Bank Statement Lee named likely Game 1 starter as rotation takes shape

Posted: October 24, 2009

For the first time since late February, the Phillies have six days without a baseball game. But the players must remain sharp while management considers several important decisions before the World Series begins Wednesday.

Before the team's two-hour workout at Citizens Bank Park yesterday, manager Charlie Manuel, general manager Ruben Amaro Jr., and other staff members sat for the first of many meetings. Among the most pressing decisions: how to configure the starting rotation, whether to include Brett Myers on the roster, and how to be productive with all the time off.

On the first point, Cliff Lee, the ace in the division series and National League Championship Series, likely will start Game 1, Manuel said yesterday. Beyond that, Cole Hamels and Pedro Martinez appear sure to receive starting assignments, although the order is unknown.

Righthander Joe Blanton and lefthander J.A. Happ probably will begin the Series pitching from the bullpen, as they did in the first two rounds, Manuel said.

Manuel also said he would be willing to use Lee on three days' rest if necessary, and Lee later expressed a willingness to pitch under such circumstances.

The manager added that "we're going to use Pedro. I look at Pedro as a starter. He's been in the big moment, and I think that his performance the other day in Dodger Stadium, how good he pitched, he deserves another chance to go back out there.

"Once he can get in the rotation and get on a regular turn every five days, I think he's still got quite a bit left."

Later, Amaro weighed his choices for constructing a roster and praised Myers. The righthander made a September return from June hip surgery, but strained an upper-back muscle late last month. Included on the division series roster, he made one ineffective appearance, and was dropped for the league championship series.

Myers pitched in a simulated game on Tuesday and impressed Amaro.

"His stuff is sharper," the general manager said. "His breaking ball is better. He's pretty crisp with his location. He's throwing better. That's a good sign."

The team apparently believes that Myers can contribute, although his status will be determined by the number of pitchers and position players the Phils choose to carry.

"It depends on whether we go with 12 pitchers or not," Amaro said, adding that the team had 11 for the league championship series. "If we go to 12, it'll certainly be something we have to consider."

With the American League enjoying the home-field advantage in the World Series, the Phillies will not need as many pinch-hitters. So they could carry an extra pitcher rather than a bench player.

The American League park also will create the need for a designated hitter, and Manuel indicated that he probably would use Raul Ibanez in that role, with Ben Francisco starting in left field.

"I've thought about that, yes," Manuel said when asked about the scenario.

While the decision makers discuss these matters, the players will try to strike a balance between work and rest. They will not work out today, and will take part in a simulated game tomorrow afternoon at Citizens Bank Park.

"That will be good," Ryan Howard said of the simulated game, which allows the team to face live pitching rather than be restricted to batting practice. "It will allow us to try and stay in that competitive mode."

Howard, named the most valuable player of the league championship series, also said he and his teammates would savor the downtime.

"You get to sleep," he said. "You get to relax. You just try and make the best of it."

Jimmy Rollins was skeptical that a few days would be sufficient to recover from an entire season.

"We play so many games that it's hard to get rested at this point," the shortstop said.

Most of the Phillies have followed the American League Championship Series, between the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Angels, both for entertainment and to scout their next opponent.

Players were diplomatic when asked whom they would rather face.

"It seems like the Yankees make you throw a ton of pitches and have a lot of power," closer Brad Lidge said. "But it seems like the Angels have great contact hitters."

Amaro dispatched about a half-dozen scouts to the series, and said he hoped for a quick resolution - implying that he was pulling for the Yankees, who lead it, three games to two.

"I personally don't like to travel a whole lot," he said. "I would like to see it get over with so we can know who our opponent is and move on."

Martinez returning? Amaro said he and his staff already had met on off-season decisions and would consider retaining Martinez.

"I don't think Pedro has done anything to push us away from it," Amaro said.

Any team considering Martinez will have to weigh his strong performances against the multiple injuries he suffered in less than half a season.

Martinez, 37, could seek a multiyear contract. One person familiar with the Phillies' thinking said the team might not rule out offering a contract of more than one year if it were laden with incentives based on performance and appearances.

Contact staff writer Andy Martino at 215-854-4874 or amartino@phillynews.com.

|
|
|
|
|