NEW YORK -

Brett Myers

hasn't been himself in his first two starts this season.

He hasn't shown his fastball as much. He hasn't been his aggressive self.

"I'm closing for nine innings tomorrow," said Myers, who will start tonight against the Chicago Cubs at Citizens Bank Park.

In other words, he's going to let it all hang out. He hasn't so far, which explains his 0-1 record and 6.30 ERA. Myers said he had nothing on the mound in the March 31 season opener against Washington, but he thought that his stuff improved Sunday in Cincinnati.

Manager Charlie Manuel thought otherwise, noting that Myers had thrown mostly off-speed pitches against the Reds.

"I've just been flipping crap up there," Myers said. "It wasn't working. I've got to put some type of aggression behind it."

Why wasn't he?

"I don't know," he said. "In spring training, I was doo-dooing stuff up there, and I was getting outs, so I figured I could take it into the season. Well, guess what? It doesn't work, because when the lights go on, it's a little different."

"I think he's gotten away from using his fastball the way he needs to use it," pitching coach Rich Dubee said. "He's gotten real cutter-happy. He's showing them too much respect early in the game."

Madson being cautious

Righthander

Ryan Madson

missed the last two months of last season because of a strained right shoulder. He hasn't pitched since Friday in Cincinnati because of soreness in the shoulder.

The Phillies have said the injuries are unrelated.

Madson, who pitched an inning last night, wants to be cautious until he is healthy. He said that might mean he will be unavailable to pitch more than one inning.

"I would like to," he said. "I don't mind going multiple innings, but if it's a 25-, 30-pitch first inning, I don't think it'd be very smart at this point in the season to go out another inning."

That news didn't sit well with Manuel, who said: "Do I need him as a multiple-inning guy? Yeah, but we also need someone else that can do it. It's tough when players sit down and tell you how much they can play and how much they can pitch. That kind of doesn't sound right to me for some reason."

Dubee said: "He's coming off an injury last year, and he's now having a setback this year. But we're aware of it, too. We're not going to send him to the wolves, believe me."

Rollins held out

Jimmy Rollins

said his sprained left ankle felt a little better, but not enough to play. The shortstop remains day-to-day, although he struck out in a pinch-hit at-bat against Mets closer

Billy Wagner

in the ninth inning.

"It's feeling sore on the other side, though," Rollins said. "It started on one side, and it feels sore on the other side. I'm not sure if that's just from tape, or whatever. I'll test it out."

No fear of Phils

Wagner said on his weekly radio show on ESPN 1050 in New York that teams

do

get into the heads of others. It's just that the Phillies aren't one of them.

"When you play the Braves, they had the aura around them - 'Ah, man, here we go again.' You were waiting for something to happen. The Phillies don't have that tradition. They don't have that consistency of beating a team like that. . . . There's not that feel. You don't go out there going, 'Oh, jeez, we're going to lose tonight.' . . . You don't get that feeling playing the Phillies. I'm not trying to disrespect them, but we haven't got that feel of that. . . . The Phillies are a good team. They're going to be a good team for a long time. But they haven't got that dominant two-, three-type starters that come in and can really beat you every time. They don't have that yet."

Benson progresses

Righthander

Kris Benson

continues to throw off the mound in Clearwater, Fla., and is getting closer to pitching in a minor-league game - perhaps in a couple of weeks, although no date has been set.

Phillies sign Kline

The Phillies signed lefthander

Steve Kline

to a minor-league contract.

Kline will report to triple-A Lehigh Valley next week after he pitches this week in Clearwater. San Francisco designated Kline for assignment March 30 and released him April 4. He had a 4.70 ERA last season with the Giants, his worst ERA since his rookie year in 1997. He also walked more batters (18) than he struck out (17) for the first time in his career. Lefthanders hit .318 against him.

Kline had a 5.40 ERA in 11 appearances this spring, allowing 17 hits in 112/3 innings.

- Todd Zolecki