04/01/06 7:50 PM ET
Notes: Bell back with a bang
Third baseman collects four hits in exhibition game
By Andy Jasner / Special to MLB.com
He hung up shirts. He put away cleats.
Bell says his back is feeling fine and he expects to stay.
"I do feel good, and I'm excited to start the season," said Bell, who was 1-for-5 in a Minor League game on Friday before flying back to Philadelphia and rejoining the Phillies. "My back is good and I feel good."
Bell said he's hopeful his back cooperates, because he's looking forward to playing a major role this season.
"Again, I'm feeling good and I expect it to stay that way," Bell said. "We built some great momentum last season and continued it in Spring Training. We expect it to carry right over into the regular season."
Abraham Nunez started Saturday's game at third base while Bell was the designated hitter. Bell looked sharp, connecting on singles in each of first two at-bats. He also doubled to right field in his third at-bat and homered in his fourth, finishing 4-for-5.
The Phillies will start Bell at third base in Sunday's game against the Red Sox. If his back holds up, he almost certainly will be named to the final roster. After Saturday's win, the Phillies announced that they sent Chris Roberson down to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. That means Tomas Perez has earned a roster spot -- for now -- since 33-year-old rookie Chris Coste isn't on the active roster.
If Bell's lingering back issue resurfaces on Sunday, Coste could still make the roster.
"We've just got to see where Bell's at [on Sunday]," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said.
"Even though I was hurt this spring, I'm not hurt right now," Bell said.
While Bell was unpacking boxes, Coste was sitting at his locker again, soaking up every minute in the Phillies clubhouse.
"It really is amazing to be here in this position," said Coste, who hit .463 in Spring Training. "If I make the team, it will make all those years well worth it. I can talk about all the bus rides, the buses that broke down, the long doubleheaders and really long road trips. Starting this season as a Phillie would be a dream come true.
"Some people can say that; I say that and mean that. I'm just trying to enjoy every minute and hope it continues."
Center of attention: Some players would not want to talk about a 36-game hitting streak. But Jimmy Rollins doesn't mind at all.
Rollins held a press conference after the Phillies' 9-5 victory over the Red Sox on Saturday to talk about the streak.
"It's fun to talk about," Rollins said. "It's brought a lot of attention over to the team, which is probably the best part. ... People are writing about the Phillies, and maybe that has something to do with it."
Rollins was in Las Vegas in the offseason, and that was when he truly understood how important the streak had become nationally.
"That was probably the most surprised I've been about someone addressing it," Rollins said. "It was eight in the morning ... my eyes weren't open yet, to tell the truth. The first thing [the limo driver] said was, 'You know, they're going to come after you, man.' I'm expecting, 'Good morning' or 'Oh, are you Mr. Rollins?' or 'Jimmy.' It was straight up, 'They're going to come after you.' So I looked at him crazy, scratching my head -- 'This guy is crazy. What is he talking about?'
"I looked at him, and he repeated it and I was giving that blank look -- 'I have no idea what you're talking about.' He said, 'The streak.' I was like, 'Oh, yeah, sure.'"
One of Rollins' newest teammates said the shortstop has shown an incredible amount of poise.
"Jimmy just seems to have a way of not putting extra pressure on himself," said center fielder Aaron Rowand. "He's having fun, and that's a great way to approach the streak."
Another look at the wall: For the second straight day, Phillies president David Montgomery spent a long time in the left-field corner of the ballpark. Again, Montgomery insisted there's nothing to worry about with the fence, which was raised 2 1/2 feet and pushed back five feet in the offseason.
Left fielder Pat Burrell said the new dimensions will not be an issue.
"It's really not all that different," Burrell said. "There may be a carom or two off the wall, but it's not all that different."
Role player: When Ryan Franklin signed a one-year, $2.6 million contract in the offseason, he expected to become one of the Phillies' starting pitchers. After a solid Spring Training by Gavin Floyd, Franklin will begin the season in a relief role.
"I want to start, obviously," Franklin said. "I'm willing to do what it takes to help the team. It's a long season and a lot can happen."
Manuel believes the 33-year-old Franklin will contribute in a big way.
"Ryan has a rubber arm, and I can put him out there for extended innings," Manuel said. "I think Ryan's attitude has been great. We've talked a lot about it, and he's doing well. I'm very pleased with his attitude. He's a competitor and he wants to play and start -- I understand that. I wouldn't want him to feel differently than that."
Howard's beginning: Ryan Howard set the Phillies' all-time Spring Training record with 10 home runs. The previous mark of nine was set by Dick Allen in 1964.
"Nothing Ryan does surprises me," Manuel said. "What's great about Ryan, aside from his attitude, is he's only going to get better. He has so much potential that it's scary. This young man is going to play and succeed in this league for a very long time."
Paint the town red: The Phillies continued their week-long celebration called "Paint The Town Red." On Thursday, more than $3,800 was raised for the Variety Club on Red Alert! Day. A Red Alert! newspaper printed by the Daily News was sold throughout Center City. The Red Alert! also was on sale on Saturday at Citizens Bank Park.
Quotable: "I think everyone is on the same page. Everyone gets along and everyone has one goal in mind -- and that's playoff baseball." -- catcher Mike Lieberthal
Next up: The Phillies will host the Red Sox on Sunday at 12:35 p.m. ET. Right-hander Ryan Madson will start against Boston's Matt Clement.
Andy Jasner is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.