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WASHINGTON -- Searching through his locker for his misplaced warmup jersey, Adam Eaton looked up, quizzically.
"Uh oh," he said, with a laugh. "Am I still on the team?"
The Phillies right-hander is, though when he'll pitch next is another matter. Manager Charlie Manuel said he hoped to decide on a starting pitcher for Friday's game against the Pirates by Wednesday. It has likely come down to Eaton or J.D. Durbin. Manuel said earlier this week that he wasn't likely to skip Eaton's turn because that would put more innings on Jamie Moyer and Cole Hamels.
Eaton's spate of subpar starts has brought the Phillies to this difficult choice. He has a 7.98 ERA in his past 10 starts since June 23, with just one quality outing. He hasn't reached the fifth inning in his past two starts.
"We're definitely concerned about Adam," Manuel said. "We want to give our team every chance to win. That's kind of where I'm at as far as thinking."
The call is whether Eaton is better off working out his problems in the bullpen or the rotation, where he has compiled a National League-high 6.39 ERA.
While Manuel didn't offer a definitive answer, his words seemed to suggest where he was leaning. With hitters, he'll often sit a guy when things are going bad, allowing him to clear his head.
"When we've got guys that aren't hitting, I take them out and sit them down and give them two or three days off," Manuel said. "If there's a mental problem or a physical problem, I give them time to think about it, give them time to see if they can get better focused or relaxed. A pitcher, when he struggles, it's kind of like a hitter not hitting."
Should Eaton make the start, he said the knowledge that he's likely on a short leash won't add to the pressure.
"This game has enough pressure," he said. "You don't need to add anything more, that's for sure. Obviously, the last few starts I haven't pitched very well. We're getting to the time of year where the importance of each win is magnified. Obviously now it's time to do [it].
"I'll take it as another big league start. They brought me here for a reason -- to pitch -- and they believe that I can pitch with what they've given me, contract-wise. I haven't pitched to my capabilities this year, but I'm not going to go out and say, 'I have to win this game.' I might lose, 1-0, on an unearned run, and I don't think they would send me out [to the bullpen]. If you win the game, you win the game. But obviously the last few games, it hasn't gone very
Chase Utley can't stay off the field for too long, so the injured second baseman was running and working out with teammates before Tuesday's game against Washington.
The All-Star second baseman had his broken right hand X-rayed on Monday and had it placed in a removable splint.
"It looks good," Utley said. "They said it's healing outstanding. They put me in this device so I can start throwing. They still want me to hold off on gripping a bat a little bit longer, just to have it heal a little bit more."
Utley hopes that he can begin hitting something after his next appointment, scheduled for Monday. If so, it shouldn't be long before he heads for a short rehab assignment. He said he "absolutely" expected to return to the Phillies by the end of August.
Vegtastic: Not only does Citizens Bank Park have cheese steaks from Tony Luke's and pulled pork sandwiches from Bull's Barbecue, but vegetarians have also found it heavenly.
The 4-year-old park was named the "Most Vegetarian-Friendly Ballpark in North America" by P.E.T.A. (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals).
According to its Web site at www.goveg.com
, "Animal-friendly baseball fans can eat themselves silly in the City of Brotherly Love, enjoying the league's best selection of mock
meats. A vegan hot dog and flame-grilled Gardenburger were added in past seasons, and now Citizens Bank Park is offering a genuine Philly mock-steak sandwich that's getting rave reviews for its great taste -- and it has none of the cholesterol of "the original" to boot!"
The rest of the top 10: AT&T Park (Giants), Safeco Field (Mariners), PETCO Park (Padres), Busch Stadium (Cardinals), Coors Field (Rockies), Rogers Centre (Blue Jays), Dolphin Stadium (Marlins), McAfee Coliseum (A's), Minute Maid Park (Astros) and Chase Field (Diamondbacks).
Citizens Bank Park also won the Food Network's "2007 Best Ballpark Eats Award."
Kyle Kendrick, who opposes the Nationals' Tim Redding on Wednesday at 7:05 p.m. ET at RFK Stadium, continues to shine in his rookie campaign. He's coming off a another stellar outing on Thursday, holding the Marlins to just two runs. Kendrick earned a no-decision while posting his third straight quality start. He allowed the Nationals three runs in 5 2/3 innings the first time he faced them this season.