Phillies' Stutes blames location, not fatigue, for struggles

Michael Stutes has been a significant part of the Phillies' bullpen this season. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)
Michael Stutes has been a significant part of the Phillies' bullpen this season. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)
Posted: August 24, 2011

Mike Stutes sat by his locker, listening patiently as someone ran down a list of possible reasons why he is struggling for the first time this season.

The Phillies rookie reliever said that his arm feels good, that it's nothing physical.

He said he senses no sign of mental fatigue, an affliction manager Charlie Manuel attributes to first-year pitchers who begin to labor during the long season's dog days.

He said the innings were not taking a toll. After all, what's 48 innings to a guy who threw 761/3 in the minors last season and 1452/3 at Reading in '09?

It's all very simple, Stutes said: When he's not keeping the ball low in the strike zone, he often pays the price. It's about location, not his arm or his head.

"I'm not making excuses," he said. "I'm just leaving a lot of pitches up in the zone."

Employed primarily as a setup man, the 24-year-old Stutes has been a significant part of the bullpen, along with Antonio Bastardo, another rookie. Stutes had his roughest game of the season Tuesday against the Mets, when he allowed three runs and four hits in the final two innings of the Phillies' 9-4 win. He has given up six runs and 11 hits in his last five appearances, covering 101/3 innings.

Stutes said he has overcome tough times before, although this is the first time he will have to do it at the big-league level.

"Everyone goes through rough patches," he said. "I haven't gotten to this point without going through some adversity in my career. You just keep following your routine. You don't panic. You trust in yourself. I wasn't making pitches, and they were hitting them, and they were finding the gaps.

"I went through rough patches last year, too. It just happened to be at the beginning of last season instead of the end. No matter who you are, everyone goes through bad games. Sometimes those bad games are back-to-back. There's no reason to panic."

Through much of the season, Manuel has expressed concern about the physical and mental toll the season could take on his rookie relievers.

"I'm concerned. I've said that all year long," Manuel said. "He's never been here. This is the big leagues, and it takes its toll on you. The season is long, and it can get mental on you. He's in that zone where I thought Atlanta's pitchers might get to, and they haven't gotten there yet. Stutes is going to be OK, but this is a test for him."

Based on Stutes' calm demeanor, it's a test he's prepared to take.

Phillies sign Tocci

Not many teenagers get to celebrate their 16th birthday by receiving a check worth $759,000, but that's the signing bonus the Phillies gave Carlos Tocci, who turned 16 Tuesday.

It's the fourth-highest bonus the club has given to an international free agent and second-highest to a player from Latin America behind Josue Perez, a Cuban who signed for $850,000. In 2001, the Phillies signed South Koreans Seung Lee and Il Kim for $1.2 million and $800,000 respectively. Neither has been heard from since.

The 6-foot-2, 160-pound Tocci is a righthanded-hitting centerfielder from Venezuela. His speed and instincts make him an attractive prospect.

Extra bases

Shane Victorino, who extended his hitting streak to 12 games, has the Phillies' two longest hitting streaks this season. The other was 15 games from April 26 to May 13. The centerfielder is batting .358 (19 for 53) during the streak with three homers and 10 RBIs. . . . Carlos Ruiz has multiple hits in each of his last five games and has hit safely in seven straight. Ruiz hit .500 (10 for 20) in his last five games and is 12 for 27 (.444) during the seven-game run. . . . After walking his first batter on four pitches, Brad Lidge recovered by getting two strikeouts and a fly-out in the one inning he pitched - the sixth. He struck out David Wright with a 91 m.p.h. fastball. . . . The 3-hour, 41-minute game equaled the longest non-rain-delayed contest of the season for the Phillies.

Contact staff writer Ray Parrillo at

or @rayparrilloinq on Twitter.

comments powered by Disqus