MIAMI - The Phillies lost some serious speed in November when they sent
to the Houston Astros as part of the
But it hasn't hurt their base-stealing percentage. They entered last night's series opener against the Florida Marlins at Dolphin Stadium having stolen 43 bases in 50 attempts. Their 86 percent success rate led baseball, even though they ranked eighth in the National League in steals. (Of course, it should be noted that Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino spent time on the disabled list.)
The Phillies set a major-league record last season with their 87.9 percent (138 of 157) success rate.
"I preach the same thing," first base coach Davey Lopes said. "If we stole just to steal bases, we'd have a few more. But if you're stealing at a 65 to 70 percent success rate, you'd better stop stealing because you're not doing your team much good."
Victorino is 13 for 16, Rollins is 10 for 10, Jayson Werth is 7 for 8, and Chase Utley is 6 for 6 to lead the team.
"To me, it adds excitement to the game," said Lopes, a proficient base-stealer when he played from 1972 to 1987.
"It adds excitement to a game, which is really, truthfully, a boring game. Believe me, I've been in the game long enough. You take away an element that's fast and it doesn't appeal to people."
So expect the Phillies to keep running.
Just expect them to be smart about doing it.
Feliz out, Dobbs in
in a 2-for-20 (.100) slump since he homered June 2 against Cincinnati, manager
at third base for the second consecutive game.
It was the first time this season Dobbs had started back-to-back games at third base.
It certainly helped Dobbs' cause that lefthanders had hit .324 with 11 home runs against Marlins righthander Ricky Nolasco, compared with righthanders, who had hit just .228 with one homer against him. But Feliz also needed a rest.
"This gives Feliz a break, almost three days off," Manuel said. "He'll be in there tomorrow. Feliz definitely is our regular third baseman. Dobbs will be in there every now and then. And I'll try to find other places to put Dobbs at times."
Dobbs would love to play every day, but he's not complaining about his current role.
"When you get these days, you want to make the most of them," he said.
That didn't happen last night. Dobbs went 1 for 4 but struck out three times.
Utley in the lead
Utley continues to lead all National League players in voting for next month's All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium.
He has 1,284,961 votes for a commanding lead at second base over the Chicago Cubs' Mark DeRosa, the Penn product who is second at that position with 589,637. But Atlanta Braves third baseman Chipper Jones is close behind Utley for top overall vote-getter, with 1,110,171 votes.
Ryan Howard (368,012) remains a distant fourth behind Houston Astros first baseman Lance Berkman (1,046,249). Jimmy Rollins (442,885) remains a distant fifth behind Houston shortstop Miguel Tejada (726,835). And Pat Burrell (487,131) has dropped from sixth to ninth among NL outfielders.
Schmidt: Good move, Chuck
Hall of Fame third baseman
, in a column he wrote for the Associated Press, commended Manuel for benching Rollins last week for not hustling on a fly ball.
"From this day forward, any player who doesn't run hard on a for-sure out is fair game," Schmidt wrote. "No hustle, no play. Applies to MVP shortstops and all players below. Imagine how many coaches across the country were telling this story to their kids the last few days."
"He's now the new Charlie Hustle," Schmidt said about Manuel.
, who had been outrighted to triple-A Lehigh Valley on Saturday, has accepted his assignment to the IronPigs. He had the option of becoming a free agent but would have had to sacrifice his guaranteed $450,000 salary.
Eight men signed
The Phillies have signed eight of the 53 players they took in last week's amateur draft. They will report to minicamp this week at the Carpenter Complex in Clearwater, Fla.
The signed players: compensation-round outfielder Anthony Gose; fifth-round first baseman Jeremy Hamilton; ninth-round third baseman Cody Overbeck; 22d-round second baseman Daniel Hargrave; 23d-round outfielder Brandon Haislet; 28th-round righthander Jordan Ellis; 36th-round righthander Michael Cisco; and 43d-round outfielder Bryan Frew.
After the minicamp ends Saturday, players will be assigned to play for single-A Williamsport or the rookie-level Gulf Coast League Phillies.