CLEARWATER, Fla. - Michael Stutes sat in the corner of the Phillies clubhouse where all of the extra leather chairs, once used by players, were lined up in two rows. His suit jacket hung in an empty locker, and he fiddled with his phone as the rest of the Phillies dressed for their charter flight back to Philadelphia.
Two days earlier, Stutes learned he would be making the trip with the team. So instead of searching for an apartment in Allentown, he is going to Citizens Bank Park with an uncertain outcome.
The gesture is more than symbolic; the Phillies say Stutes still has a shot at making the team, even though he was reassigned to minor-league camp March 18. How legitimate the chance is remains to be seen. Manager Charlie Manuel downplayed his chances Monday.
"I don't know," Stutes said.
But, whatever, the 24-year-old pitcher said. This is a ride he's glad to make.
"He's thrown well," Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "He deserves it."
The Phillies are taking 28 healthy players still in major-league camp to Philadelphia for the two-game exhibition series against Pittsburgh. In addition to Stutes, lefthander Juan Perez and catcher Dane Sardinha were summoned from minor-league camp.
It's the second straight season Stutes has made the trip for the two-game set against the Pirates. Last year was for a cursory look. This time it's more serious.
In 10 Grapefruit League innings, Stutes struck out 11 and walked one. He allowed one run on four hits for a 0.90 ERA.
The Phils have seven healthy relievers, and the bullpen appears set. But Amaro and pitching coach Rich Dubee have said it is not finalized. Presumably, the tenuous spots would be those held by Antonio Bastardo and David Herndon.
"There are guys who aren't even here who we might consider," Amaro said. "We're keeping our minds open."
Cliff Lee pitched three innings in a simulated intrasquad game at the Carpenter Complex. He was supposed to pitch against Pirates minor-leaguers, but they did not make the trip because of weather concerns. Instead, he pitched against some Phillies minor-leaguers. No one ran the bases.
The Phillies had Lee do that because they did not want the Astros to get a look at him before his scheduled Saturday start against Houston at Citizens Bank Park.
Roy Oswalt will start Tuesday's exhibition game. Cole Hamels will start Wednesday, and Joe Blanton will pitch a few innings out of the bullpen. Each pitcher will probably go about three innings in a final tune-up.
According to ESPN.com, the Phillies signed former Giants and Angels third baseman Kevin Frandsen to a minor-league deal. . . . The Phillies won their Grapefruit League finale, 7-6, over Houston for a 20-13 spring record. Ben Francisco hit his fourth homer and finished with a .385 batting average. . . . Domonic Brown (hand), Brian Bocock (wrist) and Brian Schlitter (elbow) will remain in Clearwater for rehab. . . . Manuel has scheduled an off day Thursday, instead of his customary workout.