As a former bench player, Phillies manager

Charlie Manuel

appreciates what it takes to be effective in a reserve role, and that's why he tries to give his bench guys as much playing time as possible.

"When you plug them in and they play good, I definitely think that's not only good at that time," Manuel said, "but, down the road, you're going to get a lot out of them, too, because you're going to keep them sharp."

In a somewhat strange way, injuries have enabled Manuel to keep his reserves sharp.

Eric Bruntlett

started 28 straight games at shortstop when

Jimmy Rollins

was out with an ankle injury, and

Jayson Werth

saw increased playing time after

Shane Victorino

was sidelined with a strained calf.

Now, with Werth on the disabled list with a strained abdominal muscle,

So Taguchi

has seen more time, getting two starts in the last week.

"That's helped us, and it's showed us how good they can be if we use them," Manuel said. "It's a confidence factor for guys that did get to play, so we should benefit from that as the season goes on.

"Some guys will tell you this guy is hitting .120 and he's got 40, 50 at-bats. That's absolutely nothing over three, four months time. I know how hard it is, believe me. If you actually start getting over 200 at-bats in a season, then you have a chance to produce."

Manuel added that being a bench player is "one of the toughest jobs in baseball."

Tougher than managing?

"It's harder than that," he said. "Managing is easy if you've got the horses."

Witness to history

Cincinnati Reds veteran

Ken Griffey Jr.

slammed his 599th career home run yesterday, and he has a chance to reach 600 when the Reds come to Citizens Bank Park tomorrow to begin a four-game series.

"If it happens, that's where the fun part of it comes into play," said Phillies first baseman

Ryan Howard,

a pretty fair home run hitter himself. "You're watching history."

Howard wondered how many home runs Griffey would have hit by now had he not been hampered by injuries.

"If he could have been healthy, you never know," he said. "He could have been up there in the 700s, maybe even close to 756."

Nice and relaxed

Just when it looked as if

Brett Myers

was going to struggle through another shaky start, the Phillies came up with a seven-run inning Friday that proved to be nice and relaxing.

"I think it had a lot to do with it, yeah," Manuel said when asked if the run support helped settle Myers down. "I think any time he's behind in the game and we put a seven-spot up, I'm sure he feels better about the game and probably about himself. That gives him a chance to bear down and pitch good."

Myers earned his first win since April, striking out 11 and allowing just three hits after his rocky first inning.

"I can see where that would help him, and it should," Manuel said.