Phillies Notebook: Phillies come back from break without fixing centerfield problem

ASSOCIATED PRESS John Mayberry Jr., hitting an RBI-single in first, started in centerfield for the second straight game.
ASSOCIATED PRESS John Mayberry Jr., hitting an RBI-single in first, started in centerfield for the second straight game.
Posted: July 22, 2013

NEW YORK - Last October, when the Phillies entered an offseason following a non-playoff season for the first time since 2006, they had one absolute need on their winter to-do list.

With little to nothing in the farm system or on the major league roster, the Phils needed a starting centerfielder. They needed one so badly, they ended up trading a member of their rotation (Vance Worley) and a top pitching prospect (Trevor May) to get one.

When the Phillies lost that player (Ben Revere) for up to 2 months with a broken foot last weekend, they were back to square one. But apparently the front office isn't in any rush to address the position this time around.

The Phils returned from the All-Star break yesterday at Citi Field with the same roster from before the break: three catchers and only one player who has started a game in centerfield this season. John Mayberry Jr. started in Revere's place again last night, just as he did Sunday, but the options behind him were less than appealing.

"McDonald can definitely play there," manager Charlie Manuel said. "Frandsen can probably play on the corner. Nix has played center before. We've got Ruf. We can cover it."

McDonald is the 38-year-old John McDonald, who has played 37 innings in the outfield in a 15-year career and none in the last three seasons. Kevin Frandsen is another utility infielder; he has played one inning in the outfield since 2007. Little-used Laynce Nix has been used in the outfield only five times in the last 2 months, and Darin Ruf is a first baseman who was introduced to the outfield for the first time only last summer.

The Phils had the length of a work week to replace Revere either from inside or outside their organization. But it wasn't enough time to find an able centerfielder.

"I think we're in pretty good shape," assistant general manager Scott Proefrock said before the game. "Everybody should be well-rested. We're good to go."

Perhaps the lack of outfield depth is still a temporary problem for a team that hopes to be buyers instead of sellers in the 2 weeks before the trade deadline. Manuel said that general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. would be arriving in New York tomorrow and that a move could be made before the team continues its road trip in St. Louis on Tuesday.

At Triple A Lehigh Valley yesterday, prospect Cesar Hernandez made his eighth straight start in center. Before the game, third-base prospect Cody Asche reportedly worked in the outfield, too.

Outside the organization, there seem to be few intriguing options. (David DeJesus, of the Chicago Cubs?)

"I wouldn't say it's limited - it takes two to tango," Proefrock said of the trade market. "We're examining all of our options. We haven't had a situation that merited pulling the trigger yet."

With Mayberry in center, the backup catching brigade of Erik Kratz and Humberto Quintero joined Frandsen as the team's righthanded-hitting bench bats, with Nix as the only lefthanded hitter.

Looking for relief

In addition to centerfield, the Phils would like to add at least one arm to their bullpen before the July 31 trade deadline. That need also grew larger when the team returned from break. Jeremy Horst and Mike Stutes could join Mike Adams on the sideline for the remainder of the season.

Horst, sidelined with a left elbow sprain since June 16, had his rehab assignment at Triple A Lehigh Valley cut short last week when his arm began to ache again. He had a platement-rich plasma injection over the break, won't throw again for 4 to 6 weeks, and very likely is finished for 2013.

Stutes, out with right biceps tendinitis since June 23, began throwing for the first time in his rehab last week, but also suffered a setback. He had another MRI exam, confirming the initial diagnosis, and a cortisone injection, and will sit out another 2 to 3 weeks before throwing again.

Adams, meanwhile, hasn't responded well from his own PRP injection from last month. He is scheduled to revisit Neal ElAttrache, the doctor who performed Roy Halladay's surgery 2 months ago.

Adams, who turns 35 later this month and is in the first year of a 2-year, $12 million contract, is very likely headed for surgery.

"We failed on the conservative part of things," Phillies head athletic trainer Scott Sheridan said of Adams' decision to try treatment and rehab instead of surgery a month ago. "We had a short leash on how long [we'd wait]; obviously. [it has been] a 3-week period . . . Anytime you can avoid surgery, you do. I think it's Dr. ElAttrache and Mike's decision on what we do next."

Phillers

Roy Halladay played long toss at 120 feet and then threw a dozen pitches on flat ground before early batting practice. Halladay is slowly moving toward throwing off a mound, although no timetable has been set for that progression. The Phils hope to have the two-time Cy Young Award winner back before September . . . Ryan Howard will have stitches removed from his surgically repaired left knee on Tuesday. Sheridan said the team has been "very pleased" with Howard's range of motion during the early part of his rehab . . . The Phils entered play last night with an 8-3 record since July 4, the best mark among National League teams. Only the Tampa Bay Rays (10-1) have a better record since Independence Day.


On Twitter: @ryanlawrence21

Blog: ph.ly/HighCheese

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