Wolf will return briefly - and willingly - to the bullpen

Posted: August 03, 2001

DENVER — Randy Wolf, fresh off his first win as a starting pitcher since May 23, is being sent back to the Phillies' bullpen.

This time, the move will be even more temporary than last time, and Wolf is not at all disturbed by it.

"If they need me in there for an inning or a hitter and I can help us win the game, that's fine," he said yesterday, less than 12 hours after his rain-shortened, complete-game victory Wednesday night against the Colorado Rockies.

"You can't stress enough that we're in a pennant race and this is the time we need every game."

Wolf's trip to the pen will be for two games beginning tonight in San Francisco, and it is necessitated by the absence of lefthander Dennis Cook from the team. Manager Larry Bowa said that Cook probably would remain at his home in Texas for the duration of this road trip. Cook is tending to a serious personal matter, Bowa said.

"Wolf's side day is [today] or [tomorrow], and rather than throw him, we'll try to keep him down in the pen," Bowa said. "He should be all right to pitch again [as a starter] Tuesday."

In four starts since returning to the rotation after a brief and unwanted three-game trip to the bullpen, Wolf has been better than solid, compiling a 3.24 ERA. He followed a two-hit, one-run, six-inning effort against the New York Mets last week with his 8-1 win over the Rockies on Wednesday.

Colorado managed just four hits in six innings against Wolf, who has walked just three batters in 25 innings since returning to the rotation.

Though Wolf didn't welcome his last trip to the bullpen, he said that it helped him turn around his season.

"I think it all started out of the bullpen during that [July 5] game in Atlanta," he said. "This game is so much mental, but the physical part can help the mental part. And I just figured out that night that my body wasn't in the right position to get the ball where I wanted it."

Since his four-inning relief effort in Atlanta, Wolf has allowed just 21 hits and given up only 10 earned runs in 31 innings for a 2.90 ERA.

"That was a reluctant time in my life, but I was able to work on some things and make some corrections, and it has helped," Wolf said. "I also did something I had never done before: When I knew my mechanics were right where they were supposed to be, I wrote it down so I could also look back at what I needed to do."

Up next. The Phillies will open a three-game series tonight against a Giants team that has won eight games in a row. The Giants have beaten the Phillies 11 straight times in San Francisco - a streak that began after Curt Schilling beat them at 3Com Park on Aug. 30, 1998. The next day, the Giants won, 6-2. Jose Mesa, now the Phillies' closer, was the winning pitcher, and Wayne Gomes, traded to San Francisco last week, was the loser.

This weekend will be a homecoming for a large contingent of Phillies. Among the Phils who grew up in and around the San Francisco area are Pat Burrell, Jimmy Rollins, Johnny Estrada and Kevin Jordan. Bowa grew up in Sacramento, Calif., where his sister, Paula, still lives. He said that she would attend the three games.

Scheduled pitching matchups for the three-game series: the Phils' Omar Daal (10-3, 4.52) vs. the Giants' Russ Ortiz (12-6, 3.42) tonight; Nelson Figueroa (2-2, 2.72) vs. Shawn Estes (8-5, 3.33) tomorrow; and Robert Person (9-5, 4.62) vs. Livan Hernandez (9-11, 5.86) on Sunday.

Anderson returns. Second baseman Marlon Anderson was a pinch-hitter in the ninth inning of yesterday's 4-2 Phillies victory over the Rockies, lining a single against reliever Jay Powell before being removed for a pinch-runner.

The appearance was Anderson's first since he suffered a strained left hamstring in a July 26 game against the New York Mets at Shea Stadium.

Bowa said that Anderson probably would return to the lineup tonight.

Bob Brookover's e-mail address is bbrookover@phillynews.com.

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