05/29/10 12:27 AM ET
Lidge hopes Saturday marks last rehab outing
By Alden Gonzalez / MLB.com
Lidge -- on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 10 because of elbow inflammation, but coming off a positive bullpen session -- will make a rehab appearance on Saturday for Class A Clearwater, and he is confident he'll be ready to rejoin the Phillies at the start of next week.
Lidge called a Monday return "very possible" -- if all goes well on Saturday, of course.
"I'm hoping just one [rehab appearance]," said Lidge, who's given up a run in 3 1/3 innings this year. "Obviously, if I feel good in the outing and stuff is coming out of my hand the way it needs to be to get guys out in the big leagues, we'll be good."
Lidge, who will be coming out of the bullpen in that game, said he was able to throw all of his pitches "aggressively" during Thursday's 40-pitch side session, and he feels his stuff is "pretty close to where it needs to be."
Manuel not worried, but tweaks Phils' lineup
MIAMI -- Slump? You call what several of Charlie Manuel's players are currently riding a slump? The reminiscent Phillies skipper has something to say about that.
"People call slumps 0-for-10, 0-for-20. [Shoot], that ain't no slump," Manuel said. "Take off on an 0-for-54 [slump]. I did that one time."
Manuel was speaking about a nightmarish stretch during his Minor League days. But this was different. This wasn't one player slumping badly. This was an entire team -- a great hitting team -- collectively being shut out in three consecutive contests and being one bad Friday night away from tying a Major League record.
So when Manuel was asked if a club being shut out in four out of five games -- heading into an eventual 3-2 win -- was significant enough to be called a slump, the 66-year-old former hitting coach took a sip of his black coffee, unveiled a grin and said, "It's not good."
Not good at all. But despite a five-game losing streak filled with ineptitude at the plate, Manuel had the vibe of a positive man when he shook up the lineup prior to the start of a three-game series against the Marlins.
"Try to find the best way to look at it," Manuel said despite steering a club that hadn't scored a run in 46 of 47 innings heading into the series opener. "I guess the best way to look at it is, that's a loss. Don't make anything more out of that. You have to stay positive, man."
Jayson Werth took the night off and was replaced by Ross Gload because Manuel believes he's "starting to press a little bit." Placido Polanco sat -- and was replaced by Greg Dobbs -- because he's still feeling the effects of a left elbow injury sustained from an April 21 hit-by-pitch, and Wilson Valdez was in the No. 2 spot behind Shane Victorino because of his ability to bunt and hit and run.
The Phillies -- the National League leaders in runs scored since they began their run of three consecutive NL East championships in 2007 -- haven't been shut out in four out of five games since 1974. And if they had been blanked again, they would've tied eight other clubs for the Major League record for consecutive shutouts since 1920.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, dating back to 1876, only two other teams swept three or more games from a first-place team without allowing any runs: the Orioles over the Red Sox in 1974, and the Washington Senators over the Philadelphia A's in 1913.
In their previous five games, the Phillies hit a combined .186 and went gone 5-for-34 with runners in scoring position.
"There's always a sense of urgency, but at the same time, it's not going to be fueled by fear or panic, and it's not going to be in this clubhouse," said outfielder Raul Ibanez, who's actually batting .333 in his past eight games, including a 1-for-4 effort on Friday. "We know that we're a great team, and we know we're going to hit."
Sore elbow keeps Phillies' Polanco out
MIAMI -- Phillies manager Charlie Manuel kept third baseman Placido Polanco out of the lineup for the start of a three-game series against the Marlins on Friday. But it had nothing to do with any slumps at the plate.
Polanco -- who's 5-for-12 (a .417 batting average) his past three games -- is still feeling the effects of a sore left elbow that dates back to April 21, when he was hit by a fastball from the Braves' Tim Hudson in the first inning.
Polanco said he'll get the elbow looked at before Saturday's game and wasn't sure if he'd play in that contest when asked after Friday's 3-2 victory.
"He's got a little softness in his elbow," Manuel said. "He's had it ever since he got hit with the ball about a month ago. The other night when he jumped and caught the ball, and sometimes when he swings and things like that, it hurts him, and it hurts him bad. Some days it feels pretty good, but at the same time, he still feels it when he's hitting. And he's been trying to play."
Contreras battling inactivity as Phils' closer
MIAMI -- Phillies closer Jose Contreras was asked when the last time he pitched in a game was, and when he realized the start of a three-game series against the Marlins fell on a Friday, he couldn't believe it had been more than a week.
That brought up another product of a slumping team: an inactive closer.
The Phillies came into Friday losers of five consecutive games. And when the ninth inning rolled around with the Phils holding a 3-2 lead, Contreras was called upon for the save. Despite not having appeared in a game since May 20, he got the job done, overcoming a pair of singles.
The 39-year-old Contreras -- a starter for most of his previous seven years in the big leagues -- is still making the transition to the back end of the bullpen, and now he's trying to cope with the inconsistent workload of a closer.
The veteran has an 0.59 ERA and is 3-for-3 in saves in 17 games.
"It's hard," Contreras said in Spanish prior to the game. "But you just have to keep working in between games, so that when they call you, just be ready. ... [On Wednesday], I threw a bullpen [session], and every day I throw, looking to stay sharp, so that when another opportunity comes up, I can do my best to help out the team."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.