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Phillies Notes | Arms are needed to stay in the race

Phillies Notes Charlie Manuel returned from the all-star break singing a familiar tune. "We need pitching," the Phillies manager said before last night's second-half opener against the St. Louis Cardinals. "We need someone that can really help us. Whether we get it or not, I don't know."

Phillies Notes

Charlie Manuel

returned from the all-star break singing a familiar tune.

"We need pitching," the Phillies manager said before last night's second-half opener against the St. Louis Cardinals. "We need someone that can really help us. Whether we get it or not, I don't know."

With last night's victory, the Phillies are 45-44, third place in the National League East, four games behind the division-leading Mets.

The Phils need a pitching upgrade to stay in the race.

"I think Pat [Gillick] will do whatever he can to help us," Manuel said of the team's general manager. "Whether he can pull it off or it happens, I don't know.

"I understand how important it is to get pitching, and I understand how hard it is to get."

Pitching is difficult to get because there isn't a deep pool of available talent and most every contending team is looking for some. Teams that have pitching to offer are looking for young, major-league-ready talent, and the Phils don't have much in their minor-league system.

With relievers Tom Gordon and Brett Myers nearing their returns from the disabled list, Manuel seems to prefer adding a starting pitcher.

"We could use a starter," he said, "or anything that strengthens our pitching."

The Phils entered last night with the worst team ERA in the NL - 4.91.

Health check. Gordon, recovering from a tender shoulder, pitched two scoreless innings in a Gulf Coast League game yesterday. He will throw in the bullpen tomorrow in Philadelphia and could be activated as soon as Monday.

Myers, recovering from a shoulder strain, will throw a bullpen session today in Florida. He still has not thrown to hitters and is not as close to returning as Gordon.

Bat man visits. Jack Marucci, the Louisiana State University football trainer who moonlights as a bat maker, visited the Phillies' clubhouse before the game. Marucci, who began making bats in his backyard for his son Geno, counts Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Pat Burrell as clients. Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols also spoke to Marucci about getting some bats.

-Jim Salisbury