Phillies Notes: Phillies may have to call up pitcher if Halladay can't make next start

Posted: May 29, 2012

ST. LOUIS - You don't replace Roy Halladay, but the Phillies soon could be confronted with the burden of finding someone to fill in for their most accomplished ace after he left Sunday's 8-3 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals with shoulder soreness.

"If we ever have to fill a rotation spot, we'll get somebody and fill it," manager Charlie Manuel said tersely after learning that his team's greatest strength might just have been significantly weakened. "The game is going to go on."

Halladay is next scheduled to pitch Saturday at Citizens Bank Park against the Miami Marlins. At some point, righthander Vance Worley, who has inflammation in his right elbow, is expected to return to the starting rotation, but assistant general manager Scott Proefrock indicated he will not be ready by Saturday.

"He hasn't even thrown a bullpen yet," Proefrock said.

That means the Phillies may have to call upon one of their triple-A Lehigh Valley starters for Saturday's game if Halladay is unable to pitch.

The candidates include veterans Scott Elarton and Dave Bush, and prospect Tyler Cloyd. None of the three is on the current 40-man roster, but all of them have pitched well this season for the IronPigs. Elarton was 5-1 with a 2.98 ERA going into his start Sunday against Charlotte. Bush is 4-3 with a 2.73 ERA in nine starts and has thrown 16 scoreless innings in his last two starts. Cloyd is 4-1 with a 2.15 ERA at Lehigh Valley and a combined 7-1 with a 2.01 ERA counting four starts at double-A Reading.

Utley progressing

Chase Utley said he sees progress as he continues his quest to return from the knee soreness that has delayed the start of his season for the second consecutive year.

"Every day, it seems like it's getting a little bit better," the Phillies second baseman said Sunday morning. "The last couple of days I've pushed it and increased the intensity a little bit, and they have responded well, so that's a good sign in my eyes."

After taking only 10 or so ground balls before Thursday's series opener with the Cardinals, Utley handled 25 grounders Friday and about the same number Saturday. The Phillies did not take batting practice before Sunday's game, so Utley was not in the field, either.

Utley, 33, said the number of ground balls he handles is not as important as the intensity with which he goes after them. He also has spent batting practice tracking balls off hitter's bats when he is not fielding fungoes from the coaching staff.

"Just to get that feel back," he said. "I'm moving a little bit quicker, a little bit harder, and a little bit more."

A year ago, before Utley began his rehabilitation at single-A Clearwater, he often could be seen running hard around the bases. We have not seen that yet, but he said he uses time in the outfield to run and test his knees.

"As far as running around, shagging balls in the outfield, I kind of use that time for agility," Utley said.

Players, of course, have changed positions in the past to remove stress from their knees. The most notable player in Phillies history to move to the outfield for that reason was catcher Darren Daulton in 1997.

That's not a move Utley appears to be considering.

"I haven't thought about it too much," he said. "All I know is my knees the last week or so have felt better than they have in a while, which is kind of what we've been working toward."

Extra bases

Chad Qualls allowed two home runs in the 8-3 loss and now has allowed six this season - tied for the most in the major leagues among relief pitchers. . . . Hunter Pence was thrown out at third base in the sixth inning after the ball scooted away from catcher Tony Cruz. It was the fifth time this season he was thrown out on the bases on something other than a steal attempt. That's tied for the second most in the National League.

Contact Bob Brookover at Follow on Twitter @brookob.

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