Rich Dubee advocates honesty with his pitchers. The Phillies pitching coach has learned to not expect it in every situation. The better he knows a man, the better he can detect a lie.
He is not familiar with Mike Adams, the 34-year-old reliever hailed as a panacea for the Phillies' eighth-inning woes. There were times this season when Adams' body betrayed him and he informed Dubee of those moments. Other times, Dubee guessed, Adams pitched through pain.
As Adams was again placed Saturday on the disabled list with biceps tendinitis, Dubee did not regret how his pitcher was handled.
"Regret, why? I don't think anyone pitches 100 percent all year," Dubee said. "When you're told he's available and you think he's going to be OK, then you try to go with him. Nobody's healthy."
Adams missed 16 days with a back injury in May. He returned without pitching in a minor-league rehab game and then complained of "tenderness" in his right biceps. That injury portends a shoulder problem for a pitcher with a history of shoulder problems.
He is responsible for four losses with a 3.96 ERA and has been unable to pitch on consecutive days at various junctures.
The Phillies spent $12 million on Adams last winter, making him their most lucrative addition. In November, he had surgery to correct thoracic outlet syndrome by removing a rib near his shoulder that caused numbness in his arm. He had rotator cuff surgery in 2008.
Righthander J.C. Ramirez was selected to replace Adams in the bullpen (with infielder Michael Martinez designated for assignment to clear the roster spot), although the onus of the eighth inning is likely to fall on 25-year-old Justin De Fratus. Ramirez, acquired in the ill-fated second Cliff Lee trade, had a 6.53 ERA in 23 triple-A games.
"He's the one guy who they said was throwing the ball well," Dubee said. "He's the guy they recommended. I don't see them."
It is telling the team did not summon a reliever, like Phillippe Aumont, already on the 40-man roster. Aumont has a 6.75 ERA at triple-A Lehigh Valley since his demotion and cannot find the strike zone. Lefties Cesar Jimenez, Raul Valdes, and Mauricio Robles have thrown well at triple A, but the Phillies possess three lefthanders in their current bullpen.
The team's handling of Adams is curious. He was not right during the last three weeks. His ERA was 5.40 after being activated from the DL. Manager Charlie Manuel insisted Adams needed work, but he could not pitch on a regular schedule because his health prevented it.
Rather than have him strengthen in the minors, the Phillies pushed him to do it in tight situations. Just two of his 11 outings since May 27 were clean innings.