NEW YORK - True fact: The Phillies are hitting .282 and averaging six runs for the 12 games they've played in July.
Now they have to figure out if that means they've finally started to click, and don't have to worry about adding a bat before the trading deadline. Or if it's just one of those unexplainable blips that happen in baseball.
That has some relevance after yesterday's 8-5 win over the Mets because one of the names they are reported to be mulling is Amazins' outfielder Carlos Beltran, who is expected to be moved.
During the All-Star motorcade last week in Phoenix, Beltran (.287-14-59) was one of the most popular players.
"I'd wave over here, and people would cheer and say, 'Please come to Detroit.' " he told the New York Post, pointing to his left. "I'd wave this way," he continued, gesturing to his right, "and fans would be cheering, saying, 'We want you in San Francisco.' Yankee fans were calling for me, Boston fans. A lot of cities were calling for me."
The recent rumors connecting him with the Phillies are inevitable. They're a contending team with a perceived need for a bat. He's a talented hitter having a big year . . . and a history of turning it on when he's about to become a free agent. For the Astros in 2004 he batted .435 with eight homers and 14 RBI in 12 postseason games before signing his megadeal with the Mets.
The Mets are even reportedly willing to pick up most of the remaining $6 million he'll be owed at the trading deadline 2 weeks from yesterday. The catch, of course, is that they would want top prospects in return. And the Phillies would have to weigh the cost of further depleting their farm system for a rental player.
Another factor: The Phillies could logically be expected to look for a righthanded bat. Beltran is a switch-hitter who is batting .312 from the left side but just .232 when hitting righty. He has shown some power from that side, though, with eight homers in just 95 at-bats.
Beltran has indicated a willingness to waive his no-trade rights to go to a contender. Presumably that would include the Phillies, but he was not available to confirm that yesterday. He's missed the last two games with the flu and was not available in the clubhouse.
Shortstop Jimmy Rollins was back in the lineup yesterday after being lifted from Saturday's blowout loss under curious circumstances. Manager Charlie Manuel said Rollins experienced leg tightness earlier in the game, but that wasn't why he came out. Rollins first indicated he was not all right, then later said he had "zero" concern about his condition.
He then went 3-for-5 with two RBI and a run scored.
Assistant general manager Scott Proefrock updated the condition of the Phillies who are currently on the disabled list before the game:
* Centerfielder Shane Victorino (sprained thumb): Started and played the field for Double A Reading yesterday and is scheduled to rejoin the team in Chicago today. He went 1-for-3 with a walk and scored a run . . . on a steal of home.
* Righthander Brad Lidge (right posterior rotator cuff strain): Pitched back-to-back for the first time yesterday for Reading, working a scoreless seventh. He allowed two hits and struck out two.
"We'll see how he feels. Right now he's scheduled to make another rehab assignment later in the week," Proefrock said, adding that a velocity that has been stuck in the high 80s shouldn't be a problem. "Last year he showed he could be effective without throwing in the mid-90s."
* Righthander Roy Oswalt (lower-back inflammation): Was examined Saturday and is scheduled to throw bullpens Tuesday and Friday. "After that we'll see what the next step is. He's doing very well," Proefrock said.
* Righthander Jose Contreras (forearm strain): Will start a throwing program tomorrow in Chicago. "He's still got a ways to go," Proefrock said.
* Third baseman Placido Polanco (lower-back inflammation): Is improving and will continue to workout in Chicago. Proefrock said no decision has been made whether Polanco will go on a rehab assignment. He's eligible to come off the disabled list on Wednesday, but it's far from certain that will happen.