Tejeda Ready To Help in Phils' Rotation

Robinson Tejeda figured on having to prove himself in a full season at AAA, thanks in part, to a weak season in 2004. Instead, he found himself as a late addition to the Phils bullpen when Tim Worrell went on the DL and now, he's stepping into the starting rotation.

Robinson Tejeda's second career start hopefully set the tone for the Phillies' three-game series against Oakland this weekend. In the series opener on Friday, Tejeda was filling the rotation spot of Randy Wolf, who might need to undergo season-ending elbow surgery. He gave the Phillies 5 2/3 innings of shutout pitching as the Phils beat the A's 6-1.

Tejeda has proven to be unflappable in his nine major league appearances, posting a 3.00 ERA. Because of a double-header, Tejeda was called on to make a spot start June 8 against Texas and threw five shutout innings. His Friday night outing in Oakland means that he is unscored upon in 10 2/3 innings of work as a starter for the Phillies.

That was much more than the Phillies expected when they promoted him from AAA Scranton Wilkes-Barre on May 6 to fill the final bullpen spot after Tim Worrell was placed on the disabled list. "He came along at the right time for us," manager Charlie Manuel said.

In the minors this year, Tejeda regularly threw his fastball in the 96-98 mile per hour range, and attributed the added arm strength to his work during winter ball in the Dominican Republic. During his start he kept his fastball around the mid-90s. He also walked only two batters, exhibiting better control after walking seven batters over his previous 2 1/3 innings.

Tejeda, 23, wondered where his career was heading after he went 8-14 with a 5.15 ERA for AA Reading last year. He was invited to spring training this year, and started five games for Scranton, with a 2-0 record and 2.22 ERA, before being called up.

"Last year at this time, I was kind of falling in their eyes," Tejeda said. "From then to now, it's been a big change. I'm working every day and I'm expecting to get better."

His first start came against a Rangers team that led the American League in hitting at the time. His second will be against an Athletics team with the league's second-worst average and third-worst run-scoring output.

The Phillies could use Tejeda in the rotation, since Randy Wolf was told Tuesday that he might need Tommy John surgery on his pitching elbow after an MRI and ultrasound taken the day before revealed damage to the ulnar collateral ligament.

Team doctor Michael Ciccotti made the diagnosis, citing Wolf's previous history of elbow trouble. The 28-year-old Wolf has been on the disabled list three previous times in his career because of elbow tendinitis, once in 2002 and twice last year.

Wolf will seek second and third opinions from Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, Ala., and Dr. Lewis Yocum in Los Angeles this week.

A prolonged absence by Wolf would weaken a starting rotation that was 17-5 with a 3.90 ERA through its last 28 games, helping the Phillies climb from last place to second in the National League East.

"We're going to miss him," manager Charlie Manuel said. "He's one of the key guys in our rotation. We've got to replace him with someone of equal value."

News and Notes:

  • The Phillies decided against calling up Ryan Howard from AAA Scranton Wilkes-Barre to be the DH during their six games at Seattle and Oakland this week. Howard was batting .371 with 11 home runs for Scranton when the Phillies headed for Seattle, but the Phillies chose instead to keep 12 pitchers.
  • Jon Lieber committed a career-high two errors on similar plays Tuesday. In the second inning, he short-armed a short toss to first base, allowing Dave Hansen to reach base. He repeated the gaffe in the eighth on Randy Winn's groundball. Neither runner scored.
  • Pat Burrell went 0-for-4 Tuesday, snapping his hitting streak at 11 games. He fell three games short of his career high, set in 2001.
  • Jimmy Rollins could have become a free agent after the 2006 season. Instead the 26-year-old signed a contract extension with the Phillies that will guarantee him $40 million over the next five seasons. There's a team option for 2011 that could add an additional year and $6.5 million to the deal.

    In spring training the Phillies and Rollins' agent, Dan Lozano, were getting close to an agreement on a contract extension when time ran out. Rollins didn't want the negotiations to linger into the regular season, so they came to a halt.

    Then general manager Ed Wade had a meeting with team president David Montgomery and assistant G.M. Ruben Amaro Jr. late last month. The consensus was that the organization didn't want to wait until next winter to finish the deal, that they were close enough to get a contract worked out quickly, quietly and in a manner that wouldn't distract Rollins.

    "I was kind of shocked that they came to me," said Rollins, who is hitting .263 with five home runs, 19 RBI and 13 SB in 62 games this season. "I wanted to put it out of my mind. I thought I'd play this season, then get back to it at the end of the season. But then they asked (to resume negotiations). The way I viewed was let's feel out where we could go."

    Rollins put Lozano in charge and told him to keep him informed - but not too informed.

    "That's what my agent is paid to do," Rollins said. "I told him when something important develops, that's when you give me the call. I didn't want to hear about it every time a small detail came up."

    It helped that Lozano also represents Angels shortstop Orlando Cabrera, who signed a four-year, $32 million contract as a free agent last winter. That deal and the four-year, $40 million contract that shortstop Edgar Renteria signed with the Red Sox made the money matters much easier to figure out.

    "It crystallized the market," Wade said. "We were disappointed that we didn't get to the finish line this spring."

    Including the bonus, which will be payable in $1 million increments in July of each contract year, Rollins will make $5 million in 2006, $8 million in 2007 and 2008, and $8.5 million in 2009 and 2010. The Phillies have an option in 2011 worth $8.5 million. If they decline the option, Rollins will receive a $2 million buyout.

    The deal makes him among the best-paid shortstops in baseball.

    So, where does Rollins rates himself among the shortstops?

    "I'd say I'm maybe around the top five," said Rollins, which prompted Wade to chime in, "I thought he was No. 3. We may have to redo the deal."

    "Hopefully in the long run the team comes out with the better end of the deal," Rollins said.

  • Amaury Telemaco wasn't off the big-league roster long. Three days after the Phillies designated him for assignment to make room in the bullpen for RHP Ugueth Urbina and minutes after he cleared waivers, the Phillies re-purchased his contract to take the roster spot opened by Randy Wolf's injury.
  • Geoff Geary has been working on a slider with pitching coach Rich Dubee that the Phillies believe could help him take the step from borderline big-leaguer to trustworthy reliever. Geary's fastball touches 94 mph, so an effective off-speed pitch could help him take advantage of the velocity.
  • Cory Lidle got in a barking match with OF Carlos Lee after the Brewer led off the second inning with a solo homer Sunday. "He watched it for a long time," said Lidle, who improved to 6-4 with seven innings of one-run action. "I told him to stop watching. I didn't like him watching it, and he didn't like me staring at him.

    "I don't mind if somebody admires their work. But watch it on tape if you want to see how far it goes. Don't show me up."

  • Chase Utley hit his first homer of the season against a southpaw Sunday when he went deep off Milwaukee's Tommy Phelps. He entered the game with just one homer in 57 career at-bats against lefties, but he will see an increase in playing time against them now that Placido Polanco has been traded to the Tigers.
  • The numbers game: 7.06 - ERA for RHP Gavin Floyd in Triple-A. The Phillies' prized prospect has been struggling so badly in the minors that the team can't even consider calling him up to take over the rotation spot that opened with Randy Wolf's elbow trouble.

    He said what? "I used to boo Santa Claus when he didn't bring me anything. I did more than boo." - Manager Charlie Manuel, when told that Philadelphia fans once booed Santa Claus.

    Philly Baseball Insider Top Stories