Stutes making up for lost season with Phillies

Phillies pitcher Michael Stutes throws a pitch against the Marlins. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)
Phillies pitcher Michael Stutes throws a pitch against the Marlins. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer) (Daily News/Inquirer)
Posted: June 20, 2013

Phillies righthander Michael Stutes isn't about to get carried away by his impressive start since being called up from triple-A Lehigh Valley on May 23.

Stutes pitched two scoreless innings in Monday's 5-4 win over the Washington Nationals, lowering his earned run average to 1.32.

In 11 relief appearances, Stutes is 2-0 and has struck out six and walked two in 132/3 innings. He is trying to keep his quick start in perspective.

"It's early in the season and you don't really look at the numbers," Stutes said before Tuesday's game. "You try to go out there and throw strikes, and that is what I am focusing on."

Stutes admits it's nice to be healthy again. He was placed on the disabled list on April 22 last year and missed the rest of the season with right shoulder inflammation. Stutes said he had a bone chip pressing against nerves in his rotator cuff, which caused discomfort.

After he went 6-2 with a 3.63 ERA in 57 appearances for the Phillies in 2011, Stutes' season was over after just 52/3 innings in six games last season.

Being sidelined was a new experience for the 26-year-old Oregon State graduate.

"I never before missed practice or a game through high school, college, anything," Stutes said. He added: "After going through rehab, I realize how fortunate you are when you are feeling healthy."

The Phillies bullpen has been inconsistent. It entered Tuesday's game ranked 27th in the majors with a 4.49 ERA.

Stutes has made an early favorable impression on manager Charlie Manuel.

"His slider has been a little better than it was when he first joined us," Manuel said.

Manuel said a key for Stutes will be the continued development of a change-up, which would give him a third effective pitch in addition to his slider and fastball.

Stutes said that despite last year's inactivity, he expected to make the team even though he had a 7.36 ERA in 11 spring-training innings.

He said he had to refocus when he began the season at Lehigh Valley. One thing he did at triple A was pitch multiple innings, something that came in handy on Monday. With the Phillies, he has pitched two or more innings three times.

"I had typically been a one-inning guy," Stutes said. "This year when I was sent to triple A, I had a lot of two-inning outings and I will do what they need me to do and whatever I can for them."

Just don't ask him to rate his performance at this stage.

"Hopefully the numbers will be like this in September," Stutes said. "That would be sweet."

Contact Marc Narducci at Follow @sjnard on Twitter.

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