Notes: Coste relishes elevated role
With Barajas going on DL, young catcher to play down stretch
MILWAUKEE -- Chris Coste probably wanted to smile.He just knows better. Rod Barajas' arrival on the disabled list elevated Coste to a role he had even before a strained right groin and hamstring prevented Barajas from playing. It was also a role he thought he had earned after his 2006 performance -- until the Phillies signed Barajas for $3 million over the winter. This isn't to suggest in the least that Coste is thrilled that another player is injured. But there's no mistaking that the Phillies might be better off with him catching semi-regularly. Once again, Coste will catch big games for Philadelphia down the stretch. "My hope all year long was just to get a chance to play a little bit so I could produce and earn my way to stay," Coste said. "Fortunately, this time it happened that way." Coste started the season on the disabled list, then was optioned to Triple-A Ottawa. He spent two weeks with the Phillies in May -- when Ryan Howard was on the disabled list -- then chose to go to Double-A Reading so he could catch more regularly. Barajas was batting .214 when he injured himself. Coste continued to hit and forced his way into the lineup. To replace Barajas, the Phillies opted for a 13th pitcher, recalling Clay Condrey for the fifth time this season. The genesis behind that decision is because manager Charlie Manuel must treat Tom Gordon carefully, and wanted an extra arm. Still, does Coste feel he's finally convinced management? "I would think so," Coste said. "They always knew I could hit. The catching, they were never sure about. Everybody in the clubhouse was sure, but they weren't convinced. Throwing Alfonso Soriano out [on Sunday] was a big thing. That helped my status, hopefully. But if the team wins when I catch, that's the stat that you look at the most." Emotional roller-coaster aside, Coste admitted that there were some down stretches in Reading when he thought he might not find his way back. "Absolutely," he said. "Even though you know you're only a phone call away, you can't comprehend the situation. You're where you are at that point, and it seems like it will never happen. When it does happen, it almost feels like you're reliving the dream ... it's almost too good to be true." No. 5: There Clay Condrey was, sitting at a table in the visitor's clubhouse. The right-hander received some mock "welcome backs" from teammates as he struggled with a crossword puzzle. Obviously, Condrey is happy to be back, but the travel has got to be getting to him. "It's not funny," Condrey said. "It might be funny, but when you think about it, it's not." It's not funny, but Condrey's that guy this season, having been designated for assignment four times, and had his contract purchased five times. The last time down occurred on Tuesday, when he was designated to make room for Kyle Lohse. Barajas' injury has brought him back. He spent two days with Triple-A Ottawa, before returning. Oh, the frequent flyer miles. "I could probably just go ahead and fly to the moon," Condrey said. "I'm getting tired of giving him hello and goodbye hugs all the time," Coste said. "We have agreements that if either one of us get sent out, we don't say good-bye right away. It's the truth. When he got sent out, I didn't say good-bye. I was going to call him today, but he's back ... sitting right there." Philling in: RHP Kyle Lohse is confident that he'll be able to make his next start, scheduled for Aug. 7. His right forearm is still sore, but nothing out of the ordinary. "It's nice and colored, purple and blue colors," he said. Manuel said the team will know for sure by Sunday. If Lohse can't pitch, J.D. Durbin will likely start. ... Outfielders Michael Bourn and Shane Victorino are making progress. Bourn (sprained left ankle), is walking without crutches. and Victorino (strained right calf), took swing in the batting cage. Coming up: Left-hander Cole Hamels, who'll face the Brewers at 7:05 p.m. ET, pitched eight outstanding innings at Wrigley Field on July 30. He gave up just three hits, one of which was a solo homer and the Cubs' only run. Hamels has tossed at least six innings in each of his July starts while posting a 2.31 ERA for the month.
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.