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Ruf to Miss 4-6 Weeks

Darin RufDarin Ruf suffered a blow today when a MRI revealed he has between a Grade 1 and 2 strained left oblique.

He is expected to miss 4-6 weeks, which ends his chances of making the Opening Day roster.

Ruf said he had been feeling some tightness in his oblique for about a week, but he did not consider it anything serious, so he made no mention to the athletic training staff. He felt he would be fine if he simply took more time to warm up and stretch before workouts and games.

“It was one swing (Thursday during batting practice) that kind of took it to another level,” Ruf said.

Ruf could not help but think about the Opening Day roster implications after it happened. He had a good chance to make the team as a reserve outfielder/first baseman.

“Just when I was experiencing tightness that kind of crossed my mind,” Ruf said. “When that swing happened it was very disappointing.”

Chase Utley spent nearly a month on the disabled list last season with a strained oblique, and Carlos Ruiz spent three weeks on the DL in 2009 with the same injury.

Galvis, Ruf Down with Injuries

Freddy GalvisPhillies players are dropping like flies.

Freddy Galvis, who was a lock to the make the Opening Day roster as a utility infielder, is in the hospital with a staph infection. He had an abscess removed from his left knee earlier this week. He could miss at least 2-3 weeks.

Darin Ruf, who was a strong candidate to make the Opening Day roster as a reserve outfielder/first baseman, is scheduled to have a MRI today. He strained his left oblique while taking batting practice yesterday. Ruf is hopeful he can be back soon, but hitters typically need a couple weeks to recover from it.

Galvis and Ruf could join left-hander Cole Hamels and right-handers Mike Adams, Jonathan Pettibone, Ethan Martin and Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez on a crowded disabled list with Opening Day just 10 days away.

The Galvis and Ruf setbacks have considerable implications for the Phillies bench. The Phillies have considered carrying a six-player bench the first couple weeks of the season as they only need four starting pitchers until April 14. If the Phillies still plan to carry six bench players they could carry outfielders Tony Gwynn Jr., Bobby Abreu and John Mayberry Jr.; infielders Kevin Frandsen and Ronny Cedeno; and catcher Wil Nieves.

Cedeno and Reid Brignac are both in camp fighting for a utility infield job. Cedeno might be the better bet at this point only because he is considered a better defensive player. Galvis is the best defensive infielder on the team, so they need somebody to try to replicate that.

Galvis had the abscess removed Wednesday, and he had hoped to rest for a couple days before trying to get back on the field this weekend. Ruf said he had been feeling some tightness in his oblique for about a week, but did not consider it anything serious. He felt he would be fine if he simply took more time to warm up and stretch before workouts and games.

“It was one swing that kind of took it to another level,” Ruf said. “We’ll see what the next few days bring. We’ll see if it gets back to a stage where I can play normally, if I get loose properly. Or if it’s something I’ll need to let heal completely. I don’t know.”

Ruf could not help but think about the Opening Day roster implications after it happened.

“Just when I was experiencing tightness that kind of crossed my mind,” he said. “When that swing happened it was very disappointing.”

Rollins Unfazed By Report

Phillies Player of the '00s: RollinsThe Phillies had just started batting practice this morning at Bright House Field, when Ruben Amaro Jr. called over Jimmy Rollins to a spot in shallow left field.

They spoke for a couple minutes with Amaro concluding the conversation with a pat on Rollins’ back.

Amaro and Rollins declined to discuss the conversation, but they most certainly were discussing an ESPN.com report yesterday that said there is strong sentiment within the Phillies organization that it would be better served trading Rollins as soon as possible. It followed Ryne Sandberg benching Rollins three consecutive games last week and offering a pointed “no comment” when asked about Rollins’ influence in the clubhouse this spring.

Rollins said he isn’t bothered by the report.

“Because I can’t be traded,” he said before leaving for Dunedin to play the Blue Jays. “It doesn’t matter. I don’t care which way it is tried to be twisted or said, or if it is exactly how it was said, or even if it was said, I can’t be traded. It doesn’t matter. If I was tradable it may have weight because that means I could be moving soon. But I am not tradable and so it doesn’t matter.”

Amaro repeatedly called any suggestion the Phillies want Rollins out “silly” or “silliness.”

“Absolute silliness,” he said. “Jimmy Rollins is our shortstop. One of the ways we’re going to be able to win is with Jimmy being Jimmy. … We have no intention of moving Jimmy. We need Jimmy to play for us to win. It’s as simple as that.”

Asked if he believes Rollins needs to be a better leader or if that is an issue, Amaro said, “I don’t have any issues at all with Jimmy.”

It must be noted the Phillies have explored trading Rollins the previous two Trade Deadlines and again this past offseason, just like there are some that have grown weary of things like Rollins not running hard to first base, etc., so the idea the Phillies would trade Rollins at the right time with the right opportunity is correct. But Rollins has stated multiple times over the past year he has absolutely no intentions of waiving his 10-and-5 trade rights.

