The Phillies' clubhouse doors remained closed Thursday at 3:30 p.m., the time when the media are typically invited in to chat with the players.
One night after saying, "We've got to get that edge," Charlie Manuel decided he needed to hold a team meeting.
"The all-star break is coming and I wanted to talk to them before Sunday," the Phillies' manager said before Thursday night's game against the Cincinnati Reds. "I figured today was a good day to talk to them."
Manuel would not elaborate on what he told his players, but he offered a small glimpse.
"I want them to go home and I want them to think about the second half of the season," Manuel said. "I also want them to relax and enjoy it. That's one of the things I told them, but at the same time I want them to think about the second half of the season and how we want to play and how we want to come out. We want to get our mojo back, get our game back."
Manuel admitted he could not put his finger on exactly what his team needs, but he said he still thinks the Phillies will make a run at the first-place Atlanta Braves before the season is over.
"I know our players and I know how much they like to play," Manuel said. "I know we are definitely capable of playing good. I know we're going to get hot. I know that. I know we're going to get a run at our division. I can tell you right now. I'll be surprised if we don't."
Righthander Ryan Madson was activated from the disabled list before the game, and Manuel indicated that he would immediately be used in the eighth-inning setup role that had been filled mostly by Jose Contreras during his absence.
True to his word, Manuel brought Madson into Thursday night's game in the eighth inning, and the reliever registered a blown save.
To make room for Madson, the Phillies optioned lefthanded reliever Mike Zagurski to triple-A Lehigh Valley. The Phillies also designated double-A Reading outfielder Quintin Berry for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster for Madson.
Madson was 1-0 with a 7.00 ERA in nine appearances before he kicked a chair April 28 after blowing a save opportunity in San Francisco and landed on the disabled list with a broken big right toe.
"It has been a long road and I'm happy to be back," Madson said before the game. "Hopefully I'll get a couple games in before the all-star break. Hopefully it's a nice situation and I'll get that adrenaline going again."
Manuel said Madson, Contreras, J.C. Romero, and closer Brad Lidge would be his primary late-inning relievers. Madson, Romero, and Lidge have thrown a combined 39 innings this season; all have spent time on the disabled list. The manager is hopeful that those light workloads in the first half of the season will prove beneficial for the Phillies in the second half.
"Actually, coming back from the all-star break, that can be a plus for us," Manuel said. "I think they'll be strong."
Catcher Carlos Ruiz continued his rehab assignment Thursday at single-A Lakewood. He is scheduled to catch at Lakewood again Friday, and barring any recurring concussion symptoms, he is likely to be activated before Saturday's game against the Reds.