09/02/12 5:22 PM ET
Brown could return to lineup before end of trip
By Todd Zolecki / MLB.com
Manager Charlie Manuel said before the finale against the Braves that he expects Brown to start before the end of the road trip. The Phillies open a three-game series against the Reds on Monday afternoon. The trip ends Wednesday.
Brown has started just once since Aug. 24.
"We're trying to get him ready so he can play," Manuel said. "We don't want him to play when he's hurt. We want to look at him. We want to see him. We're looking for a big corner guy in our outfield. We're looking for run producers."
Callups De Fratus, Diekman bolster bullpen
ATLANTA -- Manager Charlie Manuel certainly has a plethora of options in his bullpen the final month of the season.
The Phillies recalled right-hander Justin De Fratus and left-hander Jake Diekman before Sunday's series finale against the Braves at Turner Field. De Fratus spent most of the season on the disabled list with a strained right flexor pronator tendon. Diekman went 1-1 with a 4.64 ERA in 23 appearances with the Phillies before being sent to Triple-A Lehigh Valley on July 31 to improve his consistency, particularly with throwing strikes.
"I'm so excited to be back here, man," De Fratus said. "The way the year started, I feel very blessed to be back here. That's for sure."
De Fratus went 0-1 with a 2.49 ERA in 17 appearances for Lehigh Valley. He allowed 15 hits, six runs and three walks while striking out 22 in 21 2/3 innings. He had an impressive 7.33 strikeout-to-walk ratio, which could put him in the bullpen next season if he can replicate that success in the big leagues.
De Fratus joins a group of inexperienced pitchers that includes Diekman, Phillippe Aumont, B.J. Rosenberg, Jeremy Horst, Josh Lindblom and Raul Valdes.
Manuel spoke Sunday about the two pitchers in the bullpen with the most potential because of their power arms: Aumont and Diekman. Both have had trouble throwing strikes. Aumont walked 6.9 batters per nine innings this season with Lehigh Valley, and has walked two in three innings with the Phillies. Diekman walked 6.3 batters per nine innings with the Phillies. In 12 appearances since his demotion, Diekman allowed 10 walks and struck out 15 in 11 1/3 innings.
If Aumont and Diekman can find the strike zone more consistently, they could be fixtures in the bullpen for years.
Diekman tried to work on that in Lehigh Valley, working with IronPigs pitching coach Rod Nichols on improving his mechanics.
"I feel really good with where everything is right now," Diekman said. "I've just got to keep on it. I attack the zone a lot more. Getting up on hitters [in the count]. That was the biggest thing down there."
Braves right-hander Tim Hudson walked Cliff Lee with the bases loaded Saturday. It was the first time Hudson had walked a pitcher with the bases loaded, according to Elias Sports Bureau.
Lee joined Bronson Arroyo, Jason Marquis, Randy Wolf and Carlos Zambrano as the only active pitchers to have homered, stolen a base and drawn a bases-loaded walk.
Jimmy Rollins entered Sunday needing just four hits for 2,000 in his career.
Entering Sunday, Phillies starters had a 3.48 ERA since the All-Star break, the second-best mark in the National League. Only the Nationals (3.40 ERA) have been better.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.