Notes: Coste happy to be in bigs
Catcher called up while Howard mends sore left quadriceps
PHILADELPHIA -- Someday, Chris Coste will finish his second book of baseball tales, a collection still in search of an ending. For now, there's still the matter of playing the sport he loves for as long as he can."I can't wait to read that book," said Clay Condrey, one of Coste's closest friends. "I hope I get the first copy, too. I better have at least one quote in there." "Oh, he'll get a complimentary copy," Coste said with a laugh, then added. "Free of charge, even." Coste's latest promotion -- nearly a year from the time he thought he was promoted for good on May 21, 2006 -- comes as Ryan Howard mends his sore left quadriceps muscle. It also comes after Coste was dealt an unfair helping of perspective. The career minor hit .328 in 198 at-bats after that 2006 callup, and caught the majority of the Phillies' games down the stretch, proving he could handle that demanding position at the Major League level. While joining the Phillies on many Winter Tour events, the 34-year-old saw a sinister scenario playing out. Catcher Rod Barajas arrived, then Jayson Werth and lefty Greg Dobbs. The bench situation suddenly looked crowded. As general manager Pat Gillick consistently mentioned Werth's ability to catch if needed, and with Carlos Ruiz and Barajas on board, Coste thought the worst. A strained hamstring suffered in Spring Training didn't help. On April 8, after recovering from the hamstring, Coste was quietly and unceremoniously optioned to Triple-A Ottawa, where the cold of Canada didn't sit well. The .328 he hit meant nothing. "Unfortunately, it's in the past," Coste said. "I was bitter for about a week, but it went away. I spent so much time in the Minor Leagues that I was able to adjust, and, fortunately, I was going to a team where I didn't have just teammates, but friends." It wasn't easy. Dining in a downtown Ottawa restaurant with Condrey one night, they watched a Phillies game on satellite. "It was weird," Coste said. "Clay said he'd give anything to sit in that bullpen. I'd give anything to be sitting on the bench. After last year, I felt a part of Philadelphia. Not being on the team right away was pretty tough to handle. I become a contributing member of the team to being in Ottawa, and that was a pretty big fall." He sighed, taking a minute to look around the clubhouse. "At the same time, even on the hardest days that first week when I was really depressed, I knew there was always a chance to come back," Coste said. "The problem is I'm here at the expense of Ryan Howard, and he's obviously going to come back and be as strong as ever. I'm going to make sure to enjoy my time here because it's very finite." As for that final chapter, "I haven't totally decided if I'm going to end the book with the chapter on last season or not. Let's see how this turns out." Bullpen woes, still: Whenever manager Charlie Manuel hands the ball to a reliever, bad things happen. More pain was inflicted Sunday, when Antonio Alfonseca loaded the bases with one out in the ninth inning, as he was charged with two additional runs. In his last eight appearances, the right-hander has a 13.48 ERA. It's not just Alfonseca. Other than Geoff Geary and Brett Myers, Manuel hasn't found a reliable option, with Fabio Castro, Yoel Hernandez, Condrey and Francisco Rosario having limited big-league experience. Manuel is searching for someone. "I like to see them get in games, but we're trying to win," Manuel said. "They need to get comfortable at the Major League level and prove to themselves that they can pitch. All of a sudden, you throw them into a tough spot -- maybe you're asking a lot out of them." Philling in:The Phillies announced that the June 16 game against the Detroit Tigers will start at 7:05 p.m. FOX was originally going to televise the 3:55 p.m. game, but Comcast will televise it instead. ... LHP Mike Zagurski was promoted from Single-A Clearwater to Double-A Reading. He posted a 1.10 ERA and five saves in 12 appearances for the Threshers, striking out 30 and walking four in just 16 1/3 innings. ... With one run allowed on Sunday, Jon Lieber has a 2.20 ERA as a starter this season. ... Sunday's attendance of 45,129 was the fourth-largest crowd in Citizens Bank Park history and the largest crowd this season. ... Pat Burrell had an outfield assist in the sixth inning, the Phillies' Major League-leading 18th this season.
Coming up: Jamie Moyer, who will get the start Monday night against the Brewers at 7:05 ET, survived two solo homers in his previous outing, and won his fourth game with seven solid innings. He got the better of Randy Johnson in that outing, allowing six hits in the effort and has logged at least six innings in all seven starts this season. Against the Brewers, Moyer is 8-5 with a 3.46 ERA in 19 career outings, having faced Milwaukee when the franchise was a member of both leagues.
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.