04/01/12 7:15 PM ET
Manuel: Phils still team to beat in NL East
By Paul Hagen / MLB.com
"I think until somebody beats us, we're the team to beat. That's what I think," Manuel said before the Phillies and Braves tied, 7-7, in Philadelphia's Grapefruit League finale at Champion Stadium on Sunday. "We ain't going to lay down for anybody. We've got a bunch of guys that like to play. You can smack us. We're not going to turn the other cheek. We're going to fight you back. We ain't going to lay down and die. We've got some guys on our team that are going to make sure of that."
He's aware that some have begun to wonder if the Phillies are vulnerable because of injuries or if success has made them complacent.
"You can say whatever you want to say. It's up to us to make sure we handle our business. As a matter of fact, I like it when they talk a lot about us, really. That definitely might have something to do with motivating us, too."
Noting that players like Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Jim Thome came to the Phillies primarily to try to win the World Series that has so far eluded them, he added:
"I think some of the guys we've had definitely have that. I think that's why we keep winning. But at the same time, the thing you have to be careful of, the pieces you add, when you add a whole lot, you have to remember some of those guys haven't been used to winning. A winning player is different than a guy who has always been in the second division, and they've got to come into the fold, too. Sometimes that takes a little while."
Speed will help Phils make up for injured stars
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Charlie Manuel is in his 50th year of professional baseball. The Phillies manager doesn't need his half-century of experience to realize that his team can't sit back and wait for the long ball this season.
After leading the league in home runs in 2008 and '09, the Phils were ranked fifth in 2010 and eighth last season. Oh, yes, and No. 3 and 4 hitters -- Chase Utley and Ryan Howard -- will open the season on the disabled list with no definite timetable for their return.
Manuel remains confident that the Phillies will be able to generate sufficient offense to compete for a sixth straight National League East title, though. They're just going to have to go about it differently.
"I think our guys with running speed can bring a lot to the table now that we've got our third and fourth hitter out of the lineup. I think we've got to play that way. I think we've got to score our runs we're supposed to score. Less than two outs, man on third, we've got to score those runs. We've got to move the guy from second with nobody out. We've got to play that way. But at the same time, we have the potential with Utley and Howard out, still to score some runs. And I think that we can."
Left fielder Juan Pierre led off Sunday's Grapefruit League finale against the Braves at Champion Stadium. He stole 68 bases for the White Sox in 2010, but just 27 last year. Shane Victorino swiped 19 last year, after having 34 the previous season, while Rollins had 47 steals as recently as 2008 but had only 30 last season.
Victorino and Rollins have been hampered by leg injuries in recent seasons, but Manuel has talked to them about being more aggressive.
"First of all, I don't think they've ever had a broken leg," said Manuel. "I think their problems have been hamstrings and tightness, and groins and pulled muscles, things like that. I think, in time, those are wounds that heal. I think that they've still got the talent to steal bases and things. It's just a matter of us using their speed and them getting on base a lot."
Bastardo held out on Sunday
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Antonio Bastardo, written in as the No. 1 lefty reliever, ended the Florida portion of Spring Training without pitching on back-to-back days, even though there had been tentative plans for him to do that over the weekend.
Pitching coach Rich Dubee said there is nothing physically wrong with Bastardo. "I really didn't want to pitch him in the warmer weather. I wanted to pitch him in the colder weather. Just to see how he responds. Get him in the cold weather. We're going to be in cold weather, probably. Give him a shot up there instead of see him throw [on Sunday] and then maybe not have him up there."
The Phillies' final two exhibition games are Monday and Tuesday against the Pirates at Citizens Bank Park.
"There's nothing wrong. I think I got enough work," Bastardo said.
Dubee insisted there was no particular reason why Bastardo didn't work on consecutive days. "Time was limited. He went home to the Dominican [for family reasons] for three days, and then we got him back and his arm was a little cranky. He'll be all right," he said with a shrug.
In his last outing, Bastardo pitched a perfect 1 1/3 innings against the Yankees on Friday.
Savery has interesting frame on Sunday
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Joe Savery, who appears to be competing with Raul Valdes to become the second lefty in the Phillies' bullpen, had an interesting fifth inning on Sunday against the Braves.
He loaded the bases with nobody out, then stranded all three runners. Pitching coach Rich Dubee said both parts of the performance will be considered when final decisions are made.
"We'll look at both," said Dubee. "What he did to get into the jam, and why he got out. Try to get him to understand that getting out of it was good. But avoid getting in it by the right approach."
Savery gave up a leadoff single to Martin Prado, then walked Michael Bourn and Tyler Pastornicky with a fastball that topped out at 90 mph. After Dubee visited the mound, the velocity jumped to 92 or 93 mph.
"You throw a few balls and you start getting a little careful with things," said Savery. "And [Dubee] came out there and he said, 'Hey, you've got to let it fly.' And he was dead on. I was babying things. So I just had to let it fly and let the results happen."
Dubee's take: "When you don't give yourself a chance and then all of a sudden I see 92, 93 up there when I'd been seeing 88, 89, 90, I've got questions on whether he's committed to the pitch. And that's what we've got to get to. Be aggressive and be committed to your stuff."
Savery then got Brian McCann and Dan Uggla to pop up and Freddie Freeman to ground out to end the inning.
Whether or not Savery makes the Opening Day roster, he's still an interesting story. A year ago the former No. 1 Draft choice from Rice was trying to hang on as a hitter. Now, he's still in the running to make the team out of Spring Training.
"I have to try to remember that I was on my way out of baseball about a year ago. And to be here still with these guys, whether I make it or not, is a giant leap forward. I need to be thankful for that," Savery said.
Freddy Galvis, the 22-year-old shortstop who was moved to second base this spring to fill in for the injured Utley, started a flashy double play on Sunday. He scooped up a grounder by Brian McCann behind the bag and relayed the ball to Rollins covering with a behind-the-back flip.
Manuel on Victorino going into a contract season: "This is a good time for him to shine. If you're ever going to shine, if you like the money and stuff like that, it seems like this would be the right time. That's all I got to say."
Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.