BALTIMORE — It does not take a genius to know the Phillies require reinforcements for their depleted bullpen. Charlie Manuel intimated Friday the front office is actively searching for just that.
"We're trying to do some things," Manuel said.
The Phillies have just two righthanded relievers before Jonathan Papelbon. One is a maligned Chad Qualls, who has a 5.32 ERA and allowed 29 hits in 22 innings. The other is Michael Schwimer, who has all of 22 1/3 major-league innings to his name.
It is a problematic situation that makes late-inning management an exercise in futility.
"We're in a tough spot right now," Manuel said. "I think everybody knows that. We're in a tough spot, but we still have to come out and play as good as we possibly can and see if that's enough."
Manuel was obviously briefed on the situation and said the organization's goal is to improve with an external move. Assistant general manager Scott Proefrock said there is no increased pressure to make a move for a relief arm.
Proefrock would not say if the team is involved in trade talks for a reliever. He did say there are no financial limitations that would preclude such a move.
"We're always trying to get better," Proefrock said. "That's what our job is."
The Phillies had originally hoped the bullpen would be a source of strength. But injuries to Jose Contreras, Mike Stutes, David Herndon and Justin De Fratus have severely depleted the righthanded relief pool.
Qualls signed for $1.15 million in the winter and has been nothing short of abysmal. Correcting that perceived mistake is more difficult without depth.
Proefrock believes the team still has internal options, but it's likely the Phillies would have made said move by now. Recently, general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. ruled out the idea of converting a young starter in the minors to relief for a short-term fix.
That leaves a trade as the best possibility.
"I'm not saying something's going to happen," Manuel said. "I don't know. I'll wait and see just like you will. But I know we're definitely trying to improve our team."
Have a question? Send it to Matt Gelb's Mailbag.