Results tagged ‘ Rodrigo Lopez ’

A Crowded DL: Been There, Done That

The injuries are piling up for the Phillies, although Ruben Amaro Jr. said last night Carlos Ruiz won’t be placed on the DL today because of a back problem.

That doesn’t mean it won’t happen. It just won’t happen today. But the DL already is crowded with Chase Utley, Brad Lidge, Jose Contreras, Joe Blanton, J.C. Romero, Domonic Brown and Brian Bocock

The Phillies should be used to this. I pictured players checking their iPads or phones last night and shrugging their shoulders at the latest DL news, if they hadn’t heard already.

“Blanton’s on the DL? Damn. OK.”

The Phillies have travelled this road before:

  • 2007: They used 46 players, including 28 pitchers (some of those players included Chris Roberson, Pete LaForest, Russell Branyan, Yoel Hernandez, Anderson Garcia, Kane Davis, John Ennis, Joe Bisenius, Zack Segovia and Matt Smith).
  • 2008: They used 40 players, including 18 pitchers (Brad Harman, Andy Tracy, Chris Snelling, R.J. Swindle, Les Walrond and Andrew Carpenter).
  • 2009: They used 41 players, including 22 pitchers (Rodrigo Lopez, Paul Hoover, Sergio Escalona and Steven Register).
  • 2010: They used 42 players, including 21 pitchers (Cody Ransom, Dane Sardinha, Brian Bocock, Nate Robertson, Scott Mathieson and Nelson Figueroa).

The Phillies handled the injuries every time. Nobody can say they will handle them this year, but it explains why nobody in the clubhouse is panicked, either.

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Pedro Goes Wednesday, Moyer Goes to Pen

pedro signs.jpgThe Phillies announced Pedro Martinez will make his Phillies debut Wednesday against the Cubs at Wrigley Field.

They moved Jamie Moyer to the bullpen to make room for Martinez in the rotation.

The Phillies rotation looks like this for the immediate future:

- Tuesday vs. Cubs: LHP J.A. Happ
- Wednesday vs. Cubs: RHP Pedro Martinez
- Thursday vs. Cubs: LHP Cliff Lee
- Friday vs. Braves: RHP Joe Blanton
- Saturday vs. Braves: LHP Cole Hamels

Martinez went 1-1 with a 5.11 ERA (seven earned runs in 12 1/3 innings) and 16 strikeouts in three rehab starts. The Phillies have not yet made a move to accomodate Martinez on the 25-man roster. That will come before his start Wednesday at Wrigley Field.

“Based on our reports on how Pedro has pitched in his rehab starts, we felt it was time to move him into our rotation,” Charlie Manuel said in a statement.  “Jamie was a total professional and team player when we let him know of the decision to move him to the bullpen.  He has been and will continue to be a very important part of this team.”

The team is flying to Chicago tonight, which means Martinez, Moyer, Manuel and pitching coach Rich Dubee will be unavailable until tomorrow. But I had a chance to speak with Ruben Amaro Jr. Here is some of what he said:

Q: Why did the team decide to move Moyer to the bullpen to give Martinez a shot?
A: We just felt that Pedro is pitching well enough that he deserves a chance to pitch in the rotation, and we hope it’s an upgrade.
Q: How tough of a decision was this considering how much Moyer has meant to the organization? It’s different moving a guy like Moyer to the bullpen than somebody like Eude Brito or Amaury Telemaco.
A: Clearly, he’s got a lot more of a track record and he’s done a lot more for us than your average pitcher. Jamie has dedicated himself to his starts and to his performance and he will continue to do that, but we are trying to do what we can to win baseball games and win this division. And these are baseball decisions that are made collectively, and we feel it’s for the betterment of our club.
Q: Can Jamie be effective in the bullpen? He’s 46 and hasn’t done that in years.
A: We’ll see. He’s done it before. He hasn’t done it in a long time, but we’ll see how it goes. You’ll have to talk to Dubee and Charlie about what his role is, but we’ll see how effective he can be.
Q: How did Jamie take the news?
A: Extremely professionally. You’ll have to talk to Jamie about it, but I’m sure he wasn’t real happy about it. But at the same time he understands that we’re doing what we possibly can to have success. We just felt it was the right thing to do and he understands it.
Q: What are the realistic expecations for Pedro?
A: We’re going to watch him pitch and hopefully he’s an effective starter for us. I don’t have expectations one way or another, other than we hope he is successful and he helps us win games.

