PBN Notebook: The Return of C-Rod

PhillyBaseballNews.com takes a look at some news and events from around the Phillies organization. Birthday boy Jacob Barrack has been impressive for the Lakewood BlueClaws and is one of the unheralded players in the organization. Plus, news on the return of Carlos Rodriguez, power outages in Reading and Lakewood and a power surge for Ryan Howard.

A win Sunday would be the icing on the cake for the Phillies during a tough 12 game stretch. While just a couple weeks ago it appeared that the Phillies could simply start preparing for next season, they're now back in the thick of things. Yes, they're still in last place, meaning that they have four teams to climb over. Yes, they'll finish the month of May with a record under .500, which historically doesn't bode well for pennant contenders. The fact is though that if all cylinders click, this club has the ability to overcome those obstacles and fight for a playoff spot.

Ed Wade's propensity for acquiring relievers will be a necessity this summer. Instead of the Todd Jones type retreads that he generally finds though, he'll need to find younger, more vital relievers to add to the mix. Tampa Bay's Danys Baez is one possibility. The fly in the ointment though is that the D-Rays will definitely want young prospects in return for Baez.

Jim Thome appears ready to snap out of his season-long slump. It was a good sign when he collected three hits against the Marlins on Wednesday and an even better sign when he went deep to straight away center field against Atlanta Friday night. With Saturday's 1-for-3 performance, Thome is now hitting .313 (5-for-16) since Monday and has a three game hitting streak, going 5-for-11 (.455) in those three games.

Ryan Howard is officially coming alive. He has homered three times in the last two games and now has seven on the season. Saturday, he launched a grand slam in Scranton's 10-0 win over Richmond. Howard has been hitting well all season, but with little power to show for it. Now, it appears that he's locked into one of his grooves and the power numbers will climb.

Randy Ruiz continues to put up impressive numbers at Reading. Ruiz has two homeruns this week to give him 12 on the season. His homerun Saturday snapped a three-game homerless streak for the R-Phils. Ruiz and Michael Bourn went deep on Tuesday to break a six-game homerless streak for the club.

Seung Lee had what could have been a good start interrupted by shaky defense. Errors by Jim Deschaine and Danny Gonzalez hurt Lee in Saturday's start. Lee was hit for four runs, but only one was earned. Because of the errors, his pitch count was escalated and he wound up lasting just 4 2/3 innings. He also appeared a little rattled on the mound and walked four hitters while giving up five hits. Without the errors, the story might have been different for Lee, who has pitched well at Reading.

Carlos Rodriguez was activated in Clearwater. After his suspension / retirement, Rodriguez spent some time in extended camp before rejoining his teammates with the Threshers. Reports are that not all of his teammates are happy to have him back. Rodriguez went 1-for-2 with two runs scored, playing shortstop in his first game back on Friday. Omar Bramasco had been getting most of the playing time at short with Rodriguez away from the club. While he hasn't been the most consistent hitter, Bramasco has done everything that the Phillies have asked of him in his minor league career, including pitching an inning this season for the Threshers. On the season, Bramasco is hitting .271 in 38 games with the Threshers.

While Reading has struggled to get some power, Lakewood is in the same situation, if not worse. While Ruiz leads Reading with 12 homeruns, Sam Orr leads Lakewood with seven. The BlueClaws are currently in a stretch of four homerless games. Last Saturday (May 21st) was a rare day for Lakewood when Michael Dzurilla, Jason Jaramillo and Ryan Frith all homered in the same game.

Speaking of Orr, he is Lakewood's team leader in homeruns (7) and RBI (34) by solid margins. Frith and Dzurilla each have three homeruns for second place, while Jaramillo is second in RBI with 22. One downside is that Orr's defense has been a little shaky. He is second on the club in errors (11) behind Brad Harman, who has 12 errors on the season. Orr also leads the team in strikeouts with 39 and is hitting just .253 on the season. Even with some pretty obvious holes in his game, there is no doubt that Orr has a lot of potential and could erase some of those deficiencies with some work. He's an interesting player to watch, to say the least.

Jacob Barrack (3-1, 1.77) doesn't get a lot of attention, but he's been impressive this season. Barrack is a hard worker and the Phillies are encouraged by his approach to the game. Ten days ago Barrack turned 23, but since he had some experience at Lakewood last season, he could be moved along to Clearwater before the end of the season if all goes well.

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