Roberto Hernandez is making a temporary move to the bullpen and that could set up some sensational pitching matchups when the Phillies play the Washington Nationals this weekend at Citizens Bank Park.
With off days wrapped around the Phillies' two-game series with the New York Mets, manager Ryne Sandberg said Tuesday that Hernandez's scheduled turn Friday would be skipped. In that scenario, the Phillies will send Cliff Lee, A.J. Burnett, and Cole Hamels to the mound to face the Nationals.
"I don't have the final word, but that's a strong possibility with the off days that he'll be out in the bullpen," Sandberg said. "He's done that before. It's not a mystery for him to throw out of the bullpen. He knows the routine."
Hernandez (1-1 with a 5.81 ERA as a starter this season) made his 40th relief appearance Tuesday night against the Mets. He was 0-6 with one save and a 4.50 ERA when pitching out of the bullpen before Tuesday, and 60-77 with a 4.71 ERA as a starter.
The Nationals also have scheduled off days Monday and Thursday. Their likely weekend starters appear to be Stephen Strasburg (vs. Lee) on Friday, Tanner Roark (vs. Burnett) on Saturday, and Gio Gonzalez (vs. Hamels) on Sunday.
The potential glitch in those glamour matchups is the weather. Sandberg said the Phillies were going to strive to get Tuesday's game against the Mets in because Wednesday's forecast is calling for heavy rain.
If Wednesday's game is postponed, the Phillies would have to decide if they want to skip Kyle Kendrick's turn in the rotation so they can have their top three starters pitch against the Nationals. A Wednesday rainout with the Mets could not be played Thursday because New York has a game scheduled that night in Colorado.
After spending almost all of spring training with the Phillies but failing to make the 25-man roster, Bobby Abreu signed a minor-league contract with the Mets and spent 15 games at triple-A Las Vegas before joining the big-league club earlier this month.
He entered play Tuesday with two hits, including a home run, in 10 at-bats for New York. Abreu said he had no ill feelings about the way things ended with the Phillies.
"It was fine," Abreu said. "When I signed, I knew it was going to be hard to make the team. I wanted to take that chance. I wanted to play and the Mets told me to go to Vegas so they could see how I was playing and I had no problem with that."
Abreu hit .395 (15 for 38) with four doubles, a home run, and nine RBIs at Las Vegas.
Darin Ruf (strained left oblique) has been taking batting practice and is expected to participate in an extended spring-training game by the end of the week, according to Sandberg. . . . Ethan Martin (inflamed right shoulder) has pitched in two extended- spring games and is being groomed to pitch in a relief role, the manager said. . . . Sandberg said Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez (shoulder) is "throwing the ball well and looks a lot better" than he did in spring training. "Better velocity and better stuff," Sandberg said.