WASHINGTON - Ten days ago, New York Mets ace Johan Santana mowed down the Phillies in a 1-0 win. Since then, the Phils' bats have just about turned into sawdust.
Though there's not likely a correlation, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel isn't so sure.
"It seemed like Santana started throwing us a lot of fastballs, and ever since then it seems like we lack something as far as our offense goes, our aggressiveness," Manuel said before last night's game against the Nationals. "We've been taking a lot of fastballs. The effort is there, but for about a week now, we haven't played good baseball."
Including the loss to Santana, the Phils had lost six of eight. In the six losses, they scored 14 runs. During their recently completed six-game homestand, they batted .187 and scored 24 runs.
"It seems like we're not really focused or something, like we're chasing pitches," Manuel said. "I think we need to be a little more aggressive. Most of the time, it seems like we're waiting for something to happen, or waiting for the next guy to do something."
Manuel seemed genuinely thrilled with yesterday's visit to the White House and meeting with President Obama, saying the honor was a great way to end the saga of the 2008 championship year and get things going this season.
"He's definitely got energy, and you get a good feel for him, and he's definitely the kind of guy who would stand up for himself," Manuel said of the president. "I was impressed with him. I liked him. He was very interesting.
"I think it was super. I think our players and our organization got a big thrill out of it. I was watching some of the players' wives, and they were taking a lot of pictures of the furniture in the rooms we went through. I thought this was a good way to really put the last chapter on 2008."
J.C. Romero will begin a rehabilitation assignment Monday with one of the Phillies' minor-league teams. The lefthanded reliever is serving a 50-game suspension for using a banned substance. A player under such a suspension is permitted to begin a rehab assignment with 15 games remaining in the suspension. The club has not said where Romero will pitch Monday. Double-A Reading is off that day and single-A Lakewood is on the road. Triple-A Lehigh Valley has a home game Monday night, so it's possible Romero could pitch there. "He'll float back and forth with three different teams," Manuel said. Romero could return June 3. . . . The Phillies had scored 73 of their 174 runs on homers for 42 percent, ranking fourth in the majors behind the Rangers (45.5 percent), Yankees (44 percent) and Brewers (42.4 percent).