After starting 222 straight games, including the first 60 for the Phillies this season, Raul Ibanez sat out yesterday's game against the Boston Red Sox with what he described as a sore left Achilles tendon.
Ibanez, who has recently been running with a slight limp, expressed little doubt that he would be back in the lineup tomorrow, when Toronto comes to Citizens Bank Park to begin a three-game series.
Ibanez, who has a 13-game hitting streak and is an early-season MVP candidate, said one of the trainers cut a slit in the back of his shoe to help alleviate the soreness. He said he was told by manager Charlie Manuel late Saturday that he was going to sit out yesterday's game.
Said Manuel, "Ibanez has been a little sore. I noticed that he was limping a little bit, and he had some tenderness in his Achilles."
On Saturday night, Ibanez became the fastest Phillies player to reach 20 homers in a season at 56 games. According to the Phillies, Jim Thome had the previous record of 77 games in 2003.
With their busy bullpen stretched thin, the Phillies called up 33-year-old righthander Tyler Walker from Lehigh Valley before yesterday's game and optioned lefthander Sergio Escalona to their triple-A affiliate.
Released by Seattle near the end of spring training, Walker signed a minor-league contract with the Phillies on April 9 and moved up to Lehigh Valley from single-A Clearwater.
Asked about his repertoire of pitches, Walker smiled and said, "Fastball, slider, split-finger, change-up, kitchen sink, resin bag, anything."
Walker was 2-1 with three saves and a 1.40 earned run average in 15 games at Lehigh Valley. He allowed eight hits in 19 1/3 innings.
A California-Berkeley alum, Walker is 20-17 with a 4.52 ERA and 34 saves in six seasons in the majors. Last season with the San Francisco Giants, he went 5-8 with a 4.56 ERA in 65 appearances.
"I didn't pitch all that poorly in spring training," Walker said. "[The Mariners] just had a couple guys ahead of me."
Walker was one of only three pitchers in the bullpen that Manuel said he had available for yesterday's game. Three of the previous four games had gone into extra innings, and rookie Antonio Bastardo went one inning Saturday night before he was replaced following a 95-minute rain delay. The bullpen pitched 24 innings in those four games.
The Phillies' bullpen went into yesterday's game second to Houston in the NL with 2092/3 innings pitched.
"If the starters don't give you six, seven innings sometimes, then eventually your bullpen gets out of whack and it wears them down," Manuel said.
Manuel said middle reliever Clay Condrey has recently been bothered by back problems.
Josh Beckett's sixth-inning home run was his second at Citizens Bank Park in three years. The Red Sox ace hit one off Brett Myers on May 20, 2006, which was the last by a Boston pitcher before yesterday. . . . Manuel said the Red Sox have the top pitching staff he has seen so far this season. "Boston's got the best pitching depth and they've got the most talented pitching staff, I can tell you that," he said. . . . Before the Phillies scored seven runs, six earned, against Beckett, he had gone 5-0 with a 1.70 ERA since May 5. The 11 hits were the most Beckett has allowed this season. . . . Ryan Madson ran his streak to 142/3 scoreless innings. . . . The Phillies are 20-34 against AL teams in the last three-plus seasons. . . . The crowd of 45,141 was the 23d sellout of the season.