08/20/12 11:57 PM ET
Phils go ahead with Pence bobblehead giveaway
By Jake Kaplan / MLB.com
But when the first half of the Phillies' season played out as it did, and the club traded Pence to the Giants just before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, the Phillies' events team was presented with a unique situation.
All fans attending Tuesday night's game against the Reds will receive a Liberty Mutual Insurance Hunter Pence Bobble Figurine. It features a smiling Pence, sporting Philadelphia's alternative home uniform, with his leg in the air just about to swing a bat.
It's the first time multiple longtime Phillies employees remember having a giveaway for a recently traded player. There wasn't much that could be done once the situation presented itself.
"We talked [after the Trade Deadline], and we spoke with Liberty Mutual, who's the sponsor, and we pretty much decided that, 'You know, we should still do this,'" said Scott Brandreth, the Phillies' director of merchandising. "I don't think it was really that difficult of a decision. Bobble heads are a pretty popular promotion and they're a collectible item. This one just might be a little bit more collectible now that it's got a little unique story to it."
The Phillies give away two bobbleheads per season, one early in the year (a Cliff Lee figurine) and one in the latter portion of the season. The figurines are planned out at least four months in advance, Brandreth said, so the club did not have the option of making a last-minute switch to another player. The club could have changed the promotion altogether, but that presents another quandary.
"I guess there's a little, 'What are you going to do with 45,000 bobbleheads?' That certainly crossed your mind," Brandreth said. "There were a few different scenarios we discussed. But we felt that, 'You know what? It's a popular item, and it was a popular player and we assume that there were a decent amount of people that bought tickets for it. So lets do it.'"
Though this situation is foreign to this organization, it is not unprecedented. Brandreth reached out to others around the Majors, asking if anything like this had happened before. Multiple clubs, including the Indians and the Twins, responded that they had similar situations arise.
The Phillies' public relations department also reached out to Pence, whom Brandreth said was fine with the club going ahead with Tuesday's promotion.
"Hunter is happy that we're giving it away. He's aware of it," Brandreth said. "It was only a year of his career, but he had a pretty good year. He was a big part of the 102 wins last year. So he was on board with it as well."
Ruiz feels good after taking swings in cage
PHILADELPHIA -- For the first time since going on the disabled list, Carlos Ruiz took a few swings in the batting cage on Monday afternoon. Afterward, the Phillies All-Star catcher said that he felt good.
It's a step in the right direction for Ruiz, who has been on the DL with plantar fasciitis in his left foot since Aug. 4. The original diagnosis was that he would be sidelined four to six weeks, meaning he would return in early to mid-September.
No longer wearing a protective boot, Ruiz said he also performed some leg exercises on Monday. He's also been able to work on his upper body and core.
Ruiz said he hopes to take batting practice on the field on Wednesday, then start running and doing more baseball activities next Tuesday. He said he was not sure of a timetable to start a rehab assignment.
With a .335 average, 14 home runs and 58 RBIs, Ruiz was having a career year and was the team's MVP in 2011.
"I want to come back real bad. I want to finish the season like healthy, you know," he said. "I'm happy now because I feel real good, and I feel like I'm close."
Horst on paternity leave; Aumont called up
PHILADELPHIA -- It appears Phillippe Aumont will finally get to make his Major League debut.
The highly touted pitching prospect was promoted from Triple-A Lehigh Valley following Monday's 12-5 win over the Reds, as Phillies left-hander Jeremy Horst was placed on the paternity leave list.
Players on paternity leave have 24 to 72 hours to rejoin the club.
Aumont, the 11th overall pick of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft, was acquired in the December 2009 trade that sent Cliff Lee to the Mariners. A 6-foot-7, 260-pound reliever with a Major League-ready fastball and curveball, Aumont is ranked as the seventh-best prospect in the organization by MLB.com's Prospect Watch.
In 41 games for the IronPigs this season, Aumont was 3-1 with a 4.26 ERA. Likely the biggest reason he was in Triple-A was a lack of consistency with his command, as he's recorded 59 strikeouts, but also 34 walks.
If he's optioned once Horst returns to the Phillies, it's likely Aumont would be recalled when the rosters expand in September.
Cole Hamels was named the National League's Player of the Week on Monday. The All-Star left-hander won both of his starts last week, including a shutout of the Marlins on Monday. Overall, he allowed just three runs over 16 2/3 innings, striking out 15 and walking just two.
Manager Charlie Manuel said he still views left-hander Antonio Bastardo as an eighth-inning option. Bastardo has not pitched since Aug. 8, when he allowed three runs in two-thirds of an innings against the Braves. Manuel said Bastardo is healthy and attributed Bastardo's lack of recent work to matchups and left-hander Jeremy Horst, who has pitched well out of the bullpen.
"There's no way that we will give up on Bastardo," Manuel said. "We want to get him going."
With the Reds in town for the first time this season, Monday marked the return of Wilson Valdez. A Phillies' utility infielder from 2010-11, Valdez was traded for Horst in January. In 55 games with Cincinnati, Valdez is hitting .205 with 12 runs and 12 RBIs after hitting .254 over his two seasons in Philadelphia.
He famously earned a win after pitching an inning of a 19-inning game last May against the Reds.
Left fielder Juan Pierre entered Monday's game, which he started, one steal from his 11th season with at least 30 stolen bases. After hitting a double in the first ininng, he stole third base, placing him in a six-way tie with Honus Wagner, Ozzie Smith, Bert Campaneris, Otis Nixon and Willie Wilson for the eighth-most 30-steal seasons in baseball history.
Jimmy Rollins was honored before the game for breaking Larry Bowa's record for most games played by a Phillies shortstop.
The Phillies and Reds will wear retro uniforms on Wednesday night. The Phillies will wear the burgundy uniforms they sported during the 1990-91 seasons. Keeping up with the '90s theme, the Wolf Pack, the fan group for former Phillie Randy Wolf, will be in attendance to cheer on the current Phils' pitchers.
Jake Kaplan is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.