Zagurski hopes to contribute in 2009

February 16, 2009 by PhilliesNow  
Filed under Featured, News

The Phillies could use an extra left-hander in their bullpen while J.C. Romero serves his 50-game suspension for violating the league’s policy against performance-enhancing drugs.
Romero’s absence leaves Scott Eyre as the bullpen’s only lefty.

Left-hander Mike Zagurski would love to be that second guy, but he isn’t expected to be ready. He hasn’t thrown a pitch in a game since he tore his right hamstring on Aug. 18, 2007, in Pittsburgh. The injury required surgery, and when Zagurski finally returned to the mound last spring, he hurt his left elbow, which required Tommy John ligament replacement surgery.

“He needs time to get back on the mound to pitch on a regular basis,” Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee said Sunday. “Hopefully we can get him on a mound in April pitching somewhere, and maybe somewhere during the course of the season we see him again. But I think it would be an awful lot to ask Mike after not pitching for a year and a half, coming off a leg injury and Tommy John surgery, to think he can make this team coming out of Spring Training.”

Zagurski, who went 1-0 with a 5.91 ERA in 25 appearances for the Phillies in 2007, is pitching off the mound, throwing mostly fastballs.

“Hopefully I’ll start throwing breaking balls by the end of the month,” Zagurski said. “I’ll try to mix in some changeups this week. If I’m not ready Opening Day, hopefully it’ll be shortly thereafter — in Philadelphia or anywhere else. Just pitching and being healthy will be a steady improvement.”

There aren’t many other options for left-handers for the Phillies. J.A. Happ could make the bullpen if he doesn’t win the fifth-starter’s job. And while Dubee said anybody has a chance to make the club out of Spring Training, left-handers Sergio Escalona and Antonio Bastardo haven’t pitched higher than Double-A Reading.

Left-hander Jake Woods, who pitched 16 games last season for the Seattle Mariners, also is in camp.

“We’re looking to fill that spot from the left side, or a right-hander who can get guys out earlier in the game,” Dubee said.

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com.

The Champs of Philadelphia

February 16, 2009 by PhilliesNow  
Filed under Featured, General

That was just amazing last year, wasn’t it? The Mets couldn’t take the heat while the Phils turned on the stretch juice for the second season in a row, and this time they took it all the way to the first Philadelphia pennant in 15 years and the first World Series championship in almost 30.

Well, they are going to continue with their same winning nucleus, and I’m very happy to see that–these boys can hit!. Howard, the best home run hitter in the majors for the last three years despite striking out more than Dave Kingman, has been resigned (and guess what A-Rod? No dope!), and on the mound Hamels has a sweet deal that he more than deserved to get (maybe he got a hitting bonus package, too). Base stealing ace and defensive wizard Jimmy Rollins is back at SS and Chase “The Machine” Utley stays at 2B. Victorino and Werth are also back in there, so we have a wicked combination of speed and power in this line-up.

But GM Ruben Amaro Jr. told the “Wilmington News Journal”, “We’ve got our backup catcher competition, our fifth-starter competition, some bullpen competition. I’m getting excited about seeing guys perform because I know that we’ve built a situation now that all the players know we’re built to win. This is not about developing players at the major league level. This is about putting players on the field to win, and you can learn a lot about a player when they’re put in these situations.”

I’m excited about RHP Carlos Carrasco and I think he’s going to win a place in the starting rotation. But unlike many people, I think Madson can show a season-long form similar to what he displayed down the stretch in September. And of course, we still have the closing machine, Lidge.

The great thing about these Phillies is that they are such a team. I’m expected a third straight division title, but I know that baseball history is against us getting the rest. Still this is a city where history was made before.