PHILADELPHIA -- Left-hander Antonio Bastardo was a lights-out reliever for the Phillies in 2011, allowing just 28 hits in 58 innings while striking out 70. Last season he struggled to repeat that level of success, posting a 4.33 ERA.
In his first seven appearances this year, Bastardo has yet to allow an earned run. He's given up one hit and three walks in 6 1/3 innings with six strikeouts. And, yes, he said he thinks he's back to where he was two years ago.
"I think my mechanics and my focus are a little better to be able to throw the ball down, and at a different angle, too. And that's given my ball more life with better command," the 27-year-old said.
Pitching coach Rich Dubee also attributed Bastardo's early success to the acquisition of Mike Adams to be the setup man for closer Jonathan Papelbon, a role Bastardo was sometimes thrust into a year ago.
"I think because of having Adams here, we've been able to put him in some situations that he's better suited for. Last year when he had to face the middle of right-handed-hitting lineups in the eighth inning, that's tough for a lefty to do," Dubee said.
"You look at his numbers last year and he was really good against left-handed hitters again [.169 opponents' average], so he was doing pretty much the same stuff. Being able to get in better situations, I think his confidence is growing again."
Added manager Charlie Manuel: "So far, he's really kept the ball down good. Even when he gets behind on the hitters, he's been able to throw low strikes and come back and make them either put the ball in play or strike them out. That's what I see."
Phils call on Pettibone for MLB debut Monday
PHILADELPHIA -- Right-hander Jonathan Pettibone will be starting, as scheduled, Monday. The only difference is that instead of pitching for Triple-A Lehigh Valley against Buffalo in Allentown, he'll be making his Major League debut for the Phillies against the Pirates at Citizens Bank Park.
Needing a rotation replacement for left-hander John Lannan, who is on the disabled list with a strained left knee, the organization turned to a 22-year-old who was 0-1 with a 9.64 ERA after two starts with the IronPigs.
"I think it lined up well for him. He's a guy who's got stuff. He hasn't pitched great this year yet, but his stuff has been good. The reports about his stuff and competitiveness have been good," said general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. "His command hasn't been great. Hopefully he's got enough weapons and guile to pitch well for us. He's got a pretty good arsenal. We'll see how he competes."
Command will be the key for Pettibone, ranked No. 4 among the Phillies' top prospects by MLB.com.
"He's a pitcher. He's not, I don't think, going to overpower people. He's got to have location, command, be able to get his secondary stuff over the plate," manager Charlie Manuel said. "He was in line to pitch, so that's who we brought up. There are about three guys down there that we think about, but the way the rotation as going, it kind of fell on Pettibone.
"He definitely has a future ahead of him and we had to have somebody to pitch. So we'll see."
Bullpen coach Rod Nichols was his pitching coach at Lehigh Valley at the end of last season.
"He's going to bring good presence. He carries himself extremely well on the mound. He's got four pitches. He's actually got two different sliders and a cutter he throws in there. He's kind of a [Clay] Buchholz-type guy in that he relies on his changeup quite a bit," Nichols said, referring to the Red Sox right-hander. "He has to be throwing strikes with his changeup. That's a big pitch for him."
The hope is that he won't be overwhelmed by the moment. "Because he has that presence, hopefully he knows he's going to belong here. And that's going to be a key," Nichols said.
Part of Pettibone's composure may come from the fact that his father, Jay, pitched for the Twins in 1983 ... and a year later pitched for Manuel at Double-A Charlotte.
Lannan is expected to miss six to eight weeks, but Amaro wouldn't say how long Pettibone will be up or whether he'll get more than one start.
Left-hander Joe Savery was optioned back to Lehigh Valley after the game to make room for Pettibone on the roster.
Delmon begins rehab stint for Phils at Class A
PHILADELPHIA -- Delmon Young, making his return from ankle surgery, officially began his rehab assignment Sunday for Class A Clearwater. General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. has said he's more focused on Young's defense in right field than his offense. He repeated that before Sunday's game, even though the Phillies had scored three or fewer runs in eight of their previous nine games at the time.
"Obviously, we want his bat. But if he can't play defense, he's not going to play in the National League. He's got to be adequate out there," Amaro said.
Young had a single in four at-bats plus a sacrifice fly in his first rehab game and was charged with an error.
Phillies manager Charlie Manuel, who would love to have Young's bat in the lineup, had a slightly different stance.
"If he can produce on offense, more than likely we can defense for him in the outfield late in the game. It's not like we want to embarrass him, but if he can help us offensively, then I think we have to give him a chance," Manuel said.
No matter what, Young doesn't represent a quick fix. Manuel estimated that he'll need 10-14 days of at-bats before the team could consider adding him to the active roster.
• Catcher Carlos Ruiz, who is serving a 25-game suspension for using a banned amphetamine, will have a second X-ray on his wrist after being hit by a pitch on Friday in an extended spring game. But general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said he still expects Ruiz to play in a rehab game Tuesday or Wednesday and be activated Sunday when he's eligible.
"His X-rays were negative, but we may just check him again [Monday] for precautionary reasons. He's improved but we just want to be cautious. We want to make sure there's nothing small in there," Amaro said.
• First baseman Ryan Howard, who had missed two games with a sore groin, was back in the lineup Sunday night.
Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.