Holes remain as the Phillies fail to find internal answers to fill the 25-man roster. Outside help may be on the way.
Almost a month and a half after pitchers and catchers reported and manager Charlie Manuel is still looking for someone to step up. Yesterday, the last of the darkhorse candidates fell by the wayside as Travis Blackley, Vic Darensbourg and Gary Knotts were given pink slips, leaving J.D. Durbin and his 12-plus ERA as the 11th man on the pitching staff – which everyone assumes is just temporary.
Blackley, given many looks all spring, was told his services aren’t needed, implying the Phillies would rather have absolutely nothing than keep the Rule 5 left-hander, who was placed on waivers until the Giants decide if they want him back. For a finesse lefty like Blackley to succeed -- especially in relief -- he must hit his spots, which he could not do; he issued 8 walks in 8 1-3 innings. Darensbourgh and Knotts, in camp as non-roster invitees, were never serious candidates.
With Brad Lidge on the DL, the Phillies will open the season with only five relievers with some semblance of Major League success, plus J.D., arguably this spring’s worst overall player. Meanwhile, Kyle Kendrick, shelled again yesterday, is giving Durbin a run for his money as the player inspiring the least amount of confidence.
The club is having a hard time moving Wes Helms. With Lidge on the DL, and fringe pitchers like Blackley out of the picture, Helms could stay after all. He’s fighting for the final spot with outfielder Chris Snelling, who’s out of options, but young, left-handed and versatile.
The Phils are surely considering pitching help from a growing list of current or possible roster casualties, including Mike Stanton, Steve Kline, Tim Byrdak, Aaron Fultz and Rudy Seanez. These next few days will be interesting.