ONE PHILOSOPHY that Charlie Manuel carries with him into the dugout involves pitchers and catchers; namely, that it is rarely in a club's interest to pair individual players with each other. So while catcher Paul Bako started last night's game against the Diamondbacks - the fourth straight time he has done so with Cliff Lee on the mound - Manuel insisted he does not view it as a permanent pairing.
But he acknowledged that Lee's success in his first three starts as a Phillie - the former Cleveland lefthander was 3-0 with a 1.12 ERA heading into last night - played into his decision to start Bako last night.
Starting catcher Carlos Ruiz, who had three hits Tuesday night, has yet to catch Lee in a game. Manuel also said he knew he wanted to start the righthanded-hitting Ruiz tonight, when he will face Arizona lefty Doug Davis.
"Because he's 3-0, I'll be honest with you, that's one of the reasons why I caught [Bako]," Manuel said. "But at the same time, I wanted [Ruiz] to catch tomorrow against the lefty and I figured because [Bako] caught him in three, why not let him catch four?"
For the bulk of his career in Cleveland, Lee was paired with backup catcher Kelly Shoppach. But Manuel said there is no such arrangement here.
"[Bako]'s not his personal catcher," Manuel said. "Of course you guys will write whatever you want to write. If you want him to be his personal catcher, go right ahead. But I'll handle it anyway, so it doesn't matter."
Chan Ho Park's elbow tenderness was nothing serious, which is good news for the Phillies, who have relied heavily on the veteran righthander ever since moving him to the bullpen in May. After the Phillies' 4-1 win over the Braves on Sunday, Manuel mentioned that he had wanted to avoid using Park that night due to the tenderness. But Park, who has a 2.63 ERA and a .235 opponents' batting average since allowing five runs in his debut as a reliever, has been available to pitch the past couple of nights.
For the second straight year, the Phillies made aggressive plays for draft picks who were seriously considering college. They were thrilled to convince seventh-round pick Brody Colvin, a righthander whom some scouts felt had first-round talent, out of a commitment to LSU with a $900,000 bonus. The Colvin signing ensured that each of their top 10 picks would spend next season in the organization. But one coveted player who got away was 14th-round Jake Stewart, an outfielder who elected to attend Stanford rather than sign. But it wasn't for a lack of trying: Club sources said that the Phillies made an aggressive play for Stewart, offering well above slot in an attempt to convince him to forgo college. Keep an eye on him 3 years from now, when he again will be eligible to enter the draft.
For the fourth straight game, Charlie Manuel hit Jayson Werth fifth in order to break up the lefthanded triumverate of Chase Utely, Ryan Howard and Raul Ibanez . . . Pedro Martinez is scheduled to start against his former team at Citi Field on Sunday . . . The Phillies entered last night two games behind the Dodgers for the best record in the National League; the top team gets homefield advantage throughout the playoffs.