He is not going anywhere.

Rollins said he is not troubled that somebody could be trying to make him look bad.

“It might be a little late for that,” Rollins said. “That’s probably happened years ago. You’re persecuted long before the day you’re sentenced. You’re already found guilty or innocent by the people, so it’s a little late for that.

“Everybody wants to be loved or liked. But good or bad, right or wrong, people are going to love you and some are going to hate you regardless. You can’t change their opinions to swing either way.”

Amaro reiterated several times the Phillies need Rollins to play and play well if they expect to return to the postseason for the first time since 2011. But one thing that could be a distraction to Rollins is if he believes the front office doesn’t like him.

“Nobody, there’s nobody that is upset with Jimmy,” Amaro said. “Jimmy Rollins is our shortstop. I’m happy to have him. Like I said, we need to have Jimmy be as good as he possibly can be for us to win.”

Rollins had the worst season of his career last year. He said he isn’t worried the hammer is being dropped because he is not performing like he had in the past.

“That’s OK,” he said. “Am I coming off a bad year? Yes, that part is true. I’ve never hid from the truth. That’s OK. They can’t be harder on me than I am on myself. It’s OK, it’s OK, it’s OK. I’m looking forward to a great year.”

Hamels Takes Another Step

Cole HamelsCole Hamels called this a big week, and Wednesday represented another step forward for him.

He threw a 40-pitch bullpen session in the morning at Bright House Field. If he feels OK Thursday, he is expected to throw to hitters in a live batting practice session Saturday. He said he expects to throw one more live BP after that before potentially pitching in a game.

“It went really well,” Hamels said. “I’m pleased, being able to build my pitch count, getting the reps I need. I was able to get a lot of pitches out of the stretch, and I introduced the windup, which I haven’t done since last year. Getting familiar with that again and being able to build the reps from there, it’s obviously a step in the right direction.”

Hamels is weeks behind schedule and will open the season on the disabled list. He suffered inflammation in his left shoulder in November, which halted his normal offseason throwing and strengthening programs. He appeared to be recovering nicely earlier this month, when he suffered a setback, saying his arm felt fatigued.

Hamels said he has most of his total body strength back – about 90 percent in his estimations – which will allow him to continue without further setbacks.

“It’s that last 10 percent that really takes a little bit longer,” Hamels said. “But at the same time when you’re able to get it, it’s there. It’s there for the long haul. We’ve been staying on the safe side. I think seeing how I’ve been able to feel, how I’ve been able to respond, we can get a little more aggressive. Ultimately, we’ll always be cautious and on the safe side to get ready for games.”

The Rollins Drama

Rollins: We'll Win 100 GamesIs this just the beginning of the Jimmy Rollins drama?

ESPN’s Buster Olney had a very interesting tweet and story today about Rollins, who was benched three consecutive games last week because Ryne Sandberg had a problem with him:

Olney then noted, “Jimmy Rollins, of course, cannot be traded without his consent, because he has 10-5 rights.”

Yes, there are folks who have grown tired of Rollins. But then the Phillies also signed him to a three-year, $33 million extension following the 2011 season, despite no evidence any other team in baseball offered him more than a one-year deal. Rollins’ deal includes an easily attainable club option for 2015, which essentially makes this a four-year, $44 million contract. The Phillies handed him this contract, despite knowing his shortcomings, knowing they had Freddy Galvis waiting in the wings and knowing Rollins’ production had declined the previous three seasons. His .720 OPS from 2009-11 ranked 144th out of 181 qualifying players, and 14th out of 25 qualifying shortstops.

They committed big money to him anyway.

Two important things to remember here:

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Phils Acquire Hill for Minor League Depth

The Phillies acquired catcher Koyie Hill from the Nationals today in exchange for cash or a player to be named later.

He will report to Minor League camp, where he is expected to be a backup at the upper levels. Cameron Rupp is expected to receive regular playing time this season with Triple-A Lehigh Valley, while Tommy Joseph is expected to see the same with Double-A Reading. Wil Nieves will be Carlos Ruiz’s backup in the big leagues.

The Phillies recently released Lou Marson, who came to camp as a non-roster invitee on a Minor League deal. Hill provides the Phillies some veteran depth.

Hill, selected by the Dodgers in the fourth round of the 2000 First-Year Player Draft, has played 331 games in the Majors over 10 seasons with four teams: the Dodgers, D-Backs, Marlins and Cubs. He signed as a free agent with the Nationals early last month.

The veteran catcher has hit .206 (192-for-930) in his career.

Big Week for Hamels

Ryne Sandberg, A.J. Burnett, Cole HamelsCheck back later this week, but Cole Hamels brimmed with confidence following today’s bullpen session at Citizens Bank Park.

He threw 27 pitches at about 70 percent as he recovers from a left shoulder issue that put him several weeks behind schedule. Hamels said he hopes to throw again Wednesday, then hopefully face hitters after that.

