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Phillies Notebook: Phillies opt for versatile Martinez to take Utley's roster spot

With Ruf dinged and other choices not as viable, Phillies think Michael Martinez offers them the most options.

Michael Martinez in action during an exhibition spring training baseball game against the Houston Astros, Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013, in Clearwater, in Fla. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Michael Martinez in action during an exhibition spring training baseball game against the Houston Astros, Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013, in Clearwater, in Fla. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)Read more

WASHINGTON - Darin Ruf was scratched from the starting lineup before Triple A Lehigh Valley's game last night.

But Ruf was not in Washington, either.

Rather than call up the righthanded power hitter who hit 38 home runs in the minor leagues last year and three more in 12 games with the Phillies last September, the front office called on the 30-year-old utility infielder with the .188 career batting average.

Michael Martinez, and not Ruf, infield prospect Cesar Hernandez or even Pete Orr, was summoned to Washington to take Chase Utley's place on the active roster. Utley was placed on the 15-day DL with a mild oblique strain on Thursday night.

So why Martinez - who hit .174 with a .461 OPS in 2012 - in his place?

"We could always use somebody to run," manager Charlie Manuel explained. "If we take Delmon [Young] out of the game [for defense], we might want to keep [John] Mayberry [Jr.] back to hit . . . Michael is a switch-hitter. He can play a lot of positions. Hopefully, we won't have to run Cliff [Lee] anymore."

Manuel did have to use Lee to pinch-run on Sunday, and the pitcher was picked off. That was a far better fate, however, than risking that the $25 million pitcher gets hurt on the basepaths.

Regardless, the Phils are using the 25th spot on the roster for a guy such as Martinez - a versatile, if not talented, player who doesn't expect to play much - instead of on a bat with the potential to make a difference in an underperforming offense.

The team passed on Ruf, in part, because he's been struggling of late. He entered yesterday hitting .195 with 16 strikeouts in his last 10 games. He also suffered a jammed thumb Thursday, which is why he was scratched last night.

Hernandez wasn't considered because he's a developing prospect who wasn't suited to sit on the bench; Freddy Galvis will be the everyday second baseman in Utley's absence. Orr, according to assistant general manager Scott Proefrock, isn't as versatile as Martinez.

"I think the better fit was someone who could play all over the field," Proefrock said. "We've got two [interleague] games. It would be hard to find [Ruf] a place to play and it probably wouldn't be the right fit. At this particular point in time, Michael would step into what Freddy's role is and play all over the field. He can play some centerfield if he had to. He's been here before. That seemed to make some more sense than something like that."

While Martinez replaced Utley on the roster, Utley is with the team in Washington and plans to travel with the team during his DL stint.

Utley could forgo a minor league rehab assignment, take part in some simulated game at-bats, and hop back in the lineup when he's eligible to return on June 5. That is at least the optimistic view from management, which believes Utley should be able to return after the minimum stay on the DL.

Utley, however, was a little more conservative when talking about an injury that requires such patience.

"Obviously, I'd like to be back in 15 days," Utley said. "But I don't think it's smart to come back if it's not ready. So we'll know more probably in a week or so."

Utley was scratched from Tuesday's game in Miami after feeling a pain in his right side during batting practice. He was encouraged yesterday, despite his cautious approach.

"I feel a little better today than I felt 2 days ago," Utley said, "so that's a good sign."

To make room on the 40-man roster for Martinez, the Phils transferred Roy Halladay (shoulder surgery) to the 60-day DL.

Stutes rejoins team

Mike Stutes hasn't pitched in a major league game in more than 13 months.

The 26-year-old righthander joined the Phils yesterday at Nationals Park. Stutes, who allowed one run in his last 10 appearances at Triple A Lehigh Valley, replaced Phillippe Aumont on the roster. Stutes pitched two perfect innings last night and struck out two.

Stutes had arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder last June and was one of the final cuts as the Phils assembled their bullpen this spring.

"I was pretty rusty," Stutes said of struggling with command this spring. "I hadn't thrown to hitters in a while. The game speed kind of caught up to me a bit. Now, I'm feeling very comfortable out there, and I feel a lot more in control than I did before."

Stutes had a 0.63 ERA and held opponents to a .157 batting average at Lehigh this month. He struck out 14 and walked three in 14 1/3 innings.

Stutes said his success has come in part from reconnecting with a slider that helped him enjoy success as a rookie with the Phils in 2011.

"I changed my grip on it, so it has a slightly different spin out of my hand," Stutes said. "[But] it should be back up to where it was, being more around 85 [mph], instead of down toward 77, which is where it was toward the end of 2011."

Adams update

When he threw a bullpen session a day ahead of the original plan this week in Miami, it was Mike Adams' goal to be activated off the disabled list tomorrow, the first day he is eligible to return. Pitching coach Rich Dubee threw a wet blanket on that later in the same day, however, saying Adams wouldn't be ready until Tuesday at the earliest.

But, after facing hitters in Clearwater, Fla., yesterday, Adams is back on for tomorrow. The Phils announced that Adams would be activated for the game in Washington.

The 34-year-old setup man hasn't pitched for the Phillies since May 10 after experiencing back spasms. He was placed on the DL earlier this week, backdated to May 11.

"While he was a little rusty after not having thrown in several days, he physically felt fine," general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said in a statement.

The Phils will make a roster move to accommodate Adams before tomorrow's game. B.J. Rosenberg, who has been scored on in 10 of his 24 major league games in the last two seasons, is the likely candidate to go back to Triple A.