ST. LOUIS - Charlie Manuel isn't sure whether veteran righthander Rudy Seanez hurt himself lunging to tag Nationals outfielder Lastings Milledge in the ninth inning Thursday night in Washington.
He's not sure if Seanez has been bothered by a stiff back for a while now.
All that's certain is that the Phillies placed Seanez on the 15-day disabled list with shoulder inflammation last night and recalled 31-year-old lefthander Les Walrond from Triple A Lehigh Valley.
Manuel conceded that he didn't know much about Walrond, who struck out 17 batters in a July 6 start for the IronPigs against Louisville, except that he'll be available out of the bullpen. He pitched briefly for the Royals in '03 and the Cubs in '05.
Seanez is 4-3 with a 5.58 earned run average this season, but had a 7.71 ERA in eight July appearances.
"Rudy's had some back problems. And his shoulder's been a little sore," Manuel said. "His last few times out he hasn't thrown good. He looked like he couldn't bend over. But he's one of those stubborn guys who won't tell when they're hurt."
The more the Phillies talk about envisioning J.A. Happ as a starter, the more the mystery surrounding the 25-year-old lefthander deepens.
Barring an injury, he isn't going to replace Cole Hamels, Jamie Moyer, Kyle Kendrick or, after his strong showing against Washington, Brett Myers. Which seems to paint a rather large bull's eye on the back of righthander Joe Blanton, who starts against the Cardinals tonight at Busch Stadium.
Except that Blanton has only made two starts since being acquired from Oakland at a fairly stiff price - second baseman Adrian Cardenas, lefthander Josh Outman and outfielder Matt Spencer - and one of those was shortened by a rain delay.
Charlie Manuel shrugged off the possibility that Blanton could be pitching to save his spot in the rotation tonight.
"We'll just wait and see how he does," the manager said. "We got him as a starter and we haven't had a very good look. I feel like we definitely have to give him a better chance than that."
He also noted that Blanton, like Happ, has little experience pitching out of the bullpen.
All of which still leaves Happ in a strange limbo, a starter-in-waiting available out of the bullpen until further notice.
Happ hasn't pitched since he came out of a start for Triple A Lehigh Valley after just 2 2/3 innings last Sunday at Richmond. He was officially added to the roster on Tuesday.
Happ is just happy to be in the big leagues, which is to be expected. "It's their decision, and I'm going to have to respect whatever they do," he said. "Whatever role they put me in, they're going to expect me to be ready."
Even Happ isn't certain what he's staying ready for, though. And if Manuel knows, he isn't saying.
"We'll find him work," he said noncommittally. "We'll see what we can do. We consider him a starter . . . He's showed he's capable of pitching a good game when we put him out there."
In answer to a question, Manuel didn't rule out the possibility of temporarily going to a six-man rotation, but indicated that the idea hasn't been seriously considered.
Lefty reliever J.C. Romero has pitched has pitched in 53 of the Phillies' 109 games this year and could surpass his career high, 81 games for the Twins in 2002. he also appeared in 73 games for the Twins in 2003 and 74 in 2004.
"We don't want to overpitch him and hurt him," Charlie Manuel said. "But it seems like the more we use him, the better he pitches because he had better command."