9/13/2013 12:48 A.M. ET
American Idol winner helps support youth baseball
By Todd Zolecki / MLB.com
PHILADELPHIA -- American Idol winner Scotty McCreery sang Take Me Out to the Ballgame in the seventh inning at Citizens Bank Park on Thursday night.
But that wasn't the only reason he was there. He also threw out the ceremonial first pitch and presented the Phillies' RBI program a $5,000 check to support their efforts. Philadelphia is just one ballpark stop for McCreery, who is on a six-ballpark tour to help show his support for youth baseball.
McCreery won Season 10 of the popular TV show.
Rollins one home run shy of elite mark
PHILADELPHIA -- It has been a rough season for Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins, but he is close to joining elite company.
He needs one more home run for 200 in his career, which would make him one of just 10 players in baseball history with 200 home runs and 400 stolen bases. The others are Rickey Henderson, Barry Bonds, Craig Biggio, Paul Molitor, Joe Morgan, Johnny Damon, Roberto Alomar, Marquis Grissom and Bobby Bonds.
Phillies interim manager Ryne Sandberg, who had 282 home runs and 344 stolen bases in his Hall of Fame career, is impressed.
"Absolutely," he said. "Especially for an up-the-middle guy. That's a plus with his bat and the power. Also shows the speed he's got. But you know, that's his package. He has hidden pop in there and the ability to hit the ball out of the ballpark. Normally happens when he's not trying to do it. His speed is his speed. It's a rare combination. It's bringing very good offense to the shortstop position, which really wasn't the case 20, 25 years ago. Just had primarily good glove guys. Maybe it was back 30 years ago when guys up the middle were good glove guys. He's an offensive player and an excellent baserunner."
Rollins entered Thursday's series finale against the Padres at Citizens Bank Park hitting .244 with 28 doubles, two triples, six home runs, 37 RBIs, 19 stolen bases, 53 runs scored and a .650 OPS. His OPS ranked 136th out of 143 qualifying players in baseball this season.
It is the worst mark of his career.
"I don't think that he's had a hot streak like he's had in the past, a month of just being locked in on the offensive side of it," Sandberg said. "You could say the whole team was like that. Everybody around him was the same way."
Brown takes BP, feels 'close to 100 percent'
PHILADELPHIA -- Domonic Brown has had one heck of a season.
Imagine what it could have been if he had not been sidelined the past few weeks with a right Achilles issue.
Brown has made just 12 plate appearances since Aug. 23, but he still entered Thursday's game hitting .274 with 18 doubles, four triples, 27 home runs and 81 RBIs. Incredibly, despite the missed time, Brown still ranks fourth in the National League in home runs and eighth in RBIs.
He said he hopes to play before the end of the season, although he offered no timetable for his return.
Brown took batting practice Thursday afternoon, which he said would be a good test for him.
"I'm just trying to finish the season being healthy," he said. "If I'm feeling it, if it's bothering me, then I'm not going to play around with it. But I feel good right now. I feel like I'm close to 100 percent."
Lannan eager to prove himself next spring
PHILADELPHIA -- John Lannan understands the economic landscape of baseball pretty well.
He signed a one-year, $2.5 million contract with the Phillies in the offseason, but suffered a left knee injury last month and had surgery a short time later. Lannan is hopeful he will be 100 percent and ready to go by the beginning of Spring Training, but where remains to be seen.
Lannan is eligible for salary arbitration, but it seems likely the Phillies do not tender him a contract. If they did, he would be in line for a raise, which would be a risk considering he made 14 starts this season and is trying to come back from knee surgery. They could non-tender him and bring him back for less, or they just could just non-tender him and let him sign elsewhere.
"There are so many different scenarios," said Lannan, who is using crutches to get around the next few weeks. "It's not like I can go out there and change their mind. I did what I could do when I was healthy. I pretty much have an idea of what's going to go down. I'm not an idiot. I'm ready for the challenge, whatever comes up. I just want to make sure this is right. That's the only thing I can control. The other stuff I can't control."
Asked if he would be up for competing for a job in camp, Lannan said, "I think it'd be good. I've never come into camp thinking I've locked up a spot. I've always enjoyed the competition. It pushes you a little harder. I'm looking forward to proving to myself, and whoever I sign with or if I stay here, that I can help a team win."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.