Inside the Phillies: There are still reasons to keep watching this team

Posted: August 03, 2012

WASHINGTON - Shane Victorino is gone and now the Phillies are looking for the next Shane Victorino.

Josh Lindblom is here and maybe he can be the next Ryan Madson.

Dom Brown is back and maybe this time is his time.

No, I'm not here to tell you that any of these things will happen between now and the Oct. 3 regular-season finale back here at Nationals Park.

It's just that there is a chance they will happen and that's why we keep watching.

Victorino is a good example of why.

"You're always looking to get better," manager Charlie Manuel said after he filled out a lineup card that included newcomers Brown and Nate Schierholtz in the outfield. "You're always looking for somebody to play better and who can make your team better. You never know until you throw somebody in the game. I've put guys in the game sometimes just because I had to and, hell, they ended up being good players."

That's not exactly Victorino's story, but he did go from a Rule 5 draft selection offered back to the Los Angeles Dodgers at the start of the 2005 season to a member of the Phillies core that won five straight division titles and a World Series.

It was in September of that 2005 season that Victorino first got a chance to prove his worth and he did enough to work his way into the Phillies' future plans.

Now, Brown and Schierholtz have an even better opportunity to work their way into the picture for 2013.

Both had an impact in Wednesday night's game, a 3-2 Phillies win over the Washington Nationals.

Brown prevented a run in the second inning by nailing pitcher Edwin Jackson at home with a rocket one-hop throw to the plate on a single by Bryce Harper. It was the kind of play Harper made after first joining the Nationals. It was the kind of play that can energize a team, even one that has had so much go wrong this season.

Schierholtz's biggest moment came in the top of the fifth. After Jimmy Rollins hit his second home run of the night deep into the right-field seats, the former Giant launched a first-pitch fastball from Edwin Jackson and it, too, landed deep in the right-field seats. His first home run as a Phillie stood up as a game-winner.

"I was just looking for a good pitch to hit and I was ready, first pitch, and I was able to get it up," Schierholtz said. "It was exciting. For one day, it was a great group of guys. Everybody has welcomed me, and I feel at home."

Brown, who turns 25 next month, has had big-league chances before, but never one quite like this. Because Manuel does not have to worry about the standings, he can write in Brown's name every night without hesitation. Brown should be relaxed and let his talent flow because the Phillies are dying to make him one of their three regular outfielders in 2013.

"They definitely have shown how much faith they have in me," Brown said. "I'm just going to go out and play hard. I'm not trying to replace anybody. I'm going out and playing hard."

Schierholtz, 28, played parts of six big-league seasons with the San Francisco Giants, but he never became a regular in manager Bruce Bochy's lineup, a fact that gnawed at him.

"I just felt like I had a short leash," Schierholtz said of his time with the Giants. "It was series by series. If I didn't perform for three games, that was my chance. It got frustrating at times."

Lindblom, 25, also has a chance to be something more than he was in Los Angeles, the team that took him in the second round of the 2008 draft out of Purdue.

Manuel was asked who he considered his eighth-inning setup man, a role that Madson performed so brilliantly before becoming the team's closer in 2011. The manager thought for a minute before admitting he had no idea who he considered his setup man.

In essence, it is a setup man by committee, and Lindblom was part of that committee Wednesday night. After lefty Antonio Bastardo got the first out of the eighth, Lindblom was asked to face pinch-hitter Ryan Zimmerman and Michael Morse, the two best righthanded hitters in Washington's lineup. Zimmerman singled, but Lindblom struck out Morse with a 94-m.p.h. fastball that had good movement.

"In a perfect world, for me, I take the approach wherever I'm slated to come in, I want to take advantage of that role," the 6-foot-4 reliever said. "Obviously [Jonathan] Papelbon is the closer. It doesn't really matter to me. I just want to win."

For the second straight night, the revamped Phillies did win against the team with the best record in baseball.


m Contact Bob Brookover at bbrookover@phillynews.com or @brookob on Twitter.

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