4/5/2014 8:25 P.M. ET
Papelbon bounces back with perfect inning
By Todd Zolecki and Joe Popely / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- Jonathan Papelbon's fastball never hit more than 91 mph in the ninth inning Saturday at Wrigley Field, but he threw a clean inning to pick up his first save of the season and bury the nightmare of Wednesday's blown save in Texas.
"This is what I chose to do," he said following the 2-0 victory over the Cubs. "I take the ups with the downs. For some reason I enjoy it. I don't know why. It's a roller coaster ride. I liked Space Mountain as a kid, you know what I'm saying?"
Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said Wednesday that Papelbon needed to mix his pitches better, which he said was addressed in between appearances. He said he noticed some improvement Saturday.
It will be important moving forward. In the past, Papelbon could rear back and blow a 95-mph fastball past hitters.
"I think I need to do more pitching," Papelbon acknowledged. "If that's what that means, yeah. The longer and longer I pitch I think the more and more I learn, so sometimes I need to be a pitcher more than a thrower. I get into that mode sometimes, just going out there and throw it by guys or throw a pitch without a certain intent.
"You know, as the season goes on, hopefully my velo will be able to increase. I think everybody usually hits their peak around June. But right now I'm going to focus on just pitching."
Sandberg chooses not to challenge call
CHICAGO -- The Phillies had an interesting play in the fourth inning Saturday at Wrigley Field.
The Phillies had runners on first and second with one out when Wil Nieves hit a ground ball to Cubs third baseman Mike Olt, who went to step on third base before he threw to first. It was an inning-ending double play, although it was clear to nearly everybody that Olt never touched the base. The Phillies took the field with Cliff Lee beginning his warmup throws when Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg went to talk to third-base umpire Hal Gibson.
"There was some inconclusiveness on our end," Sandberg said. "It was a little awkward so late with our guys warming up there. By the time I got out there, our whole team is out there and Cliff is warming up. It was an awkward moment. It was somewhat inconclusive."
Gibson told Sandberg he saw Olt touch third base, although replays showed otherwise.
"It was hard to tell whether he had it or not," Sandberg said about the call. "By the time we got some advice on it, my team is out there and Cliff is warming up. It was an awkward time there. It's something we have to get ironed out a little bit."
Rollins returns after birth of daughter
CHICAGO -- Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins was back in the lineup Saturday after missing the past two games for the birth of his second daughter, Logan Aliya.
Coming just 22 months after the birth of his first daughter, Camryn, Rollins said he was better able to handle the stresses of childbirth and is happy to be back with the team. Logan's delivery went smoothly and is resting at home with Rollins' wife, Johari.
"Yeah, it's good to be back," Rollins said. "You know, the first kid it was definitely like, I'm watching games on TV thinking, 'There's no way in the world I can play. Not right now. Everything is crazy.' The second child, like I said, you're a little more relaxed. Mom is fine; everything is good. Gotta go to work, baby."
Rollins' two-game absence -- he was never formally placed on the paternity-leave list -- came the same week Mets second basemen Daniel Murphy missed the first two games of the season to be with his wife for the birth of his first child, Noah. Murphy was criticized for that decision by New York sports radio hosts Mike Francesa, Boomer Esiason and Craig Carton.
Players are allowed 1-3 days for paternity leave, a provision that was negotiated into the 2011 MLB Players Association collective bargaining agreement.
"I heard about it," Rollins said of the criticism. "I was just like, 'I know what you're going through.' It's really none of anyone else's business except for that family's, and I support Daniel. I did the same thing. Especially as his first child, I believe, you're going to take those days off. That's what we fought for.
"We play a season 162 games and we're home for a week, gone for a week, home for 10 days, gone for 10 days and for the next six months, you barely get to see your child."
Rollins also noted how the situation differs between football and baseball.
"Unlike, I think Boomer jumped in, you know football, where you get to be home six days a week or five days a week -- you don't get that luxury in baseball. So he [Murphy] did the right thing, made sure his child is fine, made sure his wife's OK. Hopefully he got to go home with the baby once the family was able to leave the hospital, everybody's settled. Then his mind is cleared and go back to work and get back to business."
As for why Rollins thinks Murphy got attacked on radio?
"Everybody feels like they have something to say and they want to be heard, and it's a radio show," Rollins said. "They need ratings. Controversy sells."
Ruiz gets first break from behind the plate
CHICAGO -- Carlos Ruiz got his first break of the season Saturday afternoon at Wrigley Field.
Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg played backup catcher Wil Nieves for the first time this year. The break for Chooch is needed as no catcher in baseball started more than 134 games last season, and only four started more than 119.
Ruiz, who has spent each of the previous five seasons on the disabled list with various injuries, started the season on a tear, hitting .308 (4-for-13) with one double, five walks, six runs scored and a remarkable .625 on-base percentage. He spent two of those games hitting second while Jimmy Rollins left the team to spend time with his wife, who gave birth to their second daughter.
"I'm feeling great at home plate, I'm not afraid to work with two strikes," Ruiz said. "I do work the count a little bit, see more pitches. And then right there, you just want to give a chance to the guys behind you to [see the pitcher]."
Howard reflects on two appearances on Letterman
CHICAGO -- David Letterman announced his retirement from late-night television this week.
It would be a highlight for anybody to appear as a guest on the Late Show, normally reserved for actors, actresses, musicians and politicians. But Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard has appeared on the show twice: once as a guest in April 2007, months after being named 2006 National League Most Valuable Player, and once to perform the Top 10 list from the Phillies dugout during the 2010 postseason.
"It was a great experience, just being able to go in there," Howard said Saturday morning. "It was a lot of fun. A lot of fun. I really don't remember too much about the questions or anything like that. I just liked the whole experience."
Howard's Top 10 list was Reasons to Watch the Baseball Playoffs. No. 8? One lucky viewer will win a free Tommy John surgery. No. 7? We just had the Phillie Phanatic clipped, wormed and neutered.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. Joe Popely is an associate reporter for MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.