8/6/2013 8:30 P.M. ET
Talks with Cuban pitching prospect stalled
By Todd Zolecki / MLB.com
PHILADELPHIA -- Everybody waiting for the Phillies to officially announce an agreement with Cuban right-hander Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez might be waiting a while.
In fact, an announcement might never happen.
A source indicated to MLB.com on Tuesday that the two parties had hit a snag since word quickly spread July 26 the parties had agreed to a six-year, $48 million contract that included an $11 million option for 2019.
The Phillies have said nothing about Gonzalez since the story broke, not even as much as acknowledging anything might be cooking with the Cuban. Asked just before Tuesday night's game against the Cubs at Citizens Bank Park if a deal with Gonzalez might no longer happen, Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. repeatedly declined comment.
Since the agreement late last month, numerous reports have mentioned scouts with questions about Gonzalez's elbow. He had bone spurs removed from his elbow sometime within the past two years, although it has been written he had made a full recovery.
Scouts who have seen him pitch recently consider him a No. 3 starter in the big leagues, which would have helped the Phillies entering 2014.
Bastardo's future in Philly following suspension unclear
PHILADELPHIA -- It will be interesting to see what happens with Phillies left-hander Antonio Bastardo.
Major League Baseball suspended him 50 games for violations relating to its Biogenesis investigation. Bastardo went 3-2 with a 2.32 ERA in 48 appearances this season. In the past three seasons, the only left-handed reliever in Major League Baseball to have more strikeouts than Bastardo (198) is Reds closer Aroldis Chapman (266). The only left-handed relievers with a lower opponents' average than Bastardo (.187) are Chapman (.153) and Atlanta's Luis Avilan (.183).
RULES FOR SUSPENDED PLAYERS
|What they can't do:|
|Cannot receive pay|
|Cannot participate in Arizona Fall League|
|Cannot participate in Postseason games|
|Cannot be elected or selected to the All-Star Game (if player is suspended during the offseason, Spring Training, or championship season prior to the All-Star Game)|
|What they can do:|
|Can participate in Spring Training and extended spring training|
|Can participate in affiliated Winter League games|
|Can work out with the club|
|Can participate in batting practice before the gates open before a game|
|Can consent to an assignment to a Minor League affiliate for a period of time prescribed under Section 7.H.2 of the Joint Drug Program|
"We are disappointed, obviously," Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said Tuesday. "It's not the first guy and maybe not the last guy -- hopefully it's one of the last guys. We can't do anything about it other than hope that these guys maybe learn their lesson. I think what's happening is we're seeing the program working, and hopefully it will continue to deter players from doing what they're not supposed to be doing."
Amaro said Bastardo informed him Sunday night he might be suspended Monday. He has not spoken to him since.
Left-hander Cesar Jimenez had his contract selected from Triple-A Lehigh Valley to take Bastardo's spot on the 25-man roster.
But the real question at the moment is how much the Phillies can rely upon Bastardo in the future. Who knows how much PEDs boosted his performance? And who knows how much this will affect him in salary arbitration? Bastardo enters his second year of arbitration eligibility after making $1.4 million this season.
"Fortunately for us, we have him under control, so we can make those decisions," Amaro said. "If he stays in the arbitration process, the arbitrator will decide what salary he gets if we can't find something to come to a conclusion on. We have to take everything into account -- whether he can still be an effective pitcher and try to make the right decisions on him."
Said Phillies manager Charlie Manuel: "We'll see how good he'll be when we put him on the mound in Spring Training and let him pitch some and see where he's at velocity-wise and command-wise. He might get more innings in Spring Training than he usually gets."
Ruf put in right with Brown back in lineup
PHILADELPHIA -- Juan Samuel spotted Darin Ruf near the food room in the Phillies clubhouse Tuesday afternoon and told him Phillies manager Charlie Manuel had penciled him to play right field that night against the Cubs.
"I thought he was joking," Ruf said. "Then he quickly changed his tone."
