PHILADELPHIA -- Hunter Pence said this week in Los Angeles that the mere presence of Chase Utley and Ryan Howard in the Phillies' lineup has had a positive effect on everybody, both tangible and intangible.
It certainly seems to have helped Pence. Utley returned from the disabled list on June 27. Howard returned July 6. Pence was hitting .196 (19-for-97) with two doubles, one triple, three home runs, 27 RBIs and a .640 OPS with runners in scoring position from the beginning of the season through June 28. He is hitting .450 (9-for-20) with one home run, 11 RBIs and a 1.076 OPS with runners in scoring position since.
"I think that he's been hitting the ball with guys on base," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said, implying it's just a matter of coincidence Pence has done a better job with RISP lately. "I think he's cutting and hitting it."
So having Utley and Howard back hasn't help relax him? Pence acknowledged putting too much pressure on himself earlier this season.
"I think he's been bearing down," Manuel said. "I think that he's really been concentrating on hitting the ball with guys on base. That's what I think, really."
Talks between Hamels, Phils may be heating up
PHILADELPHIA -- Cole Hamels could be making his final start for the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on Saturday.
Or it could be his final start at home before the club announces a lucrative contract extension.
Sources said Friday that talks between the Phillies and Hamels have heated up. MLB.com's Peter Gammons reported the Phillies are willing to offer Hamels an extension in the six-year, $130 million range. It might take more money than that, but the Phillies almost certainly need to offer Hamels at least a six-year deal to have any shot at signing him to an extension before the July 31 Trade Deadline.
"No comment," general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said.
"Nope," Hamels said, asked if he had a moment to talk.
If the Phillies cannot reach an agreement with Hamels before the Trade Deadline, they seem likely to trade the lefty rather than let him leave via free agency following the season.
Ruiz wins Phillies' Heart and Hustle Award
PHILADELPHIA -- Carlos Ruiz, the Phillies' first-half MVP and a 2012 All-Star, was presented with the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association Heart and Hustle Award before Friday night's game against the Giants.
The Phillies' catcher is one of 30 preliminary winners. The final winner will be announced on Nov. 13.
The award, which was presented by former Phillie Greg Luzinski on behalf of the MLBPAA, rewarded every year to the player "who demonstrates a passion for the game of baseball and best embodies the values, spirit and traditions of the game."
Ruiz is certainly deserving of the honor. He entered Friday fourth in the Majors with a .350 batting average. Through 84 games, he's shattered his career high in homers with 14 and, with 51 RBIs, should soon surpass his career-high 54.
Roy Halladay was the 2010 recipient of the award, which is voted on by former players.
Outfielder Laynce Nix, who has been out with a left calf strain since May 9, could return to the Phillies this week. Nix started in left field and hit third for Triple-A Lehigh Valley on Friday, the seventh game of his rehab assignment. He went 4-for-16 with a homer and four RBIs in six rehab games with Class A Clearwater.
"I understand he's very close," Phils manager Charlie Manuel.
Nix was scheduled to play first base in another rehab game with Lehigh Valley on Saturday, according to the Allentown Morning Call.
There is no update on catcher Brian Schneider, who went on the 15-day disabled list on June 25 with a sprained right ankle.
"He's on a routine right now and as soon as [the trainers] feel like that he's ready to go, I'm sure they'll tell us," Manuel said.
A Roger Waters concert on Saturday left the outfield at Citizens Bank Park discolored, and indents from the stage can be seen on the grass. A few hours before Friday's game, Manuel said he had not yet walked around the grass, "but if there is anyway possible that grass can hurt us, I'm sure it'll jump up and do it," he joked.
Shane Victorino entered Friday's game two hits shy of 1,000 for his career.
Double-A Reading center fielder Tyson Gillies continues to disappoint. The team suspended him Thursday for disciplinary reasons.
"It happens," general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "We'll get him back on the field."
Gillies has had a hard time staying on the field. He played just 28 games in 2010 because of hamstring injuries. He later was arrested on a cocaine possession charge, which was later dropped. He played just three games in '11 because of hamstring problems. He then missed time this season because of a concussion.