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Left-hander J.C. Romero had a MRI today. Amaro said Romero has mid-grade tendinitis that is healing. He will not throw for another week or so, when he will return to Clearwater to begin his rehab.

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The Phillies activated right-hander Chad Durbin from the DL. He went on the DL on July 23 with a right latissimus dorsi strain (that’s fancy talk for strained back muscle). The Phillies optioned right-hander Rodrigo Lopez to triple-A Lehigh Valley to make room for Durbin. Lopez had a clause in his contract that stated he must consent to an assignment in the Minor Leagues. He had an option remaining, which is why they were able to option him.

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Making Room for Pedro


pedro lehigh valley.jpgCharlie Manuel
got asked every which way he might shape the rotation once Pedro Martinez joins the Phillies.

J.A. Happ to the bullpen? Jamie Moyer? Martinez? How about a six-man rotation?

“It’s something we’ll go over when it’s time,” Manuel said before tonight’s game against the Rockies.

It would have made little sense for Manuel to spill the beans with Moyer scheduled to pitch tonight, Happ scheduled to pitch tomorrow night and Martinez scheduled to make a rehab start tomorrow night for Double-A Reading. Anything could happen before Martinez returns.

But the interest in this situation is legitimate and understandable. Happ has pitched remarkably well as a starter this season. He is 7-2 with a 2.97 ERA overall, and 5-2 with a 3.09 ERA in 13 starts since May 23. He ranks 16th out of 53 National League pitchers in ERA since May 23, which is better than Josh Johnson (3.12 ERA), Ted Lilly (3.75 ERA), Randy Wolf (3.98 ERA), Jamie Moyer (4.00 ERA), Johan Santana (4.09 ERA), Cole Hamels (4.57 ERA), Derek Lowe (4.65 ERA) and others.

But Happ might be headed to the bullpen because Moyer and Martinez are not seen as viable bullpen options. Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. has said repeatedly the Phillies signed Martinez to be a starter (although also has said things could change). Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee has echoed that sentiment.

“I think what’s going to weigh into it is what our best options are,” Dubee said. “What’s going to give us a chance to win another World Series. That’s our goal.”

Wednesday will be Martinez’s third rehab start. And while he has bonuses in his contract based on relief appearances, if the Phillies considered him a relief pitcher they might be preparing him differently.

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The entire pitching staff is in flux. The Phillies have Brett Myers, J.C. Romero, Clay Condrey and Chad Durbin on the 15-day disabled list.

Myers, who is recovering from surgery on his right hip, started to jog Tuesday. He will throw a simulated game Thursday in Clearwater, Fla. Durbin, who has a strained muscle in his back, will make a rehab appearance Wednesday with Single-A Clearwater. Romero, who has a strained left forearm, will make a rehab appearance Friday. Condrey, who has a strained left oblique, is progressing slowly. The Phillies are going to make sure he heals completely before they bring him back.

If Myers returns throwing hard, he could become a nice weapon in the bullpen. He also could be an insurance policy should closer Brad Lidge continue to struggle. Lidge is 0-4 with a 7.11 ERA. His ERA is the highest in baseball amongst qualifying relief pitchers.

“He’s our closer,” Manuel said of Lidge. “Showing him confidence, that’s how he’ll get back on a streak. He’s very capable of doing that. He’s showed how good he is. I’m very positive. I have all the faith in the world in him. I know exactly what he can do.”

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Right-hander Rodrigo Lopez, who went 3-1 with a 3.62 ERA in five starts, already has been moved to the bullpen to make room for left-hander Cliff Lee.

