Apparently, they believe he can.
The Phillies activated him from the disabled list before tonight’s game against the Indians at Progressive Field, designating outfielder Ezequiel Carerrera for assignment to make room for him on the 25-man roster. Young hit fifth behind Ryan Howard in the Phillies lineup, serving as the designated hitter. Charlie Manuel said he expects Young to play in right tomorrow night.
It should be interesting to watch. Young has been recovering from microfracture surgery on his right ankle, reacquainting himself with right field, a position he has not played since 2007. Young said he feels fine out there and his mobility continues to improve the more he plays.
He also said he is motivated.
“You’ve got to be motivated if you want to play,” he said. “If you aren’t motivated you could have one good season and then take it back to the house and never play again. So if you want to play as long as you can possibly play, have a career sort of like Chipper Jones, you have to be motivated day in and day out. This is not an easy sport. It’s not a sport that’s going to let you have your way with it. You have to work hard. You have to have to have some type of motivation to come out here and play.”
“It’s Charlie!” a few strangers behind him shouted.
“That kind of felt good,” Manuel said with a chuckle.
Manuel, 69, remains a well-known figure in Cleveland. He managed the Indians from 2000-02, and served as their hitting coach in 1988-89 and 1994-99. He recalled his best times with the Indians before tonight’s game at Progressive Field, including trips to the World Series in 1995 and 1997. But he also talked about other things, like his desire to keep managing and how former Indians and Phillies slugger Jim Thome is doing.
Manuel’s contract with the Phillies expires after the season.
“I want to manage as long as I can,” he said. “I’ve never told nobody I was going to retire. We’ll see. … I’m not worried about nothing. I want to keep managing.”
(Manuel saying he wants to continue managing beyond this season is nothing new. He has been saying this since the Winter Meetings. But it seems every time a writer asks him and he says it, it gets turned into a headline, so I thought I’d include it here.)
Thome is hoping to continue his career, but so far he has not found a job. He called Manuel a couple weeks ago and asked if he could swing by the clubhouse in the future.
“You can come and live with me,” Manuel said he responded. “I hope he does. … He still thinks he can play. He misses the game. Baseball is his identity. That’s all he’s done for 20-some years or so. He’s kind of having a hard time adjusting.”
Everybody finally gets a chance to see if Young can play right field or not. (Tonight’s lineup hasn’t been posted. Being the game is in Cleveland he certainly could DH.) Remember, the Phillies said Young would not join the team unless he could play there competently. I don’t know how much I believed that, unless he could barely stand out there. The Phillies need more production offensively from their outfielders, so I think they’re prepared to sacrifice defense for what they hope is a boost offensively. Phillies outfielders enter tonight’s game against the Indians with a combined .602 OPS, which is the second-worst mark in baseball. Only the Marlins (.597) are worse. Basically, if the Phillies infielders aren’t getting hits, nobody is.
If Young hits like he hit with the Twins in 2010 (.826 OPS) his offense could outweigh the potential negatives defensively. If he hits like he hit last year (.707 OPS) in Detroit, you wonder how much will be gained? He had 74 RBIs last season, but ranked 20th in baseball with 415 runners on base during his plate appearances. In other words, he had a ton of opportunities to knock in runs. But his runners batted in percentage (13.5 percent) ranked 98th, meaning he did not take advantage of those opportunities.
Stay tuned for the lineup …
I remember Roy Halladay standing in front of his locker at Bright House Field on March 1, 2011, talking about the influence famed sports psychologist Harvey Dorfman had on his life and career.
Dorfman had just passed away at 75.
Halladay mentioned he had saved nearly every e-mail from Dorfman over the previous five years, so he still would be able to pull advice from the man, even after death. I recalled that comment last week after Halladay had made his third consecutive quality start after two terrible starts to the season. I asked him if he ever looked through those e-mails.
He hit .294 last season!
He has so much speed!
But Revere also has ZERO power. He had 150 hits last season, just 19 extra-base hits and no home runs. He does not get on base unless he is hitting. He averaged 3.61 pitches per plate appearance last year, which ranked 121st out of 144 qualifying players in baseball. In comparison, Jimmy Rollins averaged 3.70, which ranked 100th. I found it ironic that fans tired of Rollins’ impatience at the plate begged Charlie Manuel to have somebody with even less patience hit leadoff.
I asked Twins manager Ron Gardenhire in Spring Training about Revere. He said, “He’s a .300 hitter. He didn’t walk a lot. He didn’t take a lot of pitches. But the kid can put the barrel on it. He finds different ways to get on, whether it’s dropping a drag bunt, he outruns balls. The walks … I think as he gets more experience, he’ll probably learn to take a few more pitches here and there. And if they ask him to do that, Ben can do that. But Ben likes to swing.”
Revere is not starting today’s series finale against the Pirates. It is the first game he has not started this season. He is hitting .207 with one triple, four RBIs, five stolen bases, four walks and 14 strikeouts. His 53 ground balls and 7.57 ground ball-to-fly ball ratio lead baseball. He has had enormous difficulty getting the ball out of the infield. Manuel will never take my advice when it comes to the lineup — he has Chase Utley and Ryan Howard hitting back-to-back against Pirates right-hander James McDonald today, making things easy for Pirates manager Clint Hurdle late in the game — but when Revere returns he should hit eighth, especially with Ruiz in the lineup beginning Sunday. It shouldn’t even be a question in his mind. If Revere gets on base he can try to make things happen from that spot. But with the rest of the personnel at Manuel’s disposal it doesn’t make sense to hit him higher.
