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Phillies Notes: Phillies picking spots to use Papelbon

Jonathan Papelbon is being paid more than any closer in baseball history, but he never left the bullpen during the Phillies' two walk-off losses to Pittsburgh.

David Maialetti/Staff Photographer
David Maialetti/Staff PhotographerRead more

Jonathan Papelbon is being paid more than any closer in baseball history, but he never left the bullpen during the Phillies' two walk-off losses to Pittsburgh.

Then he pitched the ninth inning of a 6-2 defeat to Miami on Monday and allowed an Austin Kearns home run in an otherwise forgettable outing.

Charlie Manuel, and just about every single manager in baseball, plays those decisions by the book. If the road team is tied or losing, the closer stays in the bullpen until he has a lead to save. That's the philosophy the Phillies followed during the weekend.

Still, there was a spot for Papelbon to protect a lead Sunday. With two outs and runners on first and second, the Pirates used righthanded hitting Matt Hague as a pinch-hitter against lefty Antonio Bastardo. The Phillies still led, 4-3.

Pitching coach Rich Dubee said there was no inclination to use Papelbon for a four-out save.

"No. It's too early," Dubee said. "You want to run them out there every 162 games?"

Papelbon is 31 for 39 in saves of more than three outs for his career. But there has been a downward trend in his usage during those situations. He saved all 17 of said opportunities from 2008 to 2009 but only 3 of 6 in the last two seasons.

Dubee said he's rarely seen an instance where a manager used his closer on the road in a tie game. He thought about doing it in Saturday's 10th inning until he realized there was one downside: Papelbon had already warmed up twice.

"It was like [Brad] Lidge in the All-Star Game - am I going to crank him seven times and pitch him?" Dubee said. "I was thinking 'Maybe one more inning and I might talk Charlie into using him.' It's hard. We have nobody else to close the game. Now if we had somebody else to close, like [Jose] Contreras behind, we might think about doing it.

"You can make any argument you want."

Hamels pleased

When Cole Hamels walked off the Citizens Bank Park mound for the first time in 2012, he was cheered instead of booed, as he was last April. The numbers didn't exactly indicate it, but Hamels was happy with his performance.

"I felt like my stuff was really good," Hamels said. "I was able to hit my spots early and later and all four pitches were working really well. Unfortunately, there were a few pitches that got away.

"Sometimes when you do make the right pitch, the guys are going to put it in play. You just have to hope over the course of a season, those pitches work more in your favor than not."

Qualls better

Manuel said Chad Qualls was available for use Monday but wasn't called upon. Qualls saw a team doctor before the game to examine an injury to his right heel. He warmed up in the ninth for some extra work to confirm it.

Afterward, Qualls said he was feeling better.

He could not pitch Sunday because it felt like a "knife was going at the back of my heel." Qualls was still unsure of the nature of the injury.

"I really don't know what it was," Qualls said. "It was kind of weird what happened, but I will say it's getting better."

Extra bases

Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton was scratched shortly before first pitch with left knee pain. He is day to day. . . . The Phillies are now 3-6 in openers at Citizens Bank Park. . . . Joe Savery allowed a run in 12/3 innings in his season debut. That leaves Pete Orr as the lone Phillie on the active roster yet to appear in a game.