Phillies Notes: Phillies face tough call at shortstop

Wilson Valdez was sent to the minors the last time Jimmy Rollins returned, but he has outhit Juan Castro recently.
Wilson Valdez was sent to the minors the last time Jimmy Rollins returned, but he has outhit Juan Castro recently.
Posted: June 21, 2010

Wilson Valdez waited six years for his second career home run. It took only four at-bats for his third home run.

"I got lucky again," he said.

Valdez provided the only offense for the Phillies in a 4-1 loss Sunday, hitting a home run in back-to-back games for the first time in his career. He's started the last five games at shortstop and has received the majority of playing time at short in Jimmy Rollins' absence.

So the Phillies face an interesting decision this week when presumably Rollins (strained right calf) returns to the lineup: keep Valdez or Juan Castro?

"Any decision is tough," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said.

A Phillies official said Rollins was flying back to Philadelphia on Sunday from Clearwater, Fla., and will be evaluated by team doctors Monday. Manuel said he expects to have Rollins sometime during the series against Cleveland, which begins Tuesday.

The Phillies likely would not keep both Valdez and Castro because they are similar types of players. The last time Rollins came off the disabled list, the Phillies designated Valdez for assignment. He cleared waivers, reported to triple-A Lehigh Valley, but was soon back with the Phillies when Rollins reinjured his calf.

Since his second recall, Valdez is hitting .266 (17 for 64) with two home runs and seven RBIs in 20 games (18 starts). But he has also hit into a team-leading 12 double plays in just 121 total plate appearances.

"He's played very good," Manuel said. "He has talent. He's a little better hitter than you think he is. He can run, he can bunt, he can do some things."

Although Valdez has played more, Castro is owed a guaranteed $750,000 in 2010. Since Rollins went back on the disabled list, Castro is hitting .158 (6 for 38).

"Castro's played very good defense," Manuel said. "He's got good hands. Both of those guys have done a good job at shortstop for us."

Both players are journeymen middle infielders who have rarely had the chance to play every day. Earlier in the season, Castro was slowed by two knee injuries. He regularly ices his knees after games.

Valdez said nothing has changed for him with the increased playing time.

"When they have to make the decision, it's their decision, not mine," Valdez said. "The only thing I can control is my game."

Happ's next start

Lefthander J.A. Happ (strained left elbow) said he will make his fourth rehab start Wednesday at double-A Reading.

Happ, who threw 71 pitches in his last start, said he is aiming for 90 to 95 pitches this time around. He said Phillies officials who charted his last outing for Reading told him he averaged 88 m.p.h. with his fastball, an improvement from before.

Happ has been on the disabled list since April 16.

In three rehab outings, Happ has allowed 10 earned runs in 101/3 innings. Opponents are hitting .304 off him.

"Just looking for a little more crispness to the arm," Happ said.

Ruiz still dinged

Catcher Carlos Ruiz was unavailable for the second straight game after taking a blow to the head Friday from a broken bat. Manuel said that he spoke to Ruiz, who saw doctors again Sunday, and that he was feeling better. Manuel still expects Ruiz to return sometime this week.

After catching all 11 innings Saturday, Brian Schneider started again Sunday. He was 0 for 3.

Extra bases

Lefthander Antonio Bastardo said his inflamed left elbow is feeling better, but he has yet to throw since June 15, his last outing before going on the disabled list. . . . Before Saturday, the last time the Phillies blew a five-run lead in the ninth inning while at home was April 20, 1961. . . . Roy Halladay's next start will be Friday against his former team, the Toronto Blue Jays. Halladay and Cole Hamels will be flip-flopped next turn through the rotation. Hamels will pitch Saturday.

Contact staff writer Matt Gelb

at 215-854-2928 or

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