6/2/2014 8:07 P.M. ET
Phils seeking bench production; Rollins gets a rest
By Todd Zolecki and Austin Laymance / MLB.com
PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies haven't gotten much production from their bench this season, which has made it tougher for manager Ryne Sandberg to find rest for veteran starters Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Marlon Byrd.
Rollins got a rare day off on Monday against the Mets, with Cesar Hernandez filling in at shortstop. Byrd has started all but one game this season in right field. Utley has started 50 games at second base and Howard has made 51 starts at first. So far, that quartet has remained healthy and productive.
"They haven't had too many days off," Sandberg said. "So with the stretch of games we're in now, I will try and pick my spots as needed and conversations with the players as needed."
The Phillies are currently in a stretch of playing 20 games in as many days, with their next scheduled off-day on June 9. After that, the Phils have 21 games in 20 days before a day off on June 30. Will Sandberg try to find rest for his veterans during that period?
"I'll play that by ear and keep an eye on the guys," the manager said.
The Phillies' bench had combined to hit .168 (54-for-321) this season entering Monday. That group includes Hernandez, Freddy Galvis, Reid Brignac, Jayson Nix, Tony Gwynn Jr., John Mayberry Jr., Darin Ruf and Wil Nieves. The Phillies stressed defense when assembling their bench coming out of Spring Training, but a little more offensive production would help.
"I will try and get them some spot starts if I can," Sandberg said. "It would be best to get them some at-bats."
Nieves has been the best of the bunch, batting .268 in 11 starts as the backup catcher to Carlos Ruiz.
"Wil has been outstanding," Sandberg said. "He does a good job being ready to go, he gives quality at-bats and he's doing a nice job giving Chooch a break and still [adding] some offense to the lineup."
Lee hopes to begin throwing program on road trip
PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies had hoped Cliff Lee could begin his throwing program as early as last week, but the wait continues.
"It's still there a little bit," Lee said Monday about the discomfort in his left elbow. "It's getting better."
Lee has been on the 15-day disabled list since May 19 with a strained elbow. He said he plans to join the team on its upcoming six-game road trip to Washington and Cincinnati, which begins Tuesday night against the Nationals at Nationals Park. He is hopeful he can begin his throwing program on the road.
"There's a chance that could happen on this road trip," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said.
Byrd breaks bat on a swing and miss
PHILADELPHIA -- Marlon Byrd did something unusual in the sixth inning Sunday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park.
He broke his bat simply by swinging it.
"It wasn't broken [before I came to the plate]," Byrd said Monday. "Whether or not there was a hairline [fracture] maybe on the inside that I didn't see, maybe that was a possibility. It wasn't broken. It was ash. I used it for over two weeks [in games]. If anybody knows anything about ash or maple, the density, there's more flex with ash wood. So over time it just finally gave."
Byrd has been using that same model bat since 2005, so one bad break doesn't bother him much.
"Only one other time did I see a hitter take a check swing and crack a bat," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. "That was with an ash bat. It was Glenallen Hill [with the Cubs]. That was quite unbelievable."
• The Phillies promoted right-hander Phillippe Aumont and left-hander Cesar Jimenez from Triple-A to the big leagues Sunday in part because they were fresh arms. Right-hander Ken Giles has not pitched since Thursday, but Sandberg said, "He was not a consideration as of yesterday. His name wasn't brought up."
• The Phillies and Mets are the first teams to play three consecutive games of 11 innings or more since the Blue Jays and Mariners from Sept. 16-18, 1991. The Mariners and Blue Jays played 34 innings (two 11-inning games and one 12-inning game), while the Phillies and Mets played 39 innings (two 14-inning games and one 11-inning game).
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. Austin Laymance is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jalaymance. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.