NEW YORK - Greg Dobbs said he doesn't pay attention to the statistics, so when he was asked about his struggles as a pinch-hitter, he had a question of his own: "What's my numbers?"
Dobbs was told before last night's game that he was 1 for 17 as a pinch-hitter this year
"That's pretty terrible, isn't it?" Dobbs said.
True. He is now 1 for 18. He struck out in the sixth batting for Jamie Moyer.
After a breakout 2008 in which Dobbs batted .355 as a pinch-hitter and established himself as a legitimate lefthanded threat off the Phillies' bench, he is hitting .139 (10 for 72) as a pinch-hitter since.
What happened? Dobbs can't say for sure.
"There's no exact science," Dobbs said.
The other lefthanded bat off the bench, Ross Gload, has fared better, but not by much. Gload is hitting .227 (5 for 22) as a pinch-hitter but has two home runs and six RBIs. Gload led the National League in pinch-hits and pinch-RBIs while with the Florida Marlins in 2009.
Manager Charlie Manuel said Dobbs' success as a pinch-hitter in 2008 could have been aided by the fact that he started 47 games - mostly at third base while in a quasi-platoon with Pedro Feliz.
Manuel said it's early in 2010 and he isn't worried about Dobbs' struggles, even though they have persisted for more than a year.
"In the past, Dobbs has proven that he's a good pinch-hitter," Manuel said. "The last couple of years he's struggled. There for a couple years he was getting more at-bats than he's getting now."
But that's the Catch-22 of a good pinch-hitter: finding a way to contribute coming off the bench while receiving little regular playing time.
"Pinch-hitting is hard to do and you're in streaks where you're not getting hits," Manuel said. "I understand that because I did do that. That's a tough job. I think if he got more at-bats, he might be a better pinch-hitter."
But those at-bats are probably not coming, unless Placido Polanco suffers an injury.
Dobbs has walked three times as a pinch-hitter and said he's been happy with some of the longer at-bats that have resulted in outs. Against Boston on Friday, Dobbs smoked a liner deep to right that was caught by a leaping J.D. Drew on the warning track.
Brad Lidge successfully threw a 25-pitch bullpen session Tuesday, the first time he threw off a mound since receiving a cortisone shot May 17.
"I was able to really let a few go and no pain at all," Lidge said. "Very encouraging."
Lidge threw only fastballs but plans to throw his slider Thursday in a second bullpen session. If all goes well then, Lidge could pitch in a rehab game for single-A Clearwater over the weekend. That could put him on track to rejoin the team in Atlanta next week.
"Really, the only thing holding me back right now is we have to follow some protocol to get back," Lidge said. "But it feels great."