Notes: Werth always on the ready
Phillies right fielder sees himself as starter in Major Leagues
MIAMI -- A day after belting two homers, Jayson Werth's name was absent from the lineup. This was expected, considering that he is 0-for-7 against Marlins starter Byung-Hyun Kim in his career, with three strikeouts."I haven't had much success against him," Werth said. "Hopefully, as the season goes on, I'll get some more at-bats." The fact that Werth can discuss his lack of playing time vs. not being able to play, period, is a welcome conversation for the right-fielder, who missed most of the past two seasons recovering from a left wrist injury that threatened to end his career. Within eight hours of being non-tendered by the Dodgers, Werth received a phone call from Phillies general manager Pat Gillick. The next day, Gillick visited his Springfield, Ill., home, making Werth's decision to select Philadelphia easier. Despite the potential of more playing time with suitors St. Louis, Washington and Oakland, among others, Werth thought Philadelphia was a good fit. Besides, the Phillies were shopping Pat Burrell and listening to offers for Aaron Rowand, scenarios which could benefit Werth. When nothing materialized, Werth prepared for his bench role. He's received 42 at-bats this season, and smacked his first two homers of the season in Tuesday's loss. "It's tough because I didn't play last year," Werth said. "In some respects, I understand why he hasn't put me in there [because of concerns about his wrist]. At the same time, I welcome the at-bats and the playing time. I'll take it for what's it's worth. I still feel I have the ability to play every day in the big leagues." With regular playing time, Werth has produced, evidenced by his 16 homers in 290 at-bats in 2004. He batted .234 in 337 at-bats in 2005, but was still bothered by his wrist. With a healthy wrist, Werth feels ready to contribute. Returning to an everyday player role will come. "It was my decision to sign here, and I feel I made the right choice," Werth said. "This was my number one team. I still feel like I'll end up being an everyday player at some point in my career. I just turned 28 the other day (May 20), and feel like I have at least 10 years left. I just want to do my job when I get in there." Nice-looking lineup: It was hard for Michael Bourn to miss the significance of seeing his name at the top of Philadelphia's lineup, playing in left field. After appearing in 35 of the team's first 45 games, Bourn was set to start game 46. "It just caught me off-guard," Bourn said, adding that he wasn't nervous more than three hours before game time. "It will probably hit me when I get out there [just before the game starts]." With side-arming right-hander Byung-Hyun Kim pitching for the Marlins, Manuel thought it was a good time to go to the speedy Bourn, who has gone 5-for-20 with four steals this season. Like Werth the night before, Bourn made Manuel look like a genius when he walked leading off the game, stole second, went to third when Kim's pickoff attempt went off his arm into center field, and scored on a homer by Chase Utley. He drew another walk in the fourth, and was pinch-hit for in the sixth. The Phillies' decision to use Bourn off the bench begged the question of whether the 24-year-old would lose developmental time by not playing every day for Triple-A Ottawa. Bourn is happy to be with the Phillies because "Ottawa is too cold," and learning from watching big-league hitters has been a fine trade off. "You come in here and see Jimmy [Rollins] and Chase try to make an adjustment within the game," Bourn said. "In the Minors, you're not really doing that. You're trying to make adjustments the next game instead of in the game. [Here], they might get two at-bats, then come in [the clubhouse and watch video] and see how pitcher's pitching them, then get hits in their next two at-bats. You gotta put that in your membrane. I've learned a lot." Brooks Kieschnick, reincarnated: With Ryan Howard expected to be activated Friday, manager Charlie Manuel is weighing whether to keep Chris Coste as a bench player, which would mean going with 11 pitchers. While he's still leaning toward keeping that number at 12, Coste offered another suggestion. "Brooks Kieschnick," Coste said, with a smile, referencing the former Milwaukee Brewer who carved out a niche as a pitcher and hitter for the Brewers. "I can do that. I can throw strikes at 68 miles per hour." Coste, who lists catching, first base and third base on his resume, then launched into a story about his days pitching for Concordia College, in Moorhead, Minn. In 1993-94, Coste went 14-2 with a 2.62 ERA with the Cobbers, in addition to hitting .434. He's willing to pitch again, if that will help. It might not. "It depends on if we had a strong enough staff to carry 11," Manuel said. "I don't know if we're there yet." Philling in: The Phillies entered Wednesday's game hitting .184 (28-for-152) in the past five games, dropping their team batting average to .263. Shortstop Jimmy Rollins has been a big reason, hitting .154, and has eight hits in his previous 55 at-bats. Coming Up: Right-hander Jon Lieber (2-2, 3.00), who is starting tomorrow's series finale in Florida at 7:05 p.m. ET, has been in a groove since returning to the starting rotation, and is coming off a May 18 outing in which he tossed seven solid innings, walking none and striking out seven. The right-hander has a 2.50 ERA as a starter this season. He faces Marlins ace left-hander Dontrelle Willis (6-3, 4.86).
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.