While the magician can always seem to pull a quarter out of his subject's ear, the baseball equivalent of conjuring up a helpful deal is considerably more dicey. So yesterday, while he was watching Herndon, the deadline went unobserved.
"We talked to a bunch of clubs about doing some things, but we didn't get anything done," Amaro said with a shrug.
Did he come close?
"I don't believe in close," he responded.
Amaro didn't appear overly concerned, and that's not too surprising. After all, the bullpen got a boost when Brad Lidge returned from the disabled list on July 22. It should add more depth when Roy Oswalt returns to the rotation this weekend, which adds Kyle Kendrick to the bullpen mix.
And Amaro was cautiously optimistic that Jose Contreras, out with a right forearm strain, might still be able to pitch again this season. He's scheduled to begin a throwing program tomorrow in Clearwater, Fla.
There's also the possibility of a waiver trade being made before the Sept. 1 deadline to have players eligible for postseason play.
"Some years, there's one team blocking everybody on the planet. Some years, you just can't believe certain guys get through," Amaro said. "We'll just have to see how it pans out."
A telltale sign of how confident the Phillies are in their pitching at the moment is that they optioned righthander Drew Carpenter to Triple A Lehigh Valley when third baseman Placido Polanco came off the disabled list Saturday.
That left them with 11 pitchers, even though their next stop, Coors Field, is a ballpark that sometimes forces managers to burn through their bullpen. Every available reliever except Michael Stutes was used in yesterday's 6-5, 10-inning win over the Pirates at Citizens Bank Park.
Charlie Manuel said he believes the situation is under control. "We've just got to make sure we keep our bullpen organized and rested enough," he said.
Ryan Howard's second-inning home run into the bushes in centerfield Saturday night was the 274th of his career. Which means he's exactly halfway to the franchise record of 548 held by Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt.
Schmitty was 30 years, 356 days old when he hit No. 274 at Pittsburgh's Three Rivers Stadium on Sept. 16, 1980. Howard was 31 years and 113 days.
Can the current first baseman catch the former third baseman? It took Howard 980 games and 3,628 at-bats to hit his compared to 1,217 and 4,196 for Schmidt, who went on to have seven more strong seasons, averaging more than 35 homers per season. He then hit just 12 in an injury-shortened 1988 and six before retiring on Memorial Day the following season.
Howard is signed through 2016 with a club option for 2017.
Starter Vance Worley gave up four runs on seven hits in six innings yesterday. That ended a streak of seven straight starts in which he hadn't allowed more than two runs . . . Shortstop Jimmy Rollins batted .462 with two homers and five RBI in the Pirates series . . . The Phillies are 5-6 in extra innings . . . Reliever Antonio Bastardo has won six straight decisions . . . The announced crowd of 45,809 was the 182nd consecutive regular-season sellout at Citizens Bank Park . . . Roy Oswalt is scheduled to make his second rehab start for the IronPigs tonight at the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees. Barring a setback, he'll likely return to the rotation Saturday in San Francisco . . . Whether by coincidence or design, Roy Halladay will not face the Giants in the regular season. He didn't pitch against the defending world champions when they visited Citizens Bank Park last week and is slated to start Wednesday in Colorado, the day before the four-game series at AT & T Park opens.