7/9/2013 7:50 P.M. ET
Papelbon grinding through rocky stretch
By Todd Zolecki / MLB.com
PHILADELPHIA -- Jonathan Papelbon has caused some stressful moments for Phillies fans the past few weeks.
The closer is 2-0 with a 4.09 ERA and four blown saves in 10 opportunities since June 14.
"I see, sometimes, his stuff in the stretch has been down a little bit, as far as his fastball at times," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "Last night, I felt like his fastball was pretty good. The last two, three times out, he's been getting more on top of it.
"Let me tell you something, Papelbon, you go through some times when you're going to give up some runs and things like that. People are quick to see that, but at the same time that's all part of it. That's all part of the run. …. Papelbon, to me, he's one of the premier closers in our league, if not the best."
Manuel not pushing any specific Deadline agenda
PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies' front office met Tuesday to talk about the state of the team and the upcoming July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.
In seasons past, manager Charlie Manuel spoke publicly about his desires for the 25-man roster, saying things like, "I just don't want a bat. I want a good bat. I want a difference maker."
But this year, Manuel has not said much of anything.
"Maybe I got tired of coming out," he said. "I'd like to see us improve our team any way we possibly can. Really. That's what I like. Right now, I do understand we need some wins. I see we've got 72 more games to play. I know exactly where we're at. Let's see if we can get into a better position. Let's see if we can win some of these games and get into a better position when we come back and start the second half.
"I don't ever think of selling because I think of winning. That's my job. I come to the ballpark and I want you to be the best you possibly can be. At the same time, I understand everything about what happens. That's part of it. That's the business part of it."
But it is surprising to see Manuel be bit of a wallflower, isn't it?
"Sometimes I guess it's OK to be a wallflower," he said. "You get to see everything."
Aumont optioned to work on mechanics, approach
PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies had high expectations for Phillippe Aumont this season.
They believed he could be a dominant middle reliever with closer potential. But the Phillies could not continue to wait for that potential to translate into success on the mound, which is why they optioned him to Triple-A Lehigh Valley on Tuesday.
The Phillies selected the contract of right-hander Luis Garcia to take Aumont's place on the roster. To make room for Garcia on the 40-man roster, the club transferred reliever Mike Adams on the 60-day disabled list. Garcia, 26, was 2-2 with a 1.67 ERA in 31 appearances this season with Class A Clearwater, Double-A Reading and Lehigh Valley. He made nine appearances last season with the independent league Newark Bears.
"Consistency is a big factor, and sometimes it's hard to use him in some situations," Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee said of Aumont. "He needs more reps. He needs to go down there and pitch. He hasn't been getting any ground-ball outs, which is disturbing. I think he's got one ground-ball out this month, to [Pittsburgh's Jordy] Mercer the other day. He should be a sinkerball, ground-ball machine."
Aumont is 1-3 with a 4.19 ERA in 22 appearances. He has allowed 24 hits, 13 walks and has struck out 19 in 19 1/3 innings. Opponents have hit .308 against him.
Dubee indicated he would like Aumont to work on a few things -- specifically, take advantage of his 6-foot-7 frame and lengthen his stride to the plate -- but Aumont has a certain comfort level with what he is doing.
"For a big guy, he should be getting out on top of hitters," Dubee said. "But when you try to do that, there is not that comfort zone, that trust zone. Those are things hopefully they'll chip away at and get him some length, get him on top of hitters more often, throwing from 60 feet at 6-foot-7. But that's tough to do at this level when you're looking for consistency and looking for performance. And now, all of a sudden you're trying to change it. They'll go back to work on it. He'll get out more on a regular basis."
Dubee said he hopes Aumont really examines his successes and failures at the big league and Minor League levels to improve.
"I think he has to do some self evaluation after every game," he said. "How did he throw the ball and where the ball was in reference to the strike zone? Was it knee high or above? Was it sinking? He's seen enough Major League hitters now, he should know what gets a Major League hitter and what doesn't get them out. If he's not making good enough pitches, he has to push himself to make better pitches now, so when he does come up here, he has that ability ingrained in him.
"He believes in what he's doing is going to work. You need belief in what you're doing, but at the same time I think there's more upside if he gets lengthened out a little bit. I don't mind headstrong guys. If you don't believe in what you're doing, you're not going to be successful. On the other hand, you have to have some self evaluation to see what's working and what isn't working."
• Carlos Ruiz has just a .616 OPS through 122 plate appearances this season, the lowest mark of his career. Manuel said he was not concerned.
"I think you can have career years, but at the same time I think Carlos' bat is going to be much better the second half of the season if he can stay healthy," he said.
• Darin Ruf played 60 games in left field and 19 games at first base with Triple-A Lehigh Valley, but expect to see him almost exclusively at first base while with the Phillies.
The Phillies' outfield is crowded, with Domonic Brown, Ben Revere, Delmon Young, John Mayberry Jr. and Laynce Nix. The club needs a first baseman with Ryan Howard expected to miss six to eight weeks following left knee surgery.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.