“I was really thoroughly impressed with the way I’ve been feeling all week,” he said. “The past couple days with recovering and still being able to maintain the exercises and the strength program without any hiccups or even having to take it back a notch, I’ve really been able to bounce back really well.”

Keep in mind Hamels seemed to be progressing nicely earlier this month before he suffered a setback. His arm felt fatigued as a result of pushing too hard too fast and being unable to build strength as he would during a typical offseason.

He indicated this time is different.

“Ultimately, my strength is now there,” he said. “I can throw at the distance I know I’m capable of throwing. I could probably throw more. Having that and throwing with the right type of intensity, then it leads right into the mound.

“The plan is to go Wednesday. A pen. And then, from there, get right into batting practice. So, I’m really looking forward to this week. This is going to be a big week, with some big stepping stones. I know with everything we’ve been able to do, the way I’ve been able to recover and gain the strength necessary to do it, I’m really pleased.”

Rollins Comments on Ryno’s No Comment

Jimmy RollinsJimmy Rollins spoke to reporters this morning following Ryne Sandberg’s interesting “no comment” yesterday, when asked about the positivity and energy he has brought this spring. Rollins has not played since Monday. He was in Tuesday’s lineup, but was scratched that morning. He did not play yesterday and he is not in the lineup today.

Rollins is healthy.

Here is some of what he said this morning:

Q: Why do you think you’re not in the lineup today? It’s unusual for a starter.
A: Yeah, I don’t know. You’ll have to go ask the manager. I don’t write the lineup.

Q: Do you think it’s unusual, though?
A: Oh, it is unusual. Yes, but I’m not going to try to second guess or predict or come up with a reason why.

Q: So yesterday Sandberg is asked about Freddy Galvis. He says he loves his positivity and energy. The next question is how has Jimmy been in that regard this spring? He gives a no comment. What do you make of that? Does that bother you?
A: Well, everyone is allowed to have their own opinion. It doesn’t make it right, but he’s the manager so he gets to have the last say.

Q: What’s your relationship with Ryne so far?
A: It’s good. We talk. Except for the last two days we talk every day. We talk about baseball behind the cage when we’re doing our hitting drills. I let people challenge me throughout situations and have fun. No one has a problem with that.

Q: When would you want to talk with Ryno about this?
A: Whenever he comes to me.

Q: Do you think there’s a method to this? Do you think he’s trying to light a fire under you or something?
A: I don’t know. I don’t know. There’s no fire that needs to be lit, though. Never has been, especially when things count.

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Rollins Sits, Galvis Positively Plays

Jimmy RollinsRyne Sandberg has been singing Freddy Galvis’ praises since the offseason, when he essentially guaranteed he would make the team as a utility infielder.

Galvis went 1-for-2 with a triple, walk and RBI in today’s 6-5 victory over the Orioles in a Grapefruit League game at Ed Smith Stadium. Galvis has started at shortstop the past two Grapefruit League games, and is scheduled to start there a third consecutive game tomorrow against the Yankees at Bright House Field. Asked before the game about Rollins’ string of absences, Ruben Amaro Jr. said he is unaware of any health issues.

So is everything OK with Rollins or is he just getting a break?

“No, he’s fine,” Sandberg said.

Asked if Galvis could push Rollins for playing time this season, Sandberg said, “Freddy’s a guy that will get playing time at various positions. He’s a guy that I like in the lineup. I feel good about what he brings to the table. The biggest thing I like is his energy and his positive influence. His positive influence on everybody that’s around him.”

And what he has thought about Rollins in that regard this spring?

“No comment,” Sandberg said.

Sore Shoulders Everywhere: Gonzalez Latest

Alfredo Miguel GonzalezAnother week, another sore shoulder for a Phillies pitcher.

Right-hander Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez did not pitch as scheduled today in a Grapefruit League game against the Orioles at Ed Smith Stadium because he has a sore right shoulder. The Phillies said he first experienced the soreness while throwing yesterday.

Gonzalez already has seen a doctor, and will see a doctor again tomorrow.

“We’re always concerned about guys who are sore,” Ruben Amaro Jr. said. “But that’s all it is right now. He is day-to-day. … He experienced some soreness in the front of his shoulder. We don’t think it’s anything alarming. He was feeling better today.”

The Phillies are short on starting pitching depth, but it was highly unlikely Gonzalez would have opened the season in the big leagues anyway. He has not looked close to ready after signing a $12 million contract last summer. He allowed four hits, four runs and two walks in one inning Friday against the Orioles, which was the last time he pitched.

The Phillies originally agreed to a $48 million deal in July with Gonzalez, but the deal dropped $36 million following issues with his physical exam. The Phillies have said Gonzalez has been healthy since camp opened, although Amaro said Gonzalez battled arm tightness last month.

Gonzalez joins a list of Phillies pitchers with shoulder issues: Cole Hamels, Mike Adams, Jonathan Pettibone and Ethan Martin.

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