Phillies and a 'strange schedule'

RON CORTES / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Mike Adams says he can handle the workload in the Phillies' upcoming long stretch of games.
RON CORTES / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Mike Adams says he can handle the workload in the Phillies' upcoming long stretch of games.
Posted: May 21, 2014

PITCHING WITH a surgically repaired shoulder that delayed the start of his season for a couple of weeks, Mike Adams is the kind of player who might benefit from a glut of days off. But even he thinks the first 7 weeks of the Phillies season has been ridiculous.

"Recently, it seems the off days have all been coming at once," Adams said. "That's not necessarily the best thing."

Adams is not alone in that assessment. Since finishing off a successful western swing in late April that moved them to 13-12, the Phillies have played 16 games in 22 days. One of those idle days was a rainout against the Mets, but the rest were scheduled days off, including yesterday, their third day without a game in the last 8.

Compare that with the stretch of 41 games in 41 days that they are scheduled to begin today in Miami. First, they'll play 20 in a row against the Marlins, Dodgers, Rockies, Mets, Nationals and Reds. After an off day on June 9, they are scheduled to play 20 games in a row, plus a doubleheader on June 28. In fact, the Phillies have only 3 scheduled off days between now and the All-Star Break, giving them 54 games in 56 days, doubleheader included. This, after starting the season by playing 41 games in 50 days.

Manager Ryne Sandberg has mentioned a couple of times this season that the off days have prevented his team from getting into a rhythm.

"Strange schedule," Sandberg said after the Phillies took two of three from the Reds over the weekend. "Right now, we are swinging the bats. It's been real choppy, a little hard to get into a rhythm. But bouncing back and winning this series, after the way the things were going there for a few days, was big for the guys."

The days off have created one fringe benefit as Sandberg has been able to lean heavily on his strikeout arms in the bullpen while using the front of the bullpen sparingly. Jake Diekman and Antonio Bastardo each have appeared in 20 of the Phillies' 41 games, while Adams has as many appearances as Jeff Manship (12) despite spending the first 2 weeks of the season on the disabled list. Diekman, Bastardo and Jonathan Papelbon have 57 combined relief appearances. The rest of the bullpen has combined for 59. Righthander Luis Garcia has not pitched in 12 days, his last appearance coming against the Blue Jays on May 8 (he allowed five runs in two innings).

"Now, that's about to change with a long streak of games," Sandberg said. "It will be up to the relievers for everybody to be ready to go, ready to do their job. Everybody will get some action in the bullpen."

Adams says he is ready for the workload, but added that the most important thing for him is to understand the limits of his body.

"It's going to come down to being honest with the coaching staff," Adams said. "If I need a couple days off, I need to be honest with them, be honest with myself, that, hey, I need a couple of days to get my strength back and recover."

The grind is about to begin.


On Twitter: @ByDavidMurphy

Blog: ph.ly/HighCheese

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