on a routine fly ball that turned into a double, advanced and scored on the throw to first after the strikeout – it made my whole day,” Mackanin said. “It burnt the shutout. I like to see a guy like that play with that kind of energy.”
 
Earlier in the game, Galvis was hit by a pitch on the right ankle. The pitch got him good and he hobbled to first base. But his dash for home in the ninth inning proved he was OK. Still, he wore an ice pack on the leg after the game. It was a noticeable enough ice pack that Galvis had to be asked whether he expected to play on Sunday.
 
“(Bleep) yeah,” he said.

Once again, Phillies can't measure up to rampaging Cubs

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Once again, Phillies can't measure up to rampaging Cubs

CHICAGO –- For those who called this a measuring stick series, well, you’re going to need a bigger ruler.

The Phillies are still miles upon miles from being able to match up consistently with baseball’s elite clubs.

They’ve encountered one of them the last two days and the results haven’t been pretty: Two losses to the Chicago Cubs by a combined score of 10-3. The Cubbies have pounded nine extra-base hits in the two games and four have been home runs. The Phillies have just three extra-base hits, all doubles, and one was a pop-up that dropped in because of a communication breakdown in the Cubs’ outfield.

Saturday’s 4-1 loss was the Phillies’ sixth defeat in the last eight games and fourth in five games on this challenging trip that started in Detroit (see Instant Replay). Like the Cubs, the Tigers can mash the baseball. The Phillies can’t and it’s catching up with them. They are averaging just 3.22 runs per game, second-worst in baseball. Saturday’s loss marked the 18th time they’ve been held to two or fewer runs in their 49 games. It’s a tribute to their pitching that they’re still three games over .500.

Something must be done to spark the offense. Management has basically said it wants to take more time to evaluate the team and its place in the standings before it decides whether to pursue a bat in the trade market. And even if club officials decide to pursue a bat, they won’t compromise the rebuild — i.e. trade away the prospects it has worked to accumulate — to get one.

So what you’re looking at in the short-term is more of Tommy Joseph — that’s a move that has to be made as Ryan Howard is down to a .154 batting average— and maybe Cody Asche, who could join the club during the coming homestand.

Not too long ago, the Cubs were a rebuilding team, just like these Phillies. Now, they are baseball’s best club, leading the majors with 33 wins and outscoring opponents by 126 runs. (The Phillies, by the way, have a run differential of minus-38.) The Cubs have one goal for this season: Snap their 108-year World Series drought. Anything less will be a disappointment.

There’s more to this Cubs team than offense, though. The Phillies have seen that over the last two days. Jon Lester and Kyle Hendricks, the Cubs two starting pitchers, have allowed just two earned runs in 15 1/3 innings.

Hendricks came within one out of a shutout Saturday. The right-hander was not overpowering, but he threw a lot of strikes and the Phillies did nothing with them. He scattered five hits, did not walk a batter and struck out seven. The middle of the Phillies' order — Maikel Franco, Howard and Cameron Rupp — went 0 for 12 with four strikeouts.

Manager Pete Mackanin tipped his hat to Hendricks.

Sort of.

“Let me say this,” Mackanin said. “I don’t want to take anything away from Hendricks because he’s a damn good pitcher and I like him a lot, but I feel like we took pitches we should have hit and we swung at pitches we shouldn’t have swung at. He gave us just enough, not a lot, but just enough, pitches out over the plate to hit and we didn’t capitalize. We took too many pitches that were hittable. That being said, I really like the kid. But I think we should have been more aggressive early in the count.”

Why weren’t the Phils more aggressive?

“Who knows?” Mackanin said. “They just didn’t look aggressive at the plate.”

The Cubs, in turn, were aggressive. They came out of the gate pounding baseballs. Leadoff man Dexter Fowler homered in the first inning against Jerad Eickhoff and Jason Heyward and Ben Zobrist both had doubles as the Cubs took an early 2-0 lead.

Eickhoff got better and gave the club six innings, but the bats couldn’t bail him out.

“Eickhoff started off real shaky and didn’t show command,” Mackanin said. “The ball was up in the zone and it looked like it might get ugly when they scored early. But after the second inning, he settled down and pitched well, the way we’ve seen him pitch, using all his pitches.”

Said Eickhoff: “They’re a good team, but all good teams can be manipulated and controlled. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to do that.”

Vince Velasquez gets a chance to try to control the rampaging Cubs on Sunday.

More MLB Notes: First baseman James Loney traded from Padres to Mets

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More MLB Notes: First baseman James Loney traded from Padres to Mets

NEW YORK -- The Mets have found help at first base following Lucas Duda's injury, acquiring veteran James Loney from the San Diego Padres for cash.

Loney has spent this season in the minors, playing well for Triple-A El Paso. He was batting .342 with two home runs and 28 RBIs over 43 games in the Pacific Coast League.

Always a fine fielder, the 32-year-old Loney hit .280 with four homers, 16 doubles and 32 RBIs in 104 games with Tampa Bay last year. The Rays released him April 3 and he signed with the Padres on April 8.

Duda was put on the disabled list Monday with a stress fracture in his lower back that is expected to sideline him at least four to six weeks, probably longer.

Until Duda returns, Mets manager Terry Collins says Loney, a left-handed hitter, will mostly face right-handed pitching in a first-base platoon with Wilmer Flores and Eric Campbell. Flores is close to returning from a strained hamstring.

In a corresponding move Saturday, the team selected the contract of right-hander Casey Fien from its top farm club.

Dodgers send lefty Urias back to minors after brief debut
NEW YORK -- Following a brief major league debut, the Los Angeles Dodgers have optioned 19-year-old pitching prospect Julio Urias back to Triple-A Oklahoma City.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts says the team wanted another arm in the bullpen after Urias lasted only 2 2/3 innings Friday night. Los Angeles used five relievers in a 6-5 loss to the New York Mets.

Urias, one of baseball's top prospects, threw 42 of 81 pitches for strikes at Citi Field in a much-anticipated big league debut that lasted 59 minutes. He became the first teenage pitcher to start a game in the majors since Seattle's Felix Hernandez in 2005.

The left-hander gave up three runs, five hits and four walks while striking out three. He was on the hook for a loss until Los Angeles rallied for four runs in the ninth to tie the score (see full story).

Royals: Catcher Perez hurt, helped from field
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez had to be helped off the field in the ninth inning Saturday against the Chicago White Sox after colliding with rookie third baseman Cheslor Cuthbert while catching Adam Eaton's foul popup.

Cuthbert came sliding in and struck Perez's lower legs. Perez went down in pain as trainer Nick Kenney and manager Ned Yost rushed to the field.

Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas and left fielder Alex Gordon collided Sunday while chasing a foul ball at Chicago and both landed on the disabled list. Gordon has a broken right wrist and is out for three to four weeks, while Moustakas tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee and is likely out for the season.

Drew Butera replaced Perez.

Cardinals: Matt Carpenter activated from paternity list
WASHINGTON -- Third baseman Matt Carpenter has been activated from the paternity list by the St. Louis Cardinals.

Carpenter missed two games after being placed on the paternity list Thursday. His wife gave birth to the couple's first child, a girl, on Wednesday.

Carpenter leads the Cardinals with nine home runs and 32 RBIs.

To make room for Carpenter on the 25-man roster, St. Louis designated infielder Ruben Tejada for assignment on Saturday. Tejada was batting .176 over 23 games with no homers and three RBIs.

If Tejada is released, St. Louis would be responsible for the remainder of his $1.5 million salary this year, which was $1,049,180 entering Saturday.