Here’s my lineup, against both righties and lefties (with Ruiz and Young):
- Jimmy Rolllins, SS
- Chase Utley, 2B
- Michael Young, 3B
- Ryan Howard, 1B
- Delmon Young, RF
- Carlos Ruiz, C
- Domonic Brown/John Mayberry Jr., LF
- Ben Revere, CF
He finally split up Chase Utley and Ryan Howard with right-handed-hitting Michael Young.
I think it was long overdue.
Theoretically, it should make life more difficult for left-handed pitchers. Utley entered the game against the Pirates hitting .125 (2-for-16) with one triple, one RBI, two walks and five strikeouts against lefties this season. Howard entered the night hitting .111 (2-for-18) with two doubles, one RBI, one walk and 10 strikeouts against them.
But their struggles against lefties are not coming from a small sample size. Utley has hit .197 with a .634 OPS against lefties from 2011-13. Howard has hit .199 with a .608 OPS against lefties in that span.
They essentially have been automatic outs against lefties for two-plus seasons. Young has not been much better this year, hitting .200 (3-for-15) against lefties, although he has a much more than respectable .832 OPS against them from 2011-13. But simply having a right-handed hitter between Utley and Howard will make opposing managers think a little more late in games. Before Wednesday, managers could just run a left-handed reliever to the mound to face Utley and Howard in succession. Now the lefty will have to face a right-handed hitter, or the manager has to remove him from the game, if he does not want him facing Young.
“I can see how that would be beneficial,” Utley said.
It also makes perfect sense to keep this look against right-handed starting pitchers, too, but Manuel was noncommittal.
“I could,” he said. “It depends how we match up.”
He absolutely should use this look against right-handers, too. By having Utley and Howard hit back-to-back against a right-handed starter the Phillies essentially are banking on getting to the starter in the first five or six innings. If they don’t, which often has been the case this season, things get easy again for the opposing manager late in the game.
Can the Phillies hit a fastball? Can they hit, period?
He would like to find out.
“We’re going to see if they can hit,” he said following a 2-0 loss to the Pirates at Citizens Bank Park. “Believe me, I’m pulling for every one of them. But that’s what we’re going to see.”
For nearly two weeks Manuel has watched the Phillies fall short offensively. They have scored just 31 runs in their past 12 games, including their third shutout loss of the season tonight. Pirates left-hander Jeff Locke did little to impress Manuel, who said Locke did nothing “fantastic.” But he still dominated his hitters.
“He challenged us,” Manuel said. “If I went up there and looked fastball, I would have gotten good balls to hit. We’ve got to hit some of those fastballs. I hope that don’t put a lot of pressure on somebody.”
They said they never considered Double-A Reading left-hander Jesse Biddle, who is the organization’s top prospect.
That is not a surprise. Biddle had not pitched above Class A Clearwater before this season. The Phillies would like to get him more experience before they make that jump.
But Biddle certainly has impressed in four starts with Reading. He dominated last night in Harrisburg. He allowed one hit, two walks and struck out 16 in seven scoreless innings. He took a perfect game into the seventh inning before he walked a batter.
“The thing that stood out to me more than the number of strikeouts he had, through six innings he threw 73 pitches,” Phillies director of player personnel Joe Jordan said. “I mean, he really just dominated the strike zone with four pitches. It wasn’t that he went 90-95 pitches to get to that number. That’s what was so impressive to me. The last time I saw him, which was his previous start in Reading, I saw more swings and misses with his fastball than I had ever seen. His stuff is just coming. It’s coming and his ability to use it is getting better. Everything came together last night. Literally, he had four pitches to go to and command of all of them so they were in trouble.”
Of course, the question about any top prospect is this: When will Phillies fans see him in a big-league uniform?
“I think it’s a little premature, but we’re obviously going to keep our eyes on this and we’ll follow it very closely,” Jordan said. “I think you go in with all of these guys, as far as their development plans with the plan, and the players alter it good or bad. Sometimes their ability, their performance, it will make it go one way or the other. Nothing is in stone. He’s where he needs to be. He earned, after what he did in Clearwater last year, the right to go to Reading. So far he’s done a great job. It’s been a month. The weather is going to arm up, the hitters are going to catch up. I think that’s, that’s the way I look at it. He even said it last night – this is my kind of weather, the hitters don’t like hitting in this weather.
“We’re going to follow it very closely. Because he’s one of our best, if not our best. We all know that.”
From Elias Sports Bureau: Jonathan Pettibone allowed two runs, no walks and struck out six in a 3-2 victory last night over the Pirates. Only two other Phillies pitchers have registered at least six strikeouts without a walk in their big-league debut: Charles Hudson on May 31, 1983 (eight strikeouts against the Dodgers) and Carlton Loewer on June 14, 1998 (eight strikeouts against the Cubs).
I’d say Pettibone earned another start.
The game never should have been so close, but the offense continues to putter along in the clutch. They were 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position last night. They are hitting .250 (22-for-88) with RISP since April 10, which ranks 17th in baseball and ninth in the National League. Remove a 6-for-11 effort against the Cardinals on Friday and they’re hitting just .208 (16-for-77) with RISP. The Phillies also are hitting .133 (2-for-15) with the bases loaded this season. That ranks 25th in baseball and 14th in the National League.
Ruiz is serving a 25-game suspension for using a banned stimulant. Assuming there are no postponements in the Phillies’ schedule, Ruiz can join the Phillies on Sunday against the Mets at Citi Field.
Phillies catchers have a combined .614 on-base-plus-slugging percentage, which ranked 25th in baseball entering tonight’s games. Ruiz has a career .781 OPS and a career-high .935 OPS last season.