PITTSBURGH - Charlie Manuel said he hadn't made any decisions, and that he likely wouldn't until tomorrow morning, but it sounds as if the manager will find a way to keep hot-hitting Jayson Werth in the lineup even after Shane Victorino returns from the disabled list.
Victorino, who is eligible to be activated tomorrow, could return to centerfield, sliding Werth back to right, where he began the season sharing time with Geoff Jenkins.
But Manuel said that keeping Werth in center and moving Victorino back to right, where he played last season, is an option.
"I think right now Werth has shown he can play centerfield," Manuel said. "Of course, Victorino at the start of our season, he was our centerfielder. When you are hurt, you usually don't lose your job, unless somebody knocks the [stuffing] out of the ball. If somebody outplays you . . . I always thought if I was better than somebody, and I beat them out, that I deserved the right to play. And I'm 64 years old, and I still think that way. Now, it's up to that guy to win his job back."
General manager Pat Gillick said he expects Victorino to be activated from the disabled list in time for tomorrow's game with the Padres. Victorino, who strained his calf April 12 and was immediately placed on the DL, went 2-for-4 in his final rehab appearance for Triple A Lehigh Valley yesterday.
Manuel indicated that he will proceed with caution when using Victorino. He said he thinks Werth has earned playing time with his performance. Werth, whose seven-game hitting streak was snapped yesterday when he went 0-for-4 against the Pirates, has hit .279 since Victorino went on the DL and has hit four home runs in his last seven games.
But Manuel also wants to make sure Victorino's calf, which bothered him last season, doesn't nag him.
"He had trouble with his calf last year and just as soon as the season starts this year he has trouble with his calf," Manuel said. "I hope it's not one of those things that always comes and goes, but at the same time, Werth has definitely earned the right to play."
There is no definite timetable on righthander Kris Benson's recovery from the strained groin he suffered Saturday in an extended spring-training game. Trainer Scott Sheridan said he is day-to-day. Benson, who can opt out of his contract May 15 if he pitches at least 10 minor league innings or June 1 if he doesn't, has not had an MRI exam on the groin and hopes it will heal on its own. Sheridan said Benson's shoulder has been fine.
Shortstop Jimmy Rollins (ankle) is back in Philadelphia and will compare notes with Scott Sheridan. Rollins, who attended last night's Sixers-Pistons game at the Wachovia Center, is eligible to be activated from the disabled list on May 5. He had been taking batting and infield practice in Clearwater while the Phillies were on their recently completed road trip.
Pat Gillick said he would like to get Rollins three or four rehab starts before he is activated, but that there is no set plan for when those stints might begin.
"We'll evaluate him [today]," Sheridan said. "Obviously, he's been doing well and we'll see where he's at, but I don't have a rehab schedule or anything set up. Seeing is believing."
Pat Gillick said the Phillies are still hoping to add a lefthander to the bullpen, despite acquiring veteran Steve Kline a couple of weeks ago. Gillick said that Kline, currently pitching at Triple A Lehigh Valley, is "possibly" the answer.
"I wouldn't say probably," Gillick said. "Possibly."
Kline has pitched in six games at Lehigh Valley, allowing seven hits and three earned runs in seven innings. He allowed no runs and one hit in his first 3 2/3 innings, but has allowed three runs and six hits in his last 3 1/3. Saturday night against Rochester he pitched three innings of relief, allowing one run on four hits and striking out two.
Kline turns 36 in August. He was released by the Giants after spring training. Last season, he appeared in 68 games, going 1-2 with two saves, allowing 58 hits and 24 earned runs in 46 innings while striking out 17 and walking 18.