PBN Notebook: Pitching Struggles in Clearwater

There's plenty of news and notes from around the Phillies organization. Unfortunately, a lot of the news centers around struggling pitchers - especially starters. There's some good news though, including Allen Davis, Franklin Perez, Chris Honsa and Nathan Johnson who were all picked as Pitcher of the Week for their respective teams.

Philadelphia Phillies  21-24 5.5 GB

David Bell has been back on a roll at the plate. Bell hit .333 (7-for-21) over the past week and has a current nine game hitting streak, hitting .400 (12-for-30) over his last nine games. Defensively, he had a tough week with three errors in Tuesday's game. Luckily for the Phillies, Cory Lidle (4-3, 3.75) picked up the slack, making three strong defensive plays. The Phillies overcame Bell's three errors and two others to beat St.Louis.

Mike Lieberthal is still bothered slightly by a sore finger after being hit by a pitch over a week ago. Because of that and his continued problems at the plate, Todd Pratt has been seeing more time in the lineup. Lieberthal hit his third homerun of the month on Sunday, but is hitting just .205 (8-for-39) in the month of May.

Bobby Abreu had his 13 game hitting streak broken Saturday in Baltimore. Abreu was on one of the most impressive tears ever by a Phillies player and it garnered him National League Player of the Week honors last week. Over his hit streak, Abreu hit .523 (23-for-44) and raised his average to .336 on the season. While he went hitless on Saturday, he returned to go 1-for-4 on Sunday and has hit safely in 17 of the last 19 games at a .431 (28-for-65) pace.

Player of the Week: Pat Burrell went 10-for-20 (.500) on the week, with two homeruns, eight RBI and three runs scored. On the season, Burrell is hitting .303 and leads the team with 37 RBI.

Pitcher of the Week: Cory Lidle pitched two gems this week. In the first game, he overcame five errors to beat St.Louis and came back on Sunday to throw a complete game gem against Baltimore. Lidle went 2-0, 1.80 on the week with eight strikeouts in 15 innings of work.

Scranton Wilkes-Barre Red Barons  18-25 9.0 GB

Mark Budzinski and Jim Rushford continue to hit for Scranton. The two combined to go 18-for-57 (.316) over the week. Both are credited with being positive influences in the clubhouse and with helping younger players to stay focused and adjust to the rigors of AAA ball. Budzinski and Rushford are almost like having two extra coaches on the club. Unfortunately, the Phillies AAA roster is filled with too many minor league veterans and not enough strong prospects. Rushford holds the longest current hitting streak for Scranton, collecting hits in 11 straight games and going 16-for-44 (.364) over the stretch.

Ryan Howard is still nursing a sore hamstring. He didn't start Saturday or Sunday after rejoining the Red Barons after being optioned out after Friday night's game to make room for Jim Thome. Howard did pinch-hit on Sunday and struck out in his only at bat. There's no word on when he'll return to the starting lineup, but he has said that the injury is continuing to get better.

Pedro Liriano picked up the loss Sunday, but didn't pitch badly. In fact, he made two starts this past week and pitched pretty well. In 13 2/3 innings, Liriano allowed nine hits and four walks, while striking out ten. He finished the week 0-1 with a 1.32 ERA.

Player of the Week: Anthony Medrano went 10-for-27 (.370) over the week. Medrano is one of those veteran types who is still hoping for a utility spot with a major league club at some point in the future. On the season, Medrano is hitting .248 for the Red Barons.

Pitcher of the Week: Franklin Perez went 0-0, 0.00 with a save for Scranton over the past week. Perez threw three shutout innings and allowed two hits and one walk. On the season, Perez is 1-1, 3.50 with eight saves.

Reading Phillies  19-24 6.0 GB

The R-Phils appeared that they were going to try to claw their way back into the division race, but they've stumbled. Going 3-4 over their last seven games isn't helping. At one point, Reading had won five of six games, but they've struggled since then and haven't been able to pull themselves up in the Southern Division standings.

Mike Smith did his part this week to help the R-Phils, posting a 2.77 ERA. Unfortunately, he got little help and lost one of the two games that he started, while picking up a no-decision in the other. On Sunday, Smith struggled with his control and was hit for three earned run in five innings, losing to New Hampshire. Earlier in the week though, he threw a gem against Binghamton, going eight innings and giving up just one run.

Seung Lee had another impressive outing on Wednesday. He went six innings against Binghamton and gave up just one run, getting a no-decision in the R-Phils 2-1 win over the B-Mets. The game went 10 innings with Ryan Cameron throwing a shutout inning to pick up the win in relief.

Chris Roberson says that he doesn't feel any ill effects from the stress fracture in his leg that he suffered late last season. You have to wonder though. Last season, he stole 16 bases in 83 games and is on a pace to steal just 13 over the same number of games this season. Consider that in 2003, Roberson stole 59 bases in 132 games and the numbers really make you wonder. Roberson's pace would have him stealing just 21 in 132 games this season.

