Phillies Notes: Manuel defends use of Contreras

Reliever Jose Contreras and Carlos Ruiz after a shutdown. Now on the disabled list, Contreras is scheduled for an MRI Tuesday.
Reliever Jose Contreras and Carlos Ruiz after a shutdown. Now on the disabled list, Contreras is scheduled for an MRI Tuesday.
Posted: April 26, 2011

PHOENIX - In the wake of Jose Contreras' trip to the disabled list, it was natural to question the 39-year-old closer's workload. He pitched in five games and threw 81 pitches over a span of seven days. He was headed to Philadelphia for a doctor's appointment three days later.

When Ruben Amaro Jr. came into manager Charlie Manuel's office Sunday at Petco Park to share the news with reporters, he implied that Contreras' workload had something to do with the flexor-pronator strain in his right elbow.

"He had some soreness after he pitched on Thursday," the general manager said. "He had been pitching quite a bit."

The Phillies manager bristled at the idea Monday. He went on a long rant about critics of his management of pitchers and included those in the front office.

"The object of it is, like I tell our guys in the meetings - the brass - the object is for us to win the game," Manuel said. "Every day we come to the ballpark, that's the object, to win the game. Now do you want to win or do you want to lose? To me, I want to win, so I'll put the best team I possibly can on the field that day. I'll give you days off when I think so.

"If I'm going to be accountable for my job, then you let me do the whole thing. You basically let me do my whole job. I don't need nobody to tell me what to do and how to do it. It's up to me to do it."

Contreras was examined by team physician Michael Ciccotti in Philadelphia, and Amaro said the pitcher showed less severe symptoms. But an MRI exam was still scheduled for Tuesday to check for structural damage.

Amaro clarified his comments on Monday, saying he has no issue with the way Manuel has handled his players. He said Contreras was not overused.

Manuel was asked if he believed he had the personnel to avoid using Contreras at such a frequent pace. The bullpen was deemed the team's No. 1 offseason priority by Amaro, but few changes were made. With Brad Lidge and J.C. Romero already on the disabled list - and Ryan Madson needing regular days off because of his workload - there have been few trusted options for the manager, especially since the offense has done little to prevent the Phillies from playing in tight games on a nightly basis.

Manuel said he needed a trusted closer.

"There's no way in hell we overused Contreras," Manuel said. "That's how I feel. There's no way. . . . We weren't trying to stay away from him. He was closing games for us."

Manuel also appeared to take a shot at Madson, who had asked for another day of rest Sunday because of general soreness and a desire to be fresh for October.

"It's April 25 and I already hear our guys need days off," Manuel said. "Guys need this. Guys need that.

"Over the years, I get tired of hearing people say we want them healthy in October. October is a long ways off. It's April 25. A lot of time - hell, there's a lot of people that aren't going to make October."

Given the chance for damage control a day later, Amaro said he stood behind his manager's tactics.

"Charlie has done a great job with our guys," Amaro said. "I don't have any issue at all with how Charlie is using our guys."

Stutes arrives

At 7 p.m. Sunday while in Buffalo with triple-A Lehigh Valley, Michael Stutes called his manager, Ryne Sandberg. The Hall of Famer had instructed the righthander to call exactly at that time. He was going from Buffalo to Phoenix.

Not a bad way for Stutes to find out he was headed to the majors.

"I didn't really know what to expect," Stutes said. "It was one of those things where I was pretty excited, but at the same time I was like, 'Now I've got to get all my stuff in order.' I had just moved into a place the day before we left."

Stutes, from Lake Oswego, Ore., had his parents, Chris and Suzy, in the stands at Chase Field on Monday. He also had two childhood friends begin the 22-hour drive immediately after they heard the news so they could see the game live.

Stutes pitched a 1-2-3 eighth.

Extra bases

Amaro said he does not have a target date for Chase Utley (chronic knee pain) to begin a rehab assignment. Utley ran, hit, and fielded grounders Monday.

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