Phillies Bullpen Could Determine Success

The success of the Phillies in the postseason may come down to how much success their bullpen has. Right now, their bullpen is literally battered and bruised, but there's hope that by playoff time they'll be healthy enough to contribute.

With so many injuries sidelining relief pitchers at such a late date in the season, the makeup and effectiveness of the Phillies bullpen in the playoffs would appear to be a great unknown.

Ruben Amaro Jr. sees it another way.

"They could be rusty, probably will be rusty," Amaro, the team's general manager, said before Tuesday's doubleheader against the Marlins. "The other thing that's one of the residual effects in a positive way is these guys are fresh. Some guys have thrown a lot, Ryan (Madson) in particular. Getting these guys back late in the season could take some pressure off of him and give him a breather."

That's assuming, of course, that the injured relievers make it back.

The Phillies got a positive report on left-hander Scott Eyre, who was available to pitch in the doubleheader. Eyre had been sidelined since September 7 with a "loose body," likely a bone chip, floating in his left elbow.

But the Phillies remain in wait-and-see mode on right-handers Chan Ho Park and Brett Myers and lefty J.C. Romero, and even if they're ready to pitch by next week, there's no telling how sharp they will be.

Amaro provided the following updates on the relievers:

Myers underwent an MRI that revealed a Grade 1 strain of the latissimus dorsi muscle in his upper back near his shoulder. He won't throw a bullpen session until next Tuesday, and it's not known if he'll be able to pitch before the end of the regular season.

Romero, sidelined since July 23 with a strained left forearm and tendinitis in his elbow, threw a 50-pitch bullpen session Monday in Clearwater. He will pitch Thursday in a Florida Instructional League game.

Park, who strained his right hamstring last week, continues to progress, and although the Phillies haven't set a timetable for his return, Amaro is hopeful he will be able to pitch before the end of the regular season.

"It sounds like each guy is progressing enough so that we have some time to get them to pitch consistently," Amaro said.

Add to that the injuries to starters Pedro Martinez and J.A. Happ and the Phillies pitching is truly banged up.

Martinez saw a chiropractor Monday in South Florida and had an adjustment that relieved some pain in his stiff neck. Even so, the Phillies pushed his next start to Saturday to give him an extra day to rest. Cliff Lee, who threw only 52 pitches Sunday before a 111-minute rain delay forced him from the game, will start Friday on his usual rest. "I think I had a rib out of place," Martinez said, although GM Ruben Amaro Jr. seemed unaware of any rib problem. Martinez's status will be more definite after he throws a bullpen session Wednesday.

Happ, who left his last start after three innings for precautionary reasons to protect a strained right rib cage muscle, will make his next start Thursday in Milwaukee, as scheduled. Happ denied that he felt any pain during his previous start Friday in Atlanta, but manager Charlie Manuel and pitching coach Rich Dubee saw him grimace while turning to cover first base in the third inning. He was lifted after the fourth.

The news on catcher Carlos Ruiz isn't exactly encouraging either. Ruiz thought he would be good-to-go for game two of the Phillies doubleheader, but found out that he wasn't completely healed. Ruiz flew back to Philly following the game and will be examined by team doctor Michael Ciccotti, although the Phillies are hopeful that he'll be able to rejoin the team in Milwaukee for a four-game series that starts Thursday.

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