6/26/2014 8:20 P.M. ET
Papelbon has stiff competition for All-Star spot
By Austin Laymance and Todd Zolecki / MLB.com
PHILADELPHIA -- Chase Utley is a near lock to make the National League All-Star team with his commanding lead in voting among second basemen, but Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon could be a candidate.
Papelbon is 2-1 with a 1.48 ERA and 18 saves in 20 opportunities. His ERA ranks 13th out of 76 qualified NL relievers entering Thursday, and it's the third lowest among relievers with 10 or more save opportunities. He is on pace for his lowest ERA since he pitched for the Red Sox in 2009 (1.85 ERA). Papelbon also has a 0.99 WHIP, which is his lowest since 2011 (0.93).
But Papelbon faces a tough battle with Milwaukee's Francisco Rodriguez (25 saves, 2.29 ERA), St. Louis' Trevor Rosenthal (23 saves, 3.13 ERA), Atlanta's Craig Kimbrel (22 saves, 2.37 ERA), San Diego's Huston Street (20 saves, 0.96 ERA), Miami's Steve Cishek (18 saves, 1.93 ERA), Washington's Rafael Soriano (18 saves, 1.13 ERA) and Cincinnati's Aroldis Chapman (14 saves, 2.57 ERA).
Papelbon is a five-time All-Star, including once with the Phillies in 2012.
Fans can cast their votes for starters at MLB.com -- online or on a mobile device -- using the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot Sponsored by Experian until Thursday, July 3, at 11:59 p.m. ET. The 2014 All-Star Game will be played at Target Field on Tuesday, July 15 on FOX.
O'Sullivan to come up for twin bill vs. Braves
PHILADELPHIA -- Right-hander Sean O'Sullivan will be brought up from Triple-A to start the second game of Saturday's doubleheader against the Braves, the Phillies announced on Thursday.
O'Sullivan will be pitching on five days' rest. He's posted a 4.31 ERA over 10 starts with Lehigh Valley this season. O'Sullivan made three starts with the Padres last year. He signed a Minor League contract with the Phillies in December. In 37 career Major League starts from 2009-13, O'Sullivan is 9-15 with a 6.02 ERA.
"He's one of the more experienced guys down there," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. "He's got some experience starting in the big leagues."
The Phillies will need to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for O'Sullivan in advance of Saturday's doubleheader, but they do not need to make a move with the 25-man roster. A rule in the Collective Bargaining Agreement allows clubs a 26-man roster for day-night doubleheaders that are scheduled at least 48 hours in advance.
Right-hander Roberto Hernandez is scheduled to start the first game of the twin bill.
Brown out of lineup, sits down with Sandberg
PHILADELPHIA -- Domonic Brown was not in Thursday night's starting lineup, one day after making a critical defensive miscue in a 3-2 loss to the Marlins. Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said he sat down with the struggling left fielder to talk about a variety of adjustments.
"I had a good conversation with him about making adjustments and then trying to apply them during the game, both on the offensive and defensive side of things, being prepared out there on defense for every pitch, knowing the game situation, getting good jumps on balls," Sandberg said.
The Phillies need better all-around production from Brown, who was an All-Star last season after slugging 23 home runs in the first half. This year, his .593 OPS ranks 163rd out of 167 qualified players.
"He's really developed an uppercut swing," Sandberg said. "He's missing his pitches and it puts him in the hole a lot of at-bats."
Brown is not hitting like he did in 2013, but his defense has also been a cause for concern. On Wednesday, Brown misplayed a catchable line drive that allowed the Marlins to extend the inning and score their only runs of the game. Sandberg said Brown has "seemed tentative" at times defensively.
John Mayberry Jr. started in left field on Thursday night, and Sandberg cited defense as the main reason for the lineup change.
Former top prospect Biddle put on inactive list
PHILADELPHIA -- Jesse Biddle entered the 2014 season as the Phillies' top pitching prospect, but at the moment, he is lost.
The Phils placed the Double-A left-hander, who they selected in the first round of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft, on the inactive list. Biddle, who is 3-9 with a 5.03 ERA in 13 starts, told the Reading Eagle, "I'm miserable out there. I'm very unhappy. And I don't know why."
Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. confirmed it is what it sounded like.
"We decided to give Jesse a mental break," Amaro said of the 22-year-old hurler.
Biddle -- who is 0-4 with a 12.64 ERA in his last four starts, pitching past the third inning just once -- battled the mental side of the game in 2013. He also suffered through whooping cough, and a postseason MRI exam revealed he pitched the final month of the season with plantar fasciitis in his left foot.
He finished 5-14 with a respectable 3.64 ERA, but battled through constant frustrations.
"I was really, really immature in some ways handling my illnesses, handling some of the adversity I was facing," Biddle said in January. "There were a lot of times I failed last year, and I didn't handle it the right way. There are some things I really want to grow up on and want to improve."
Former Phillies ace Roy Halladay had a one-on-one discussion with Biddle in Spring Training. He spoke with him for about 30 minutes one afternoon, discussing the mental aspects of pitching and handing him a copy of "The Mental ABC's of Pitching" by Harvey Dorfman, which Halladay credits for helping saving his big league career.
"A big thing for me will just be not sitting on things as long," Biddle said. "There are times where I'll let a game affect me for too long after the game is over, when the fact is, once my manager takes the ball out of my hands, there's nothing I can do. As much as I want to, as much as I want to go back and replay it over and over in my head, there's nothing I can do to change it."
The Phillies also announced they released Double-A outfielder Jiwan James, who they selected in the 22nd round in 2007.
• Catcher Wil Nieves, on the 15-day disabled list with a right quad strain, has reported to the Phillies' Minor League complex in Clearwater, Fla., to begin a rehab program.
Austin Laymance is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jalaymance. Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.