It had to happen eventually.
Lefthander Matt Smith, who had an 11.25 ERA in nine appearances, was optioned yesterday to Ottawa, the Phillies' triple-A club.
The lone lefty in the Phillies' bullpen had allowed five runs, four hits and 11 walks in just four innings. He also had retired just three of the 11 lefthanders he had faced.
The Phillies recalled lefthander Fabio Castro to take Smith's place.
Smith had been 0-1 with a 2.08 ERA in 14 appearances last season. But the last straw came in Wednesday's 9-3 win over Washington at Citizens Bank Park when Smith walked three in just two-thirds of an inning. The Phillies informed him of the move yesterday morning.
"There's a good chance he'll be back up here," manager Charlie Manuel said before yesterday's 4-2 loss to the Nationals. "He has to have some success and start getting guys out, and that will build his confidence back up."
Castro was 0-1 with a 1.54 ERA in 16 appearances last season. He pitched well in winter ball as a starter but returned to the bullpen in spring training and struggled, going 0-1 with a 9.24 ERA in nine appearances.
He seems to have recovered in Ottawa, where he was 2-0 with a 3.24 ERA in six appearances.
Castro said the transition from starter to reliever might have affected him.
"I like Castro's stuff," Manuel said. "I think it's a matter of him throwing strikes, too. The more strikes he throws, the more success he'll have. He didn't throw a lot of strikes this spring. He kept the ball down, but he couldn't get ahead of the batter."
has been Manuel's choice from the bullpen with runners on base. No wonder: He entered with the bases loaded and one out in the sixth yesterday but worked out of the inning without a run scoring.
Geary has inherited 18 runners this season. Just one has scored.
The bullpen hurled 32/3 scoreless innings yesterday. The relievers have a 1.63 ERA (five earned runs in 272/3 innings) in the last eight games. . . . Righthander
has a 0.93 ERA (one earned run in 92/3 innings) in his last seven appearances. He had a 9.00 ERA (five earned runs in five innings) in his first three.
- Todd Zolecki