© 2007 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.
07/04/07 8:15 PM ET
Notes: What about instant replay?
Phils left to ponder merits after call that went against them
By Ken Mandel / MLB.com
HOUSTON -- Allowing for the possibility that his eyes may have betrayed him, manager Charlie Manuel said this Tuesday during his argument with first-base umpire Lance Barksdale: "I told him, 'I'll look at the replay, and if I'm wrong, I'll come back and apologize to you,'" Manuel said. "'But if you're wrong, you apologize to me.' He said, 'I can't do you any favors.' I don't need you to, just get it right." After watching the replay multiple times, Manuel won't be saying he's sorry, no matter how many times he sees Carlos Lee's foot touch the base well after Chase Utley's relay throw reached Ryan Howard. "Like this," Manuel said, extending his arms about a foot-and-a-half apart to show how far the throw beat Lee by. Though it won't change Philadelphia's win-loss record, Manuel said he received Barksdale's mea culpa when making a double switch in eighth inning. "He said he had to apologize because [of what I told him last night]," Manuel said. "I told him, 'Even I made a mistake one day.' He didn't miss it on purpose, but he missed it." Such missed calls -- remember Howard's home run that wasn't in Houston last September, and Utley's homer off the foul pole in Washington later that month that the umpires missed? -- often spur discussions of instant replay, and that was the hot topic as the Phillies prepared to finish their series with the Astros on Wednesday. Howard said he was in favor of replay when it's a potential game-changing play, such as Tuesday, and many of his teammates agreed, though they would prefer the umpire get it right in the first place. While still miffed, Manuel said it's part of the game's human element. "We seem to get our share of those, where we're on the short end of the stick," Manuel said, referencing the Utley game. "But I look at the game, and it's been going for this long. If we keep messing with the game, we'll have five-, six-hour games." Ironically, a reversed call would've shortened last night's four-hour, 23-minute contest. "I still question that call in the New England/Oakland game [in the 2001 AFC Championship Game]," Manuel said. "Don't tell me that was a forward pass. I think they changed the rule for that play. It doesn't necessarily mean that instant replay gets it right all the time." Unappealing: Dropping his appeal of a one-game suspension suddenly seemed appealing to Carlos Ruiz. Hobbled by a muscle injury above his right knee -- originally suffered against the Reds -- aggravated in Tuesday's game, the catcher was given Thursday off and chose to serve his one-game suspension for allegedly bumping an umpire in a June 17 loss vs. Detroit. "I hope to come back very soon," Ruiz said. "Maybe Saturday or Sunday." Ruiz said his leg felt tight when he was trying to score on a bloop by Michael Bourn in the ninth inning Tuesday, then he really felt something trying to beat out a grounder in the 11th. Because the Phillies had no other catchers, Ruiz gutted it out. Powerful: Wes Helms knows he hasn't provided the power that has been expected of him, but maybe that's about to change. The corner infielder produced a second straight three-hit game in Wednesday's 8-3 win over Houston, including his third homer of the season. For Helms, that equals a power surge, considering those homers came in his last 33 at-bats. Helms had zero homers in his first 151 at-bats before connecting June 13 against the White Sox. "It was tough," he said. "You always want to do good. As a player, you know it's a matter of time until it would come. Working hard every day, I knew I'd find it eventually. It's not so much hitting the ball out of the park; it's the doubles and driving in guys with two outs. That's what I want to do. Hopefully, we can make the playoffs and I'm a big part of the second half." Helms said the secret has come in a quicker swing that includes using his hands and wrists more. "I feel like I'm using my hands more and trying to take the body out of it," he said. "I went through a stretch there where the body was coming first, and hopefully, we're where we need to be." Just not there: Anywhere else. That's where Howard needed his fly ball Tuesday to go for him to register a home run on a ball he hit 434 feet. Instead, center fielder Hunter Pence tracked up the hill in the deepest part of Minute Maid Park and caught the drive just next to the flag pole. "After I caught it, I was like, "Did that really just happen?'" Pence said. "He hit that ball to the roof, to the farthest part of any ballpark, and fortunately I found it again because I lost it for a second and happened to get under it. Ryan Howard's got silly strength. To hit a ball that far is unheard of. " Not really. Bench coach Jimy Williams remembered two such occasions while he was managing the Astros. On Aug. 28, 2003, then-Dodgers center fielder Dave Roberts pursued a ball on the hill to steal at least a triple from Lance Berkman, and on July 1, 2003, then-Milwaukee first baseman Richie Sexson tripled off that flag pole. Howard's ball reminded Williams of that shot by Sexson. "[Pence] catches it right next to the pole," Williams said. "If that ball is a foot and a half farther, he doesn't catch it. But ifs and buts and candy and nuts ... I thought about that Sexson ball. Most of the time, when [outfielders] go up that hill, they fall down, but it was hit deep enough to where all he had to do was go back for it. It was hit high enough." Philling in: Outfielder Jayson Werth (sprained left wrist) took some swings Sunday and said he plans to play rehab games for Class-A Clearwater during the All-Star break. He hopes to activated on July 14, the Phillies' second game after the break. ... Outfielder Aaron Rowand (bruised right thumb) didn't start for the second straight game. He was supposed to have Tuesday off, but entered the game in the eighth inning and played through the 13th. ... The food area of the visitors' clubhouse roared during Wednesday's hot dog eating contest, when American Joey Chestnut knocked off six-time titlist Takeru Kobayashi. Chestnut broke his own world record by inhaling 66 hot dogs in 12 minutes -- a staggering one every 10.9 seconds. ... Shane Victorino has stolen 25 consecutive bases without being caught, the longest current streak in the Majors. Coming up: After Thursday's off-day, Kyle Kendrick (3-0, 4.38 ERA) gets the start as the Phillies open a series at Coors Field at 9:05 p.m. ET on Friday against Jeff Francis (8-5, 3.56 ERA).
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.