While the big club continues their series in Pittsburgh, a juicy subplot will unfold tonight in Baseballtown, where Brett Myers makes his third rehab start in his quest to rejoin the Phillies.
Once again, FirstEnergy Stadium serves as the backdrop for one of the season’s most compelling dramas. In the days leading up July 31, visiting scouts observed Kyle Drabek, part of the package Toronto wanted for Roy Halladay. (Drabek has a 5.02 ERA since the deadline). Soon after, Pedro Martinez’s final rehab appearance drew the largest crowd in Reading history. Tonight, it’s Myers’ turn, making his third stop on a rehab tour that started Aug. 20 in Clearwater. So far, the 29-year-old has pitched two innings, allowed two hits, a walk while striking out four. Following Monday’s start in Lakewood, Myers reported no problems with his surgically repaired hip, telling reporters he's been running on it and pushing harder with every passing start. Myers recently admitted his hip had much to do with his sudden dip in velocity that started before the 2008 season.
If tonight goes smoothly, it’s conceivable to write Myers into the Phillies’ stretch-run plans for real. Expect one more rehab appearance, and that's that. Once he returns, he’ll immediately be thrust into closer controversy, wearing white to Brad Lidge’s black. No stranger to late-season heroics, the Phils will be releasing something of a caged animal, one deprived of competition, pitching for a new contract and returning to his preferred role.
Myers' tire: Myers has been preparing for life in the bullpen in more than one way. Woah. [Video]
Injury updates: J.C. Romero and Clay Condrey are in still in the short bullpen session stage, both tossing 35 pitches Monday. Condrey is scheduled for another one tomorrow, while Romero told the Inquirer he doesn’t know when he’ll pitch next. Reading between the lines, it sounds like they won’t be along for the stretch run.
Mathieson: Beerleaguer’s senior correspondent reports Scott Mathieson was firing bullets last night, pulling the string on a 93-97 fastball and registering one that topped 102 on Reading’s charitable gun. The right-hander pitched two scoreless innings, striking out two, in earning the win over Erie.
Reader makes case to stick with Lidge: “They have to keep him in there right now. Park and Madson are flourishing in their roles and the pen is set up very well generally speaking at the moment. They are in no real danger of not winning the division so they have the luxury of waiting to see what their pen looks like in a couple of weeks and then making some decisions. If you take Lidge out of the ninth inning for Madson then, in effect, you lose two pitchers because he certainly won't be pitching the 8th, and if you put Park in the 9th then you almost lose three pitchers because of Park's ability to go two innings. We have to be patient and see where we are in a couple of weeks. If we look at the positive then we can realize that pitching four days in a row is tough on any closer and he had looked very good for the previous three days. Let's chalk it up to that and hope. I do believe that if he is still having these problems in a few weeks Manuel will be doing something different in October. What do you really expect him to say in a press conference now?” -- Mitch Rothbardt