Kyle Drabek, the Phillies' top pitching prospect, has been shut down for the rest of the season.
Don't worry. The 21-year-old righthander is not hurt.
"He's perfectly healthy," said Chuck LaMar, the Phils assistant general manager who handles player development and scouting.
"He's had an outstanding season at the two highest levels of minor-league ball that he's ever pitched. He's gotten to the point where he's 100 innings more than he's ever pitched, and we need to be careful with him because of his unique situation."
The Phils' top pick in the 2006 draft, Drabek had ligament-replacement surgery on his right elbow in July 2007 and was sidelined until late last season.
He came back with a vengeance this season, often dominating hitters at the advanced single-A level and double A with his mid-90s fastball and hard-dropping curveball. He went 12-3 with 3.19 ERA at the two levels and struck out 150 while walking 50 and allowing 141 hits in 158 innings.
Drabek was so impressive this season that the Phillies made him an untouchable in trade talks involving Toronto's Roy Halladay. The Blue Jays insisted on having Drabek in the proposed deal, but the Phils did not budge. The Phillies envision Drabek working his way into their starting rotation at some point next season.
Drabek will not participate in the Florida Instructional League or Arizona Fall League. He will soon begin his off-season conditioning program and get ready for spring training.
That time of year
With rosters expanding tomorrow, Phillies officials are mulling which players to bring up from the minors. Players who are added to the active roster by midnight tonight will be eligible for the 25-man postseason roster. Players on the disabled list, such as Greg Dobbs, J.C. Romero, Clay Condrey, Antonio Bastardo, and Brett Myers, are already eligible for the postseason.
The Phillies' 40-man roster is full, so the team would have to make a move if it added a player who is not on the roster. Pitchers Kyle Kendrick, Andrew Carpenter, Jack Taschner, and Rodrigo Lopez are on the 40-man roster. Outfielder John Mayberry Jr., also on the 40-man roster, is a likely candidate to join the club.
Manager Charlie Manuel, who won't be comfortable until the Phils have clinched a postseason berth, hinted that September call-ups might not see a lot of playing time.
"Our regular lineup is set," Manuel said. "Usually you want your best lineup on the field. We'll play them if we need them. But I don't know how much they'll help. We want to go with experience."
Looking for improvement
Entering last night's game against Atlanta, the Phillies had just nine hits in their previous 56 at-bats (.161) with runners in scoring position. Despite leading the NL with 662 runs (13 more than second-place Colorado) entering play yesterday, the Phils ranked 11th in the league with a .256 batting average with runners in scoring position.
That irks Manuel.
"In my opinion, I think we are the best team in the division, and we should win the division," he said. "When we play right, we're a team that can do a lot of things. That's why I get upset when we don't knock in our runs. Lately, we've had a hard time with runners in scoring position, and that's a concern. You're going to leave some runners out there, without a doubt, but you're supposed to succeed in more situations like that than you fail."
Manuel wasn't talking only about getting hits with runners in scoring position. He wants his team to concentrate on what he called "easy ribbies," such as hitting a ground ball when a runner is on third and the infield is back.
"I know they can do it, and they do, too," Manuel said. "It's just a matter of getting it done."
The Phils are off today. They will open a three-game series against the San Francisco Giants tomorrow night. Cole Hamels will pitch the opener against Jonathan Sanchez.