Because he is the only lefthander in the Phillies' bullpen,
finds that his successes and failures are magnified.
So far, the results have not been pretty. Smith has a 10.80 ERA in eight appearances. He has faced nine lefthanded batters and retired just two. He has walked five of them.
Smith said he needed to get mentally tough again.
"I've been thinking about positive experiences I've had in my short career," said Smith, who went 0-1 with a 0.87 ERA in 26 appearances as a rookie for the New York Yankees and the Phillies. "I went out there last year and I had no fear. I just went after everybody."
The 27-year-old Smith retired two of the three batters he faced Sunday in Cincinnati, but he walked the lefthanded Adam Dunn.
"When I went out there, I told myself, 'Hey, you belong here. Obviously, they have confidence in you because they keep sending you out there. So do something about it,' " Smith said. "I don't think I've solved everything, but I think as long as I go out there and I get positives out of it, I'll start rolling, and I think things will start going my way."
Lefthander Fabio Castro is 2-0 with a 1.23 ERA in five relief appearance for triple-A Ottawa. The Phillies prefer more than one lefthander in the bullpen, but Castro, who worked as a starter in winter ball, is getting reacquainted to a relief role after a tough spring. He could be back this season.
Lieber is set
(0-0, 3.38 ERA) made an impressive return to the rotation Friday in Cincinnati. In 52/3 shutout innings, he allowed one hit and one walk. He struck out five. Lieber will face Nationals righthander
(0-3, 7.00) tonight.
"What Jon does as well as anybody is pound the strike zone," pitching coach Rich Dubee said. "I thought he commanded his fastball and his slider very well."
has a 1.17 ERA in his last six appearances (one earned run in 72/3 innings). He has allowed eight hits and no walks, and has struck out four. "He's starting to come around," Manuel said. . . . The rumors that San Diego righthander
might be available have kicked up again, but a trade possibility with the Phillies seems remote at best. Padres general manager
said recently that he would like to sign Linebrink to a contract extension.
- Todd Zolecki