“It’s tough, but having a former Cy Young winner it’s pretty understandable,” Lopez said. “It’s too bad he took my spot, but I want to win.”

Even with Lopez out there are too many starters and not enough spots for them, unless the Phillies would go to a six-man rotation. And what are the chances of that?

“Personally, I think it would be pretty tough,” Dubee said. “Organizationally, I don’t know.”

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Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

happ 0720.jpgSeven pitchers, five jobs.

The Phillies still have tough decisions to make, even though they are finished making moves before Friday’s trade deadline. They currently have seven starting pitchers for a five-man rotation: Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Joe Blanton, J.A. Happ, Jamie Moyer, Rodrigo Lopez and Pedro Martinez. Two of those pitchers are out of the rotation.

But who? Lopez is the most likely candidate, despite the fact he is 3-0 with a 3.09 ERA. He has pitched well, but he is the first casualty in the numbers game because the Phillies signed Martinez to take the fifth spot in the rotation.

The second casualty is a little more difficult.

We know it won’t be Lee, Hamels of  Blanton.

Happ?

“Happ? He’s a proven starter right now,” Ruben Amaro Jr. said. “Right now we’ve very pleased with how he’s pitched.”

Martinez?

“We signed him to be a starter,” Amaro said. “We did have some discussions about the possibility of doing some relief and pitching in a relief role. But again, this stuff will play itself out. Pedro isn’t pitching in the big leagues yet.”

Rich Dubee echoed Amaro’s sentiments that the Phillies signed Martinez to be a starter. Martinez is 37, and despite the fact he said he could pitch out of the bullpen and despite the fact he has bonuses in his contract based on relief appearances, I just don’t see an older pitcher with previous health issues getting up in the bullpen and pitching three out of five days.

Moyer?

“How would we use him? How would he respond?” Dubee said. “He’s 46 years old with 20-some years in the big leagues as a starter. I don’t think you can ask that of him.”

My guess is that Happ gets moved to the pen, which is crazy to say because he has pitched so well as a starter (5-2, 3.09 ERA in 13 starts). But Happ also pitched well as a reliever (2-0, 2.49 ERA in 12 appearances) and the Phillies could use another effective arm in the bullpen for the stretch drive. (Remember they looked for relief help in case they didn’t get Lee or Roy Halladay.) 

Happ has faced a lot of uncertainty recently as trade rumors swirled around him. It hasn’t added with Lee’s acquisition.

“Things happen for a reason,” Happ said. “I’ve been hearing that from a lot of people since stuff has been going down. I’m here and I’m trying to do what I can do. Hopefully that means something. It’s all right to go through stuff like that. It’s a character builder. I’m not the only one that this has ever happened to. This stuff happens all the time.”

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Shane Victorino‘s left knee was sore and swollen last night. He injured it making a diving catch in the first inning. He isn’t sure if he’ll be able to play tonight.

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How Much Is Too Much?

halladay 04.jpgThe Blue Jays want J.A. Happ, Kyle Drabek and Dominic Brown.

The Phillies reportedly offered Happ, Carlos Carrasco, Michael Taylor and Jason Donald.

Is Happ, Drabek and Brown too much to give up for Roy Halladay? Halladay is arguably the best pitcher in baseball, and the Phillies would be getting him for two Octobers instead of one. We’re not talking about a bottom-of-the-rotation pitcher here. We’re talking about Roy Freakin’ Halladay. Cy Young winner. Ace. Best of the best.

Two sources said Toronto’s demands are reasonable. So why won’t the Phillies pull the trigger?

They are keeping the future in mind, one source indicated. The Phillies’ rotation today includes Cole Hamels, Joe Blanton, Jamie Moyer, Happ and Rodrigo Lopez/Pedro Martinez. If the Phillies get Halladay for Happ, Drabek and Brown, the rotation next season would include Hamels, Halladay and Moyer, who is 9-7 with a 5.65 ERA this season. Blanton, who is salary arbitration eligible, seems like a smart bet to return, although the Phillies already have $95.5 million committed to 11 players next season. Add Halladay into that mix and the payroll jumps to $110.75 million. It seems unlikely, but it is possible the Phillies could non-tender Blanton, who would get a raise from the $5.475 million he is making, if they feel they need to trim some salary to pay Halladay and the rest of the roster. So that’s one starter if Blanton is back, two if he isn’t.

