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Jack McCaffery is the lead sports columnist for the Daily Times and He has spent several decades covering everything from the Phillies, Eagles, Flyers and Sixers, to college hoops, to high school sports in Delco.

Saturday, August 25, 2012


The Phillies Scoop/Jack McCaffery

PHILADELPHIA --- Domonic Brown was out of the Phillies' lineup Saturday, and not just because the Nationals were starting talented left-hander Gio Gonzalez.
“He said his knee is bothering him a little bit,” Charlie Manuel said. “I figured today I'd rest him.”
After a choppy start to his big-league career, Brown was starting to become a heavy Phillies contributor. He he was hitting .286 on the current homestand, with three RBIs in his last five games.
Brown had been on the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs' disabled list with a right-knee sprain in June. He reported the pain Friday.
“He just told me that his knee was bothering him,” Manuel said. “And I didn't feel like there was any sense playing him if his knee was bothering him.”
Manuel suggested that Brown was “day to day”, and believed the outfielder would be available to pinch-hit Saturday.
“We'll check him out and make sure he is OK,” Manuel said. “He just acted that he was just having some trouble with it and it was sore.”
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Placido Polanco recently returned from a back injury with one real challenge: Remain durable enough to still be considered a viable major-league player, if not with the Phillies, then someplace.
But his back problems have resurfaced and, by Saturday, he was not even available to pinch-hit, Manuel said.
“I tell him every time I talk to him that, 'If you’re hurting and playing, it definitely hurts you, it’s not good for our team and it’s not good for you,'” Manuel said. “That’s kind of how I see it. In order for Polly to help us, he’s got to get healthy. He’s got to be 100 percent. We’ve been trying to do that with him. Unfortunately, he’s missed a lot of time the last couple of years.”
For anywhere from a reported $500,000 to $1 million, the Phils could buy Polanco, 36, out of the final year of his contract after this season. Otherwise, they would owe him $5.5 million.
Manuel said the Phillies have not decided whether to return Polanco, who is hitting .258. in 86 games, to the disabled list.
Kevin Frandsen started Saturday at third base.
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With Brown out of the lineup, Michael Martinez started in right field. Martinez, in his second season, had never played right in a regular-season major-league game.
“He’s played there before --- I played him in spring training in right field,” Manuel said. “I played him in left field, in center. He can play there. All through his career, he’s played a lot of positions like that. He definitely could play the outfield.”
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Nate Schierholtz expected to be playing again by Tuesday, as he has recovered from a broken toe. So he will … in Lehigh Valley, where he will report today for a rehab assignment. Curiously, the Phillies are not planning to have the outfielder rejoin them until Saturday, which would be Sept. 1, when the major league rosters are expanded.
“That's the plan, I guess,” Schierholtz said. “I was planning on being ready for Tuesday. That's what I thought. I guess we are going to wait until Saturday.”
Schierholtz said his toe “feels good,” and that he will wear a protective guard while hitting.
“We'll get him ready,” Manuel said. “He should be able to join us when we go to Atlanta.”
In his 11 games since joining the Phillies from San Francisco in the Hunter Pence deal, Schierholtz hit .219.
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Steven Lerud is 27 and is finally a major league player. He joined the Phillies Friday as a backup catcher when Brian Schneider went on the disabled list with a hamstring injury.
“It was a shock,” said Lerud, who was promoted from Reading. “But I have played a long time. And you like to think good things will happen.”
Lerud was a non-roster Phillies invitee in spring training and was hitting .235 in Reading. He will back up Erik Kratz.
Carlos Ruiz, recovering from plantar faciitis in his left foot, is eligible to return from the disabled list Sept. 3. Saturday, he caught a bullpen session, his second since his injury.
Schneider, said Manuel, is close to requiring a paternity leave, and that could impact his return to the Phils. So Lerud it is.
“I am just here and I will be ready whenever they need me,” the catcher said. “I have been preparing about 10 years for it. It's awesome. Luckily, I was around most of these guys in spring training, so it's not too many new faces for me. Now, it's the big leagues and it's the real season. So it is pretty special for me.”
Manuel said he would not be reluctant to play Lerud, if necessary.
“He's more of a backup guy,” the manager said. “He’s more of an emergency kind of guy. But at the same time, if we get a chance I’m not afraid. I’ve seen him catch in spring. I’m not afraid to put him in a game. He could get in there. It depends how much workload we could put on Kratzie. I definitely could put him in a game.”
Might Lerud start a game?
“Yeah,” Manuel said. “Yeah, you could do that. He can hold his own.”
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NOTES: Manuel batted the right-handed-hitting Frandsen second and left-handed Juan Pierre seventh against Gonzalez, the Nats' lefty. “In the seven hole, if Pierre gets on, he can run. He can be more apt to run, especially down at the bottom of the order, with Martinez and the pitcher down there.” … Cliff Lee (2-7, 3.78) and Jordan Zimmerman (9-7, 2.54) will pitch Sunday. The Phillies will be off Monday, then host the Mets for night games Tuesday and Wednesday and a Thursday afternoon game.


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