Phillies Place 6 on DL

Cole HamelsThe Phillies on Friday afternoon announced they have placed six players on the 15-day disabled list:

  • Right-hander Mike Adams, recovering from right shoulder surgery (retroactive to March 26).
  • Infielder Freddy Galvis, left knee infection (retroactive to March 21).
  • Right-hander Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, right shoulder tendinitis (retroactive to March 21).
  • Left-hander Cole Hamels, left biceps tendinitis (retroactive to March 21).
  • Right-hander Ethan Martin, right shoulder inflammation (retroactive to March 21).
  • Outfielder/first baseman Darin Ruf, left oblique strain (retroactive to March 21).

Adams hopes he can rejoin the Phillies bullpen by April 15. Galvis, who is recovering from MRSA, could be back by the middle of the month, too.

The Phillies have indicated Hamels could rejoin the rotation before the end of April.

The Phillies said on March 21 that Ruf could miss 4-6 weeks. Martin just started throwing, and Ruben Amaro Jr. said recently Gonzalez could be a candidate for the 60-day DL to give them flexibility for the 40-man roster.

Frandsen Is Gone, Opts for Free Agency

Kevin FrandsenKevin Frandsen figured he no longer fit into the Phillies’ immediate plans when they outrighted him Sunday.

He had 72 hours to accept his Minor League assignment or he could become a free agent. He opted today for free agency, forfeiting a guaranteed $900,000 contract.

“A little bit,” said Ruben Amaro Jr., asked if he was surprised Frandsen elected free agency. “It’s his right as the rules go. As we told him when we talked to him about taking him off the roster, he had an opportunity to still make our club. We just wanted to try to give ourselves some flexibility. But that’s his choice, that’s his right and it’s part of the process.”

Frandsen led the big leagues with 14 pinch-hits last season. He also hit .353 with a .920 OPS the past two seasons against left-handers. A popular player in the Phillies clubhouse, the front office outrighted him because it felt it needed to create 40-man roster flexibility for impending moves.

It seemed a certainty Frandsen would be back with the Phillies at some point this season, but he apparently felt he had a better opportunity elsewhere. Regardless, he seems likely to take a pay cut. He cleared waivers Sunday, meaning none of the 29 teams wanted to pick him up at $900,000.

It leaves the Phillies even thinner in the infield. Freddy Galvis will open the season on the disabled list as he recovers from MRSA. They just released Ronny Cedeno today.

Cedeno Released, Look at Bench Options

Ronny CedenoThe Phillies created a little more intrigue to their bench jobs battle today.

They announced they had released infielder Ronny Cedeno, who seemed like the leading internal candidate to take Freddy Galvis’ spot on the 25-man roster while he recovers from MRSA. The Phillies had until Tuesday to place Cedeno on the 25-man roster, pay him a $100,000 retention bonus to play in Triple-A or release him.

The move indicates the Phillies believe they have a better option elsewhere.

“We’re still looking inside and outside the organization as far as filling that role,” Ruben Amaro Jr. said. “But we have candidates. We have guys internally and there are some guys we’re looking at outside the organization as well.”

Reid Brignac and Cesar Hernandez remain the only utility infielders in big-league camp, but Brignac is not necessarily regarded as a glove guy, although Rays manager Joe Maddon praised his defense in the past, and Hernandez hasn’t played shortstop since he was 17 in 2007. Infielder Kevin Frandsen also opted for free agency today after the Phillies outrighted him Sunday, which hurts their overall infield depth. The Phillies said he still had a chance to make the team, although he would not have filled the bill as a defensive shortstop.

 

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Decision Day Near for Abreu

Bobby AbreuThe Phillies have until Wednesday to make a decision on Bobby Abreu.

They must add him to their Opening Day roster or he can ask for his release. Technically, the Phillies don’t have to finalize their 25-man roster until 3 p.m. Sunday, but they essentially need to tell Abreu in good faith whether he is in their plans. If he is, he must be added to the 40-man roster.

“I’ve done everything I could,” Abreu said this morning at Bright House Field. “It’s a decision that’s not in my hands. I just have to go into the field and do my best. That’s it. But I’m not really thinking about it right now. I just have to wait and see what happens.”

Abreu, who will make $800,000 this season if he makes the big leagues, is hitting .257 (9-for-35) with three doubles, one triple, one RBI, nine walks and four strikeouts. He has a .422 on-base percentage and an .822 OPS. That might be enough to make the team, but Abreu has been slowed this week because of a sore left shoulder. He said he tweaked it swinging the bat.

He said he hopes to play tomorrow.

“It’s not a big deal,” he said. “It’s just a little sore.”

But there is much more than offense when it comes to determining Abreu’s future. He has to show some competence in right field to earn a spot. Reviews have not been glowing.

“So far he’s been OK,” Ruben Amaro Jr. said.

Is he a liability out there?

“I wouldn’t say so,” Ryne Sandberg said. “Not in a part-time, spot start.”

Abreu’s chances obviously improve if the Phillies carry a six-man bench to start the season, but that remains to be seen. Here is my best guess on a six-man bench: catcher Wil Nieves; infielders Ronny Cedeno and Cesar Hernandez; outfielders Tony Gwynn Jr., John Mayberry Jr., and Abreu. Reid Brignac also is in camp. He could take an infield spot, but I think the Phillies take Cedeno over him because he is a considered a better defensive shortstop. I think they take Hernandez over him because he already is on the 40-man roster, they can option him to Triple-A when Freddy Galvis returns, he is a switch-hitter and he runs well.

If the Phillies carry a five-man bench things might get trickier for Abreu. I think Gwynn is a lock based on his play and versatility. Mayberry, although the Phillies have been trying to trade him for months, is relatively safe because they need a right-handed hitter with power. Darin Ruf would have provided that, but he will miss 4-6 weeks with the strained left oblique.

