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PHILADELPHIA -- J.C. Romero and Jose Mesa have saved the Phillies' bullpen.
No, that's not a typo. The pair of veterans have helped stabilize a bullpen in flux, and are just as responsible as the rest of the relief corps for the Phillies remaining relevant in the National League East and Wild Card races.
Designated for assignment by Boston and Detroit, respectively, earlier this season, Romero and Mesa have been finds for the Phillies, who claimed them off waivers.
"Both came here with a good mind-set that they were going to get to pitch," manager Charlie Manuel said. "They've done a real good job for us."
Entering Sunday night's game against Atlanta, Romero had logged 13 2/3 innings in 20 appearances with Philadelphia, allowing just six hits. He's walked 14, but has only been scored on in two of his outings. In 24 games, Mesa has posted a 2.52 ERA in 25 innings. He's allowed just 16 hits and 11 walks, while striking out 10. He has been scored on in six of those outings.
What were their former employers missing?
"Everything happens for a reason," Romero said. "Jose and I came from bullpens that were stacked with a lot of arms, so we were expendable. We came to a team in need of arms. Life is about opportunities and taking advantage of them. I'm blessed with the opportunity I've gotten here."
Though disappointed that things didn't work out in Boston, Romero said his maturity helped him overcome it.
"You have to take as just one step in your career," he said. "You move on. If that would have happened when I was 20, there might have been a suicide note, but I've been around a lot longer now and I'm more mature. There are more important things in life than being designated for assignment by a team."
Mesa made his 1,006th career appearance to pass Mike Jackson for ninth on the all-time list -- Lee Smith is next at 1,022 -- and is showing few signs of slowing down. He said when he
returned that he felt better with more work, something Manuel has provided for him.
The 41-year-old Mesa struck out the side in the fifth inning on Saturday, and hit 95 mph a few times.
"That was my changeup," he said, with a laugh. "I still think I have a lot left. That's why I still wanted to pitch. They gave me the opportunity to come back and do my thing."
Eaton still in the rotation?
Manuel said he hasn't decided whether Adam Eaton will take his next turn in the rotation, scheduled for Friday against Pittsburgh. The right-hander has a 7.96 ERA in his previous 10 outings.
His 6.36 overall ERA is the worst in the National League.
"I haven't made up my mind. I have time," Manuel said.
Despite an off-day on Monday, Manuel said he likely won't skip Eaton's turn, either, due to concerns about the inning totals of Cole Hamels, Jamie Moyer and rookie Kyle Kendrick.
"Hamels hasn't pitched a full season in the big leagues, and Kendrick's never been into September, and Jamie, when we get a off-day, I want to give him as much rest as possible," Manuel said. "We'll go over some things and find what's best for our club."
Shane Victorino (strained right calf), will begin a minor-league rehab assignment Tuesday with Double-A Reading. The plan is for him to play Wednesday and Thursday, then rejoin the Phillies in Pittsburgh on Friday. ... Chase Utley will have his broken right hand re-examined on Monday, and could be cleared to grip a bat. ... RHP Scott Mathieson will begin a rehab assignment Monday with the Gulf Coast League Phillies. ... Before Sunday's game, the Phillies honored umpire Bruce Froemming, who is retiring after the season following 36 years on the job. The longest tenured umpire in Major League history, Froemming umpired his 5,170th game on Sunday, second to Bill Klemm's 5,368 games. He has worked three All-Star Games, eight Division Series, 10 League Championship Series and five World Series.
Kyle Lohse, who opposes the Nationals' Shawn Hill in Tuesday's series opener at 7:05 p.m. ET in Washington, won his first game as a Phillie when he beat the Marlins on Wednesday.
Lohse, who gave up four runs on six hits in 6 1/3 innings, said his arm was a little stiff from being hit by a line drive in his Aug. 2 start against the Cubs, but that the sweltering heat helped him warm up quickly. Lohse faced Washington earlier this season, while with Cincinnati, yielding six runs in 4 2/3 innings.