The Phillies can handle one starter. Maybe even two with Halladay and Hamels atop the rotation. But the number jumps to potentially four starters in 2011. There is no guarantee Halladay re-signs with the Phillies. He could leave for the highest bidder. Moyer presumably won’t be back. Blanton will be a free agent after 2010, and he also could leave for the big payday. That leaves Hamels and four vacancies.

The Phillies are considering those things as they consider a package for Halladay. They want to keep Happ or Drabek so they’re a little better equipped next season and beyond.

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Toronto general manager J.P. Ricciardi told FOX’s Ken Rosenthal that the chances of trading Halladay are “very slim.” Others agree. One source believes the chances of Halladay being traded are no better than 50-50. Another said he thinks it’s “unlikely” Halladay gets traded.

But one source said the Phillies’ counter offer, which ESPN.com said the Blue Jays rejected, is fair. He considers Happ a “poor man’s Andy Pettitte” and Taylor to be better than Brown. He also pointed out that entering this season many considered Carrasco to be the organization’s top pitching prospect. He also think Donald can be a good everyday player.

Of course, it only matters what Toronto thinks.

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It also is unlikely the Cliff Lee is traded. One source said it could be easier for the Phillies to make a trade for Lee because the package would be bigger, meaning not Drabek or Brown involved.

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Been hearing a lot about how the Phillies will have more money to spend next season because the Phillies are shedding the payroll of Adam Eaton ($9 million), Geoff Jenkins ($8 million) and Jim Thome ($3 million). Not exactly. The Phillies have 11 players who are signed through next season or beyond. Those 11 players make $78.25 million this season. But because of built-in raises they will make $95.5 million next season. There goes those savings from Eaton, Jenkins and Thome. And keep in mind, that $95.5 million doesn’t the $5 million club option for Pedro Feliz and salary arbitration figures for Blanton, Shane Victorino, Chad Durbin, Clay Condrey, etc.

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Go For It


halladay 0724.jpgShould the Phillies go for it, Cole Hamels?

Should they go get Roy Halladay?

“It depends on if you want to try to win the World Series the next two years because that’s what he’s going to be here for,” Hamels said. “Winning the World Series or at least attempting to win the World Series the next two years will please us, please the organization and please the fans. You can’t really complain about that. I think it would be a step in a good direction.”

Two baseball sources said today that a trade between the Phillies and Blue Jays for Halladay is not imminent, although there are indications a deal is getting close. The Blue Jays are believed to be seeking Double-A Reading right-hander Kyle Drabek, Phillies left-hander J.A. Happ and Triple-A Lehigh Valley outfielder Michael Taylor or Single-A Clearwater outfielder Dominic Brown as part of a deal.

A Blue Jays scout watched Lehigh Valley right-hander Carlos Carrasco pitch tonight in Gwinnett, Ga. As the teams work on a package, Carrasco could be included if the Phillies insist on keeping Happ or Drabek.

Jason Donald and Lou Marson also have been mentioned as possible pieces.

Drabek has been deemed The Untouchable, although there are reports the Phillies are open to moving him. Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said Thursday, “There are some people we would not trade and there are some people we would, and it’s all subject to change.”

Hamels certainly would welcome Halladay. He is one of the best pitchers in baseball and he would make life a little easier for him atop the rotation.

“I think he’s the best pitcher in baseball, and I think he can help out any team,” Hamels said. “He’ll definitely help us. I think we have a tremendous team, and then you add one of the best players in baseball. He doesn’t have an ego, so I think he’d fit in really well in this picture.”