"'No, I'm really serious,'" the coach said. "'I was looking for you. You need to take fly balls right now.'"
The Phillies put Ruf in right field because they activated Domonic Brown from the seven-day concussion disabled list, designating Laynce Nix for assignment to make room for Brown on the 25-man roster. Brown has a better arm than Ruf and he has played 437 games in right in his professional career compared to Ruf, who has played zero.
So why Ruf in right?
"Dom Brown's improved a lot in the outfield," Manuel said. "And he's been playing left field and his improvement has actually come in left field. I think that his season speaks for itself. Right now, we want to definitely find out what are options are for right. I like keeping [Brown] there, basically when you get down to it. I want to make sure Ruf gets some playing time and we look at him and he gets enough at-bats for us to see exactly what he can do."
Delmon Young has been playing almost exclusively in right field since he joined the team in late April. Ruf's move to right seems to drastically cut his playing time the remainder of the season, although more roster changes are looming.
"There will probably be some more changes on our team as we go down through August and September because the teams that definitely are in contention and trying to win, they might come in and maybe take some of our players," Manuel said. "There might be a few things going on, but I don't know. That could help him stay in the light, as far as playing."
Ruf took some fly balls in right before batting practice and took more during BP.
"Hopefully, it'll be a smooth transition, but I've never played there before," he said. "I played one winter ball game out there this year. Other than that, it's a new position. But other than that, hopefully, I'll be able to learn on the fly."
Phillies revisit decisions on Nix, Schierholtz
PHILADELPHIA -- Laynce Nix had never signed a guaranteed big league contract before the Phillies offered him a two-year, $2.5 million deal in Dec. 2011.
The Phillies let Nate Schierholtz go last November after a short stint with the team.
Both names resurfaced Tuesday when the Phillies designated Nix for assignment with the Cubs in town for a three-game series against the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.
Schierholtz, who signed with the Cubs, entered the night hitting .268 with 23 doubles, three triples, 14 home runs, 43 RBIs, a .500 slugging percentage and .827 OPS in 337 plate appearances. If he had enough plate appearances to qualify, his slugging percentage would rank fifth among 22 big league right fielders. His OPS would rank seventh. Nix, meanwhile, hit .180 with four doubles, two homers, seven RBIs, a .258 slugging percentage and a .486 OPS in 136 plate appearances.
Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. explained the front office's decision to cut ties with Schierholtz, who missed some time with the Phillies because of a broken foot, and keep Nix.
"Couple reasons why we did it," Amaro said. "We were obviously very left-handed. I guess we didn't get the opportunity to see Schierholtz as much as we would've liked. … A lot of those [two-year deals to bench players], much like the deals you'd give to a middle reliever, they're all kind of crapshoots. But if you want the player, and there's competition to get a player, sometimes you have to go the extra year to get him. But, you know, sometimes you make the right decisions on guys, sometimes you don't."
Added Phillies manager Charlie Manuel: "Nix already had a contract, and Nix was a proven bat off the bench."
Said Schierholtz: "[The injury] totally took away any chance that I had to make an impact here. I think I played 10 games or so before I broke my foot and my toe. Then I missed five weeks or so and then playing sporadically, I didn't have much time to make any impression."
• Phillies right-hander Roy Halladay, who is recovering from right shoulder surgery, threw a five-inning bullpen session on Monday. He is expected to do one more. Amaro said it went well. He offered no timetable for Halladay's return, but the Phillies originally said he could pitch again sometime in late August or early September.
• First baseman Ryan Howard, who is in Clearwater, Fla., recovering from left knee surgery, has not been cleared to hit yet.
"He's been throwing and doing some other things," Amaro said. "Again, we don't have a timeline for him. We hope he gets back in September at some point. Right now, we're just trying to get him as close to 100 percent as possible. We're not going to bring him here and have him play in Philadelphia unless we think he's absolutely 100 percent and ready to go."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.