AN MRI on injured setup man Mike Adams revealed a mild strain in the middle of his back, but the Phillies remain hopeful that they will not have to place the veteran righthander on the disabled list.
Adams has not pitched since May 10, but the Phillies have been carrying an extra reliever the whole time, so they have not felt shorthanded. General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said that the team does not feel as if it needs to make a decision on sending Adams to the disabled list until Tuesday, when they need to call up a fifth starter for a game against the Marlins.
"We've never been shorthanded," Amaro said. "At that point [Tuesday], if he's still not ready to play, we may DL him, but until then, there is no real urgency to fill in. It's not like people are overworked out there."
Earlier in the day, the Phillies called up righthander B.J. Rosenberg from Triple A Lehigh Valley to replace the ineffective Raul Valdes, who was optioned to the minors. Valdes had allowed five home runs in 20 innings over 10 appearances, posting a 7.65 ERA with 9.5 strikeouts per nine innings and 3.2 walks per nine.
"We're going to see if he's better than Valdes," Amaro said. "Pretty simple. He's been bad; most of our middle relievers have not been very good. So we'll see if Rosey can come in. His last time, he threw pretty good, he's stretched out, so he can go long. So we'll see."
Rosenberg appeared in 22 games for the Phllies last season, posting a 6.12 ERA, 8.6 K/9, 5.0 BB/9 and 1.4 HR/9 in 25 innings. His numbers at Triple A are relatively pedestrian this season, although he has been pitching as a starter. In seven starts, the 27-year-old righthander has a 4.30 ERA in 37 2/3 innings. He is averaging 5.7 strikeouts per nine, 4.8 walks per nine and 0.7 home runs per nine. But Amaro said the team thought that Rosenberg was pitching the best from among the available options. He is coming off an start of seven scoreless innings against Durham, when he struck out three and walked one while allowing four hits for his first win of the year.
The other obvious options were righthander Mike Stutes and lefty Joe Savery, both of whom have spent extended stretches with the Phillies over the past few seasons.
Stutes, who missed most of 2012 with a shoulder injury that eventually required surgery, had a scoreless streak of 10 2/3 innings snapped on Thursday night, but his numbers over his last eight appearances are impressive: 11 2/3 innings, 11 strikeouts, two walks, one run, eight hits, and no home runs. That's a vast improvement over his first nine outings, when he walked eight, struck out 11 and allowed 10 run - in 12 innings.
Savery was not available to be called up, because he had not spent the required 10 days in the minors since the Phillies optioned him after a brief stint on the major league roster.
"We tell the guys the same thing, whoever is pitching better at the time we need somebody, we'll bring," Amaro said. "That's kind of the case with Rosey. Stutes has been kind of inconsistent. He's been OK. But he's been a little inconsistent. If he was pitching better, it would have been Stutesy probably."
Middle relief has been a glaring weakness for the Phillies through the first quarter of the season. Valdes, lefty Jeremy Horst and righty Chad Durbin each have an ERA over 5.20 in a combined 49 1/3 innings. The trio have allowed 18 of the 36 runners they have inherited to score.
"Durbin has more of a track record than the other guys," Amaro said. "He's going to have to pitch better. I think he knows it. How long of a leash he has, I do not know. But he needs to pitch better.
As of today, the Phillies' plan for Carlos Zambrano is open-ended. He is scheduled to throw between 30 and 40 pitches today in an extended spring training game. That will be followed by another appearance in an extended spring game, followed by, perhaps, some outings in affiliated ball. General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said yesterday the Phillies will not have an idea about what to expect form Zambrano until the longtime Cubs star is stretched out and able to pitch a normal workload.
Zambrano, who signed a minor league contract earlier this week, will not be an option when the Phillies need a fifth starter on Tuesday.
Neither will John Lannan, who figures to miss at least a couple more turns through the rotation. Lannan, who has been sidelined with a strained quadriceps tendon since mid-April, will throw a bullpen session on May 20 or 21. Whether that is followed by a rehab outing remains to be seen.
"He's closer, but he's not close yet," Amaro said. "A lot of it will depend on how he feels when he gets out there."