Phils eye more production at second, catcher
Team ranks last in OPS at both positions with Utley, Ruiz out
MIAMI -- The Phillies need Chase Utley and Carlos Ruiz back in their lineup soon.
Entering Wednesday's game against the Marlins at Sun Life Stadium, Phillies second basemen ranked last in the National League with a .557 on-base-plus-slugging percentage. Phillies catchers ranked last with a .574 OPS. (Ruiz was hitless in his last 21 at-bats before he went on the disabled list with lower back inflammation, but he hit .302 with a .400 on-base percentage last season.)
To put that in perspective, Astros pitchers entered the night with a .593 OPS.
"We need our lineup to get better," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said.
The Phillies rank fifth or better in OPS at first base (fifth at .864), third base (second at .826), shortstop (fourth at .749) and center field (third at .837). Pitchers rank eighth (.358), right fielders rank ninth (.744) and left fielders rank 13th (.694).
The Phillies have had very little happening offensively other than Ryan Howard, especially late in games. It might explain why they have scored just three runs in their last 35 innings against opposing relief pitchers.
"We don't have the offense we used to have," Manuel said. "We don't have the depth in our offense right now. We get Utley back, that's definitely going to help us some. But we do not have the offense we had. I've told you about the guys with the high on-base percentages. We used to lead the league in baserunners, but we also used to lead the league in runs scored."
Manuel has heard in meetings and elsewhere that scoring is down everywhere.
"That don't mean we have to have that problem," Manuel said. "I say that in meetings all the time. That's like saying if somebody jumps off a bridge, you're going to jump off with them. ... I want us to be the best team in baseball. I want to put the best players on the field. I want the best hitting, the best pitching, the best defense."
Blanton's elbow discomfort not getting worse
MIAMI -- Joe Blanton said he is fine and expects to pitch Saturday against the Braves at Turner Field.
But the Phillies right-hander still feels something in his right elbow.
"It may be related to what's been going on before," Blanton said after throwing a bullpen session Wednesday at Sun Life Stadium.
Blanton was on the disabled list recently with a medial impingement in the elbow before pitching Monday in a victory over the Marlins.
"The positive from the start to today as compared to my start in San Diego and my bullpen in Arizona is it didn't get worse," Blanton said. "It maintained. It gradually got better up to this bullpen. If I did [have concerns], they were answered today. If it got worse, I feel like I would have known it today."
Asked if it is something he might have to pitch through this season, Blanton said, "Hopefully not, but I don't know. Maybe for a little bit, but we're doing everything possible so I don't have to."
If Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee is concerned, he does not sound like it. He said Blanton is scheduled to pitch Saturday, although he said that could change if Blanton wakes up Thursday with discomfort in the elbow.
"He feels like he's able to pitch right now," Dubee said. "He's got to tell us. He's got to be honest with us. He said it wasn't any different from the other night."
Ruiz went 1-for-5 Wednesday in an extended spring training game in Clearwater, Fla. He will catch right-hander Roy Oswalt on Thursday in an official rehab game with Clearwater. Utley also is scheduled to play. Ruiz is expected to play this weekend against the Braves at Turner Field. ... Major League Baseball suspended Triple-A Lehigh Valley second baseman Kevin Frandsen for 50 games for testing positive for Ritalinic Acid. ... Elias Sports Bureau said Roy Halladay's loss Tuesday snapped a streak of 16 consecutive wins in which the Phillies gave him the lead. Halladay is 25-2 in 28 starts when the Phillies give him the lead.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.