Stay tuned …

Frandsen Outrighted

Kevin FrandsenIn a surprise move, the Phillies announced today they have outrighted infielder Kevin Frandsen to Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

Frandsen has 72 hours to accept or reject the assignment. If he accepts it he will remain in camp with what Ruben Amaro Jr. said is an opportunity to still make the Opening Day roster. If he rejects it, he becomes a free agent. But if Frandsen becomes a free agent, he gives up the guaranteed $900,000 contract he signed in December, which would be a considerable risk. Yes, he would be free to sign with any team, but he just cleared waivers, meaning 29 teams passed on the opportunity to claim him, put him on their 40-man roster and pay him $900,000.

It leaves the Phillies with 37 players on the 40-man roster.

“We’re in a situation now with many of the injuries that have happened and the things that have occurred this spring to try and create some roster space for us,” Amaro said. “That’s what we’ve done. We still think he can be a valuable part of our club. But he’s competing. Just like he was before, he continues to compete for a job on the bench.”

“We can add him back,” assistant general manager Scott Proefrock said.

It would be unusual for a team to outright a player from the roster then put him back on the roster in less than a week — Opening Day rosters must be finalized by 3 p.m. Eastern Sunday — but that is the situation Frandsen faces. Freddy Galvis will open the season on the disabled list with MRSA, which leaves Ronny Cedeno, Reid Brignac, Cesar Hernandez and Frandsen (if he stays) competing for utility infield jobs. Darin Ruf, like Galvis, also seemed likely to make the Opening Day roster, but he will open the season on the DL with a strained left oblique.

Cedeno and Brignac are not on the 40-man roster. Cedeno must be added to the roster by Tuesday, or he can ask for his release. If he decides to stay in the organization he receives a $100,000 retention bonus. Tony Gwynn Jr. and Bobby Abreu also seem likely to make the roster. Abreu must be added to the roster by Wednesday or he can ask for his release.

There are some pitchers that also might be added to the 40-man roster: Shawn Camp, Mario Hollands, Jeff Manship and David Buchanan.

Frandsen led the big leagues with 14 pinch-hits last season. He also his .353 with a .920 OPS the past two seasons against left-handers. He has hit .206 (7-for-34) with two RBIs, six strikeouts and a .412 OPS this spring.

Asche Wins Third Base Battle

Cody AscheCody Asche will be the Phillies’ Opening Day third baseman.

Ryne Sandberg did not exactly say it this afternoon following a 5-3 loss to the Pirates at McKechnie Field, but there is no other way to look at it. The Phillies announced this morning they had reassigned third baseman Maikel Franco, right-hander Sean O’Sullivan and outfielder Clete Thomas to Minor League camp.

The Phillies had billed Asche/Franco as a competition to be their third baseman.

Franco is gone, Asche remains.

“Uh, yeah,” Sandberg said, when asked about Asche as the Opening Day third baseman. “Well, I think it’s a combination of two things. Franco goes and gets seasoning and gets at-bats and works on things, probably more on the offensive side, shortening up his swing and getting some better line drive-type of contact. Now Cody plays in these games and gets ready for the start of the season and then we go from there.”

While the Phillies touted this as a true competition, the reality is Franco would have had to completely outplay Asche to have any shot at the job. Asche impressed the Phillies in 50 games late last season, while Franco has not played above Double-A.

Franco hit .184 (7-for-38) with two RBIs, two walks and six strikeouts in 16 games. After starting the spring 0-for-13, Asche has hit .250 (7-for-28) with two doubles, three home runs and six RBIs. He had started to come around earlier this spring, but got hit in the hand with a pitch, which set him back.

“I had kind of a tough go at it in the first two weeks and I was started getting comfortable and then got hit in the hand,” Asche said. “I had to sit for two days and you have to start over when you should be at a point of progression. I had to work through that for a little bit and I have been pretty happy with my last five to seven games with the at-bats I have had.”

Asked about being in the Opening Day lineup, Asche said, “Until my name is on the lineup card Day 1, it’s anybody’s job still. I can’t take anything for granted, whoever is down or whoever is here.”

Hamels’ Latest Step

Cole Hamels remains about a month behind schedule, but the Phillies hope he could rejoin the rotation before the end of April.

He threw a live batting practice session this morning at Bright House Field. He threw two simulated innings of 15 pitches each. He said earlier this week he would throw two BP sessions before he pitched in a game.

“I feel great,” Hamels said. “Just all the progressions I’ve been able to make for the last week and a half have definitely been positive. … I think we’re just looking kind of how I respond in the next couple days and getting bullpen reps and seeing where and what they want to do.”

Hamels opened camp in February about two weeks behind schedule because of inflammation in his left shoulder. He had been progressing nicely once he started throwing again, until he suffered a setback March 1, saying he felt fatigue in his left arm. That pushed him back further, but since he restarted his throwing program recently he has been fine.

“Oh, of course,” said Hamels, asked if he is more optimistic he could be back earlier than he thought two weeks ago.

Phillies pitching coach Bob McClure seemed encouraged with what he saw Saturday.

“Ball was coming out of his hand really well,” he said. “Crisp, real clean. Didn’t hold back on any pitches. Had velocity and life. I was really happy with it. He’s had no issues of late. I don’t expect any either. We’re pretty stoked about it.”

If Hamels can rejoin the rotation before the end of April it would be a big boost for the Phillies. They need plenty of things to be close to perfect to compete this season.

“If everything goes as scheduled, I would think towards the end of the month there,” McClure said of Hamels’ potential return. “Somewhere in the last week, I would think so.”

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.”

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