Phillies Notebook: Key stretch for Phillies

Posted: April 23, 2013

STARTING MONDAY, the Phillies will play 13 straight games against teams that finished 2012 with fewer than 80 wins. If they are unable to rattle off nine or 10 wins in this stretch against the Pirates, Mets, Indians and Marlins, then it has a chance to be a very long season.

Pittsburgh comes to town having won nine of its last 12, all against legitimate playoff contenders. The Pirates just took three of four from the Braves, which followed a three-game sweep of the Reds, a split two-game series with the Cardinals, and two of three over the Diamondbacks.

"They've been winning some close games, they've been getting some big hits," manager Charlie Manuel said on Sunday before the start of the Phillies' night game against the Cardinals. "I've been watching 'em."

The Phillies will face a couple of tough pitching matchups in the four-game series against the Pirates, with righthander A.J. Burnett squaring off against rookie Jonathan Pettibone on Monday and lefty Wandy Rodriguez facing Roy Halladay on Wednesday. Before Sunday's game, the Phillies announced that they would promote Pettibone, 22, to make his major league debut in place of John Lannan, who landed on the disabled list with a strained quadriceps tendon in his left knee and could miss between 6 and 8 weeks. The move was surprising since he allowed 12 runs in his first two starts at Triple A Lehigh Valley. But Pettibone had a strong 2012 campaign, going 13-8 with a 3.10 ERA, 6.4 K/9, 2.8 BB/9 and 0.5 HR/9 in 26 starts at Reading and Lehigh Valley.

Lefty Adam Morgan has been the most dominant pitcher at Triple A and impressed the Phillies' field staff with his performance in big-league spring training. But the Phillies allowed him to make a scheduled start on Thursday in Pawtucket, removing him from consideration for a Monday start. Calling up Morgan would require the Phillies to free up a space on their 40-man roster. Pettibone is already on the 40.

Mayberry at No. 2

Last night, John Mayberry Jr. saw his name in the starting lineup for the fifth straight game, his longest stretch of the season. Manuel said he liked Mayberry against Cardinals righthander Jake Westbrook because of the similarities Westbrook shares with Tim Hudson, a pitcher who Mayberry has had success against. The righthanded-hitting outfielder has had some early success against righthanders so far. Heading into Sunday, eight of his nine hits against them had gone for extra bases (he also had 10 strikeouts in 28 at-bats).

Mayberry, who usually hits in the bottom half of the order, batted second against Westbrook, making him the third different two-hole hitter that Manuel has used this season.

Getting Young

Although Delmon Young began his official rehab assignment Sunday with Class A Clearwater. His rust in the field was evident as he misplayed two balls in rightfield in addition to going 1-for-3 with a single, two groundouts and a sacrifice fly. Manuel estimated that Young, recovering from surgery on his right ankle, is at least 10 days to 2 weeks away from being ready to join the Phillies. That, however, assumes he eventually finds his groove in rightfield, something general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. has consistently said he must do before he is activated.


On Twitter: @HighCheese

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