Player of the Week: Michael Bourn continues to get it done for the R-Phils. Bourn went 7-for-23 (.304) over the past week and is hitting .272 on the season. Bourn has shown patience at the plate, collecting 21 walks to help push his on-base percentage to .363 at Reading. Bourn leads the team in stolen bases with 11; the rest of the team has 13, including six from Chris Roberson and five from Ryan Fleming.

Pitcher of the Week: Allen Davis (4-2, 2.48) didn't pick up any decisions this week, but pitched well enough to win. He threw seven shutout innings against New Hampshire on Saturday, but Reading lost 2-1. Davis left the game with a 1-0 lead, but the bullpen gave up a tying run in the eighth and then Ryan Cameron gave up a walk-off homerun in the bottom of the 13th inning. Davis leads the R-Phils in wins (4), innings pitched (58) and starter's ERA (2.48).

Clearwater Threshers  11-32 18.0 GB

Zach Norman continues to struggle at the plate. The deposed starting catcher is hitting just .188 on the season and is in a 3-for-28 (.107) slump. Brad Sellier went from hot to cold pretty quickly. After starting the week 7-for-12 (.583), Sellier has gone hitless in his last eight at bats and finished the week going 7-for-20 (.350). Sellier is hitting .205 for Clearwater, thanks mainly to a horrible start to the season.

Jake Blalock has the longest current hitting streak for the Threshers. Blalock is in the midst of an eight game streak, that has seen him go 12-for-29 (.414). The streak has helped to push Blalock's season average to .280. Blalock is on a pace to hit 20 homeruns, which is right around where the Phillies thought he would be. Surprisingly, Tim Moss leads the Threshers with 7 homeruns.

Another tough week for Matt Sweeney (0-5, 7.82). Sweeney made two starts, going ten innings and giving up ten runs on 15 hits and six walks, while losing both games. Of course, Erick Glaser has gone 0-7, 7.44 for the Threshers, so Sweeney has company. Glaser lost his seventh game on Thursday when he gave up three earned runs in five innings against Daytona.

Zack Segovia has been struggling too. At one point, Segovia was 1-2, 3.41 after throwing seven shutout innings against Sarasota. Since then, he's gone 0-3, 9.33 in four starts. He's given up 29 hits in 18 1/3 innings and walked nine while striking out 10 over the span.

Player of the Week: Marc Tugwell is taking to catching pretty well. Tugwell is being converted to work behind the plate and has done a decent job. His offensive numbers certainly haven't suffered. Tugwell hit .393 (11-for-28) over the past week and he's hitting a team leading .359 on the season. He also leads Clearwater with a .417 on-base percentage.

Pitcher of the Week: Chris Honsa came on to work Clearwater out of a couple of tight spots this week. In two relief appearances, Honsa threw 4 2/3 innings of shutout ball, giving up two hits and a walk while striking out three. Honsa seems to have turned the corner on his season and has lowered his ERA to 4.82 in five games.

Lakewood BlueClaws  15-29 13.0 GB

Maximo Delacruz and Carlos Carrasco were supposed to be two of the brighter stars on the Lakewood pitching staff. Both have struggled badly. Carrasco made it through 8 1/3 innings in two starts this past week, going just three innings in Saturday's loss to Lake County. He gave up ten earned runs on 12 hits and five walks. On the season, Carrasco is 1-5, 6.35 for Lakewood. Delacruz was hit for seven runs in five innings Sunday and went 0-2, 8.48 on the week. This season, Delacruz is 1-6, 5.32 in eight starts.

Meanwhile, J.A. Happ continues to cruise. Happ added seven more strong innings to his resume when he started against Hagerstown on Thursday. Happ got a no-decision in the BlueClaws 2-1 loss in 10 innings. Happ is 3-1, 2.40 in five starts at Lakewood. Joe Bisenius returned to Lakewood and threw three shutout innings Friday as Lakewood beat Hagerstown 10-2. Bisenius had struggled earlier and was sent to extended spring training before making his return to Lakewood.

Michael Dzurilla had his 13 game hitting streak snapped on Sunday when he went 0-for-4 with a walk. Dzurilla hit .400 (22-for-55) during the streak and is hitting .369 on the season. Dzurilla has played in 21 of Lakewood's 44 games after starting the season in extended camp.

Player of the Week: Ryan Frith hit .333 (8-for-24) this week for Lakewood. After hitting .243 at Batavia last season, Frith is putting up impressive numbers at Lakewood, hitting .330 with a .400 OBP. He has also played well defensively, making just two errors.

Pitcher of the Week: Nathan Johnson threw four shutout innings in relief for Lakewood over the past week. He allowed three hits and no walks while striking out two. Johnson has pitched in 13 games, two as a starter, and is 4-1, 3.16 for Lakewood with 22 strikeouts and just three walks in 25 2/3 innings of work.


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