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Phillies Notes: Umpire says good things came from his bad call

Since admitting he blew the call that cost Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga a perfect game Wednesday, umpire Jim Joyce has not shied away from dealing with the aftermath.

"This has been absolutely phenomenal," Jim Joyce said.
"This has been absolutely phenomenal," Jim Joyce said.Read moreDAVID M WARREN / Staff Photographer

Since admitting he blew the call that cost Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga a perfect game Wednesday, umpire Jim Joyce has not shied away from dealing with the aftermath.

Joyce was at Citizens Bank Park as the third-base umpire for Friday's opening of a four-game series between the Phillies and the San Diego Padres.

In a moment that connected Galarraga and Joyce in baseball history, the pitcher was one out from a perfect game when Joyce called Cleveland's Jason Donald safe at first after a ground ball.

A distraught Joyce admitted his mistake after seeing the replay and was emotional in displaying his remorse. Instead of being castigated, he was shown empathy by the person it affected the most, Galarraga.

Thursday, Joyce was the plate umpire in Detroit against the same Indians and received a pregame ovation from the crowd at Comerica Park - something that also caused him to choke up.

In addition, Galarraga brought the Tigers' lineup card to the plate before the game and greeted Joyce.

The public has reacted favorably to Joyce after seeing how bad he felt in making the wrong call. Also, the Tigers' sportsmanship helped diffuse any potential lingering animosity.

"This has been absolutely phenomenal as far as I am concerned," Joyce said before Friday's game. "For some reason, an ugly situation has turned into a very big positive, and I couldn't be more thankful."

Umpiring crew chief Derryl Cousins offered to speak to reporters on Joyce's behalf. Joyce, however, insisted on dealing with all the questions.

Joyce also said that he had been given the choice not to work Thursday's game, but that he never considered it.

"The hardest thing was going to Detroit [on Thursday]," Joyce said. "I dreaded it but knew I had to do it and wouldn't walk away."

And when he received a warm ovation, his worst fears were unrealized.

Joyce said he was stopped in the Detroit airport by fans patting him on the back. He said even a police officer came up and thanked him.

"Something is wrong," Joyce said. "He saves lives, and I call balls and strikes, and he was thanking me."

Joyce was still emotional, whether talking about the outpouring of public support, or addressing the missed call.

"My emotions are still on a very high roller coaster," he said. "Right now, I am still having trouble dealing with this."

Polanco returns

Placido Polanco was back in the Phillies' lineup at third base after missing the previous six games because of a Grade 1 contusion in his left elbow.

"It feels good to be back in there after a long week," Polanco said before the game.

Polanco said he did not feel quite 100 percent.

"I would say I am 90, 85 percent," he said. "I'm ready to go."

On the mend

General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said he hoped shortstop Jimmy Rollins (strained right calf) would go on a rehab assignment near the end of the current home stand, which runs through Thursday.

"He is starting to do more baseball activity," Amaro said.

Amaro added that lefthander J.A. Happ (left forearm strain) threw well in a two-inning extended spring training appearance Thursday in Clearwater. He threw 28 pitches, and Amaro said his velocity was mainly around 87 to 88 m.p.h.

Happ will throw three innings in a rehabilitation game Tuesday for single-A Clearwater, according to Amaro.

Reliever Ryan Madson had the pins removed from his broken right toe, and according to Amaro, his arm is in great shape and he has been throwing from 150 feet.

Amaro gave no estimate on his return, although Madson, who was in the clubhouse briefly, estimated that he will be back in four weeks.

Ringing in Stairs

Padres outfielder and former Phillie Matt Stairs was presented with his National League championship ring before the game by manager Charlie Manuel.

Stairs was greeted favorably by the crowd, which probably remembered him for that two-run pinch home run in the eighth inning that gave the Phillies a 7-5 win and a 3-1 lead in their 2008 National League Championship Game Series against Los Angeles.

"It's nice that you walk in here, and the doorman talks about the home run from two years ago," Stairs said before the game. "It is nice to be part of something special that people remember."