DENVER - The Coors Field employee walked through the tunnel that takes you into the visiting clubhouse. He handed a baseball and a piece of paper to one of the clubhouse attendants with a message to deliver, too.
"This has been authenticated," he said, "in case the play gets changed."
The clubby passed the items and words along to Ryan Howard, who was sitting in the middle of the room enjoying a postgame meal.
"Just put it over there," Howard said, pointing to the equipment bag sitting in front of his locker.
The ball was one that came off Howard's bat on an 0-2 pitch from lefthander Boone Logan. It made its way safely into rightfield and brought Jimmy Rollins in with the go-ahead run in the seventh inning.
It was Howard's fourth hit of the day, tying a career high. And since he landed safely on second, after hitting a single, a home run and a triple earlier in the game, one could at least try to make the argument that it was a double, although the ball squibbed under rightfielder Brandon Barnes' glove.
The ball was ruled a single and an error on Barnes.
"I had no clue what was going on," Howard said. "I really didn't. My goal was just to get the run home, and I was able to do that. That was what I was worried about more than anything else. If it turns out being a cycle, that'd be great."
Howard finished the game 4-for-5 with three RBI. He came a double away from becoming the first Phillies player to record a cycle since 2004 (David Bell) and the last to do so on the road since 1963 (Johnny Callison).
Off the bat, the ball looked like a lazy, light-hit fly ball to shallow right that Barnes misplayed. The Phillies likely will protest the official scorer's decision, however.
"In my eyes [it was a double]," manager Ryne Sandberg said. "He went for a shoestring catch there for me and the ball got by him for a double. He went for the catch. There's no guarantee he knocks that down and makes it a single. He went for the catch on a tough ball."
For Howard, though, arguably the bigger accomplishment was battling back from an 0-2 count against a veteran lefthander to get a hit and knock in a pivotal run, too. After 18 games, Howard is hitting .262 with an .868 OPS, four home runs and 10 RBI.
He's on pace for 36 home runs.
"He could pick it up some, get eight home runs a month, be on pace to be Ryan Howard," Rollins said. "I'm joking. He's getting his swing . . . It's a good sign for him."
"It's a work in progress," Howard said. "Just trying to take it as it comes. Today was a good day. Just have to try to continue to build off of that."
And if it comes with a memento in the form of an authenticated ball from his first career cycle?
"Hopefully it will," Howard said. "It looked like he might be a little bit in between whether he was going to get to the ball or keep it in front. I just tried to keep running. The goal was to get the run home, and it's what I was able to achieve. Anything else would have been a bonus."
Camp in camp
When the Phillies sent Jonathan Pettibone to Triple A late Friday night and added an extra arm to the bullpen until Cole Hamels is activated on Wednesday, they selected 38-year-old righthander Shawn Camp.
Camp called it both a privilege and a blessing.
"I set my sights on this," Camp said yesterday morning in the visitors' clubhouse at Coors Field. "I always wanted to play in Philly."
Camp is from Fairfax, Va., and makes an offseason home in Florida. So, why Philly? Camp attended Game 4 of the 2008 World Series at Citizens Bank Park as a friend of ex-teammate and then Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Edwin Jackson.
"I just remember the towels [waving]," Camp said. "It was just a great atmosphere."
Camp is hoping to stick around longer than the 2 days before Hamels is activated and he stands a decent chance. No righthander in the Phillies' bullpen has pitched with consistency in the first 3 weeks.
Camp had a 7.04 ERA in 26 games with the Chicago Cubs last season. Two years ago, in 2012, he led baseball with 80 appearances and had a 3.59 ERA with the Cubs.
"There's a lot more that goes into it than the human eye will see," Camp said of his 2013 season, when he spent the final 3 months in the minors. "A lot of things went on personally in my life that I had to tend to. Sometimes those mental challenges are just as tough as the physical ones. I never felt like I couldn't pitch [in the big leagues]. I made that clear. If I didn't think I could, I wouldn't have continued to try to put a uniform too. But I feel comfortable with my ability to get outs."
Cole Hamels threw a bullpen session yesterday morning, his first side session since rejoining the Phillies at Coors Field this weekend. Hamels will make his first start of the 2014 season Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium. He will pitch opposite Los Angeles righthander Zack Greinke (3-0, 2.42 ERA). Greinke, who was chosen 11 spots before Hamels in the 2002 draft, is baseball's highest-paid player in 2014. He is earning $28 million this season. Ryan Howard and Cliff Lee (both $25 million) are tied for second. Hamels, at $23.5 million, is sixth on the list . . . Roberto Hernandez, on pitching at Coors Field for the first time in his 9-year career: "Wow." Hernandez yielded six runs on nine hits in four-plus innings.