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The Tigers have a scout at tonight’s Phillies game, and the Phillies had a scout at the Tigers game yesterday. The Phillies could be taking a look at Ryan Raburn. Raburn is a right-handed hitter who can play everywhere but shortstop and catcher. The Tigers are looking for starting pitching, although I’m not sure if there is a match … unless the Phillies end up dealing Rodrigo Lopez to make room for Pedro Martinez‘s inevitable arrival.

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Has Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi really stopped talking?

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Phillies and Martinez Getting Close?

pedro.jpgThere is a very real chance Pedro Martinez will be in the Phillies rotation after the All-Star break.

The Phillies said today they had not signed the free-agent right-hander to a contract, but Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. had no comment when asked if the team had reached an agreement with Martinez. Amaro also offered no comment when asked if Martinez is headed to Philadelphia for a physical, which is standard procedure before a player signs.

“I’m not talking about Pedro, and I haven’t talked about Pedro,” Amaro said.

But Martinez, 37, told The Associated Press his agent is negotiating with the Phillies.

“The Phillies saw me this past Tuesday in a simulated game and I felt very good with my fastball and all my pitches,” Martinez said. “I feel the best I have for some time.”

Martinez said it is up to the Phillies and his agent to finalize contract details.

Phillies assistant to the general manager Charley Kerfeld watched Martinez throw on Tuesday in a simulated game against a Phillies summer league team in the Dominican Republic. Kerfeld came away impressed – Martinez’s fastball reportedly reached the low 90s, according to reports – that the Phillies have pursued him.

The Phillies have been looking for starting pitching help for most of the season. Their rotation has a 5.03 ERA, which is 15th in the National League. In an important side note, a baseball source told MLB.com tonight that signing Martinez will not prevent the Phillies from continuing their pursuit of Blue Jays right-hander Roy Halladay in a trade.

The Phillies recently called up right-hander Rodrigo Lopez to replace injured left-hander Antonio Bastardo in the rotation. Bastardo replaced right-hander Brett Myers, who had season-ending hip surgery last month

Lopez pitched well in two starts, but left Wednesday’s game against the Reds after the fifth inning because of inflammation in his right shoulder. He said Thursday he felt fine.

The Phillies don’t need a fifth starter again until July 20 against the Cubs because of the All-Star break.

Martinez is a three-time American League Cy Young winner, but went 5-6 with a 5.61 ERA with the Mets last season. He last pitched for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic.

One report said Martinez signed with the Phillies for $4 million, but that is inaccurate. There is no chance the Phillies would sign Martinez for $4 million — unless that $4 million is prorated.

Has Martinez signed? Amaro said no.

Will he sign? I think he will.

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Shane Victorino won the NL Final Vote, which means he is headed to St. Louis next week.

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Lopez Shines


lopez 0703.jpgRodrigo Lopez
said he felt a whole bunch of butterflies as he stepped onto the mound tonight at Citizens Bank Park.

He had not pitched in the Majors since July 26, 2007.

It hardly looked like it. He allowed six hits, two runs and one walk and struck out four in six innings in a much-needed 7-2 victory over the Mets. Lopez would have pitched next week for the Phillies pretty much regardless of how he pitched tonight, but he solidified himself a few more starts with a solid effort.

Lopez spent nearly two years recovering from Tommy John surgery to get to this point. But this moment almost never came. He spoke tonight about how he almost bailed on his big-league aspirations last month.

Lopez signed a minor-league deal with the Phillies at the end of Spring Training. He had an out clause in his contract that allowed him to become a free agent if he was not on the big-league roster by June 15.

He gave up six hits and five runs in five innings for Triple-A Lehigh Valley in a loss June 13, which dropped him to 2-4 with a 5.19 ERA.

“I was very upset about it,” Lopez said. “So I talked to (Lehigh Valley pitching coach Rod Nichols). I asked for his advice. I told him, ‘What do you think about me going to Mexico to try to get my confidence back?’ He told me, ‘The challenge is here. You can go to Mexico, but the challenge is here.’ Those were words that I’ll always remember.”

Lopez stuck with it. He went 3-0 with a 1.71 ERA in his next three starts for the IronPigs. And once left-hander Antonio Bastardo injured his shoulder, the Phillies chose Lopez over Carlos Carrasco, Andrew Carpenter and Kyle Kendrick to take his place.

