The Phillies bullpen had two encouraging months at the end of last season, which had nearly everybody in the organization optimistic about 2013.
It has not worked out that way.
The bullpen entered tonight’s series opener against the Padres at PETCO Park with a 4.67 ERA, which is the worst mark in baseball and the worst in Charlie Manuel’s nine-year tenure as manager. The Phillies will keep their fingers crossed regarding setup man Mike Adams, who signed a two-year, $12 million contract in December. He could require surgery to repair the labrum in his right shoulder. He will see Dodgers physician Neal ElAttrache tomorrow in Los Angeles after a recent MRI exam revealed changes in the labrum from a previous MRI.
“Our doctors are not recommending surgery right now, but we’ll see what ElAttrache says,” Ruben Amaro Jr. said.
Rich Dubee said with Adams sidelined and little experience in the bullpen other than Jonathan Papelbon (494 career appearances) and Antonio Bastardo (192 career appearances), there will be no defined roles, although it appears Bastardo will be the team’s unofficial setup man. Justin De Fratus also could pitch in the eighth inning if there is a matchup of tough right-handed hitters.
Phillippe Aumont (34), De Fratus (37), Jake Diekman (37), J.C. Ramirez (one) and Joe Savery (28) have a combined 137 career appearances among them.
“We know who we have at the end,” said Dubee, referring to Papelbon. “We’ll pitch the rest to get to the end. We’ll see. We’ll mix and match probably as much as possible. If some guy gets on a hot roll, he may be closer to the end of the game. It’s an opportunity for all of these kids. A golden opportunity.”
Asked about the bullpen’s struggles, Dubee said, “It’s probably the youngest we’ve had. Even at the start it was young. Michael (Adams) was a question mark coming in after the (thoracic outlet syndrome) surgery. We felt good about the three guys at the back end. Chad (Durbin) was here to pick up some innings in the middle. That was an acquisition. (Jeremy) Horst got off to a bad start. (Raul) Valdes got off to a bad start. Those were two guys we got big years out of last year. That’s a crapshoot in baseball; trying to find the right bullpen pieces. After wear and tear, sometimes you don’t know what you’re going to get.”