Good call.

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Jimmy Rollins went 2 for 5 with two doubles, two RBIs, a run scored and one Marco Scutaro.

Scutaro infamously took second base on a walk a couple weeks ago at Citizens Bank Park when the Phillies fell asleep and nobody covered second base. Rollins pulled a similar move in the third inning when he took second after he hit a ball to center field. Nobody covered second and Rollins took advantage.

“Everybody parted the sea and there’s like this golden case sitting right in front of you,” Rollins said. “I hit the ball up the middle and I saw (Ryan) Church and he was looking to throw the ball to somebody. I never stopped running. I took three hard steps around first and I saw somebody in the middle and I said, ‘He’s not beating me to the bag,’ and I kept going. Those things happen.”

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Tonight’s victory snapped a six-game losing streak at home. … Rollins broke out “Billie Jean” and “Smooth Criminal” as his intro music tonight. Nice touch.

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Lopez to Start Friday

The Phillies have decided who will start Friday night against the Mets at Citizens Bank Park.

It’s not Carlos Carrasco, Andrew Carpenter or Kyle Kendrick.

It’s Rodrigo Lopez.

Lopez is 5-4 with a 3.91 ERA in 13 starts this season with Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He is 65-65 with a 4.80 ERA in his seven-year Major League career. He last pitched for the Rockies in 2007.

Lopez signed a minor-league deal with the Phillies at the end of Spring Training after they watched him pitch in the World Baseball Classic. He had Tommy John surgery in Aug. 2007, and spent most of 2008 recovering. The Braves signed him to a minor-league deal toward the end of last season, but the Braves did not exercise the option they had on him.

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Carrasco? Drabek? Who?


carrasco.jpgA popular choice to fill Antonio Bastardo‘s spot in the rotation Thursday in Atlanta is Triple-A right-hander Carlos Carrasco.

He is one of the team’s top pitching prospects, and it could be his turn to get a shot.

But while Ruben Amaro Jr. said nice things about Carrasco (4-7, 4.92 ERA) today when I asked about him, he also quickly mentioned Rodrigo Lopez (5-4, 3.91 ERA), Kyle Kendrick (4-4, 3.97 ERA) and Andrew Carpenter (7-1, 2.75 ERA) as possibilities. Carpenter is having the best season of the four. Lopez has the most big-league experience. Kendrick has more experience than Carrasco or Carpenter.

One person who isn’t a candidate is Double-A Reading right-hander Kyle Drabek (4-0, 2.43 ERA). In fact, Drabek isn’t expected to be a candidate to help the Phillies at all in 2009.

Here is what Amaro told me earlier today about Drabek:

“He’s got great stuff,” Amaro said. “He’s going to be a quality Major League pitcher, if he stays healthy. But we do not believe he is ready to pitch in the big leagues at this time. He needs more Minor League experience. I would not count on him for the 2009 season. He’s not somebody we would actively move to the big leagues because he needs time to pitch in the Minor Leagues and he’s coming off [Tommy John] surgery. Now, there are circumstances that may change that, but right now we’re fully committed to having him pitch in the Minor Leagues in 2009.”

That does not shock me because I had trouble coming up with a player recently who made the jump from Single-A to the big leagues in the same season and had success doing it. I also had trouble coming up with a pitcher who made the jump from Single-A to the big leagues in the same season after missing most of the previous season recovering from Tommy John surgery.

Amaro said circumstances could change, which could put Drabek back in the mix. But now it appears Drabek’s earliest shot at the Majors will be 2010.

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Amaro on the trade market at the moment: “When you have this many teams in the race it’s very thin. It’s always thin. Again, there were three teams who got pitching last year. Three teams out of 30. That’s 10 percent. We can say, ‘Pretty please can we have a pitcher?’ but that doesn’t mean one will become available.”

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Scott Eyre is scheduled to make a rehab appearance tonight for the rookie-level Gulf Coast League Phillies.

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