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Posts Tagged ‘Adam Eaton’

Eaton still searching for answers

Posted by jrfinger on March 10, 2008

Leslie talks baseball on 610-WIP

Adam EatonCLEARWATER, Fla. – Adam Eaton thinks he’s going to be the team’s fifth starter. I don’t see it. It’s only because the Phillies are on the hook for $7.6 million dollars that he’s even in that position in the first place.

After limping through September last season, Eaton was left off the postseason roster. A move even he understood. After an off-season full of rehab and workouts focusing on his core, Eaton came into camp proclaiming he was fit and ready to perform the way a starting pitcher making that much money should perform.

We’ve yet to see it.

Eaton is 0-2 with a 15.75 ERA this spring. He’s shown little to get excited about and in fact, didn’t look much different than the hobbled veteran he was at the end of last year. Suddenly his back hurt. An injury Eaton never mentioned to the team during the off season. Yes, he did receive treatment for his back last year, but the pain always went away.

An MRI done Saturday revealed a slight disc herniation. Eaton threw 41 pitches during a bullpen session on Monday morning in which he felt no discomfort. He’ll throw again Wednesday and thinks he’ll be ready to pitch again on Saturday.

The clock is ticking and while nobody has made much of a case to take over that fifth spot, Eaton hasn’t made a case for why he should keep it. While Eaton may be pain free, Phillies fans won’t be if he doesn’t turn things around in a hurry.

When the Phillies signed Kris Benson it looked like a good idea, but maybe not one that would pan out with Eaton seemingly ready to reclaim his spot in the rotation. Now that Eaton is struggling and Benson is creeping ever so close to game shape, it’s starting to look like a really nice option for the Phillies. Benson may not be ready until late April or early May, but when he is I think he’ll become an integral part of the Phillies’ rotation. Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t think anyone else will emerge out of nowhere.

Chad Durbin may work his way into the rotation, but Durbin makes more sense in the bullpen to me. What may happen is that Durbin starts the year in the rotation and when Benson is ready Durbin can move back to the bullpen, where he’ll be a long-relief guy along with Ryan Madson. Durbin saw time in both roles last year with the Tigers and had success in both places. His flexibility is a valuable asset.

The other Durbin
Speaking of Durbins, J.D. Durbin started Monday against the Pirates in Bradenton. J.D. is also in the running for that fifth spot, but won’t be soon if he keeps pitching like he did Monday. Durbin gave up 5 runs on 8 hits over 3⅓ innings of work. That means that over the last seven games, every starter not named Myers has struggled to get outs. They say competition is healthy, but the only thing healthy right now seems to be the ERAs of the starting pitcher candidates. OK, maybe bloated is a better word.

Myers update
While so many starters are stuggling, Brett Myers has been on cruise control. Granted he’s been taking on a lot of minor leaguers as the Phillies’ brass watches the others duke it out against big league hitters, but as Myers pointed out, the minor leaguers like to feed on fastballs, and he relies pretty heavily on his fastball.

Myers threw a minor league game at the Carpenter Complex on Monday. He threw 75 pitches over 5⅔ innings. He gave a up a 2-run homer to Jake Blalock in the first inning but after that he settled in. Myers retired the last 12 batters he faced.

He said afterwards that he felt good but is feeling a little sore as he stretches out for the season. Myers hasn’t pitched this many consecutive innings since last April. The kind of soreness he’s feeling is to be expected.

Now if they could just get that many innings out of their other starters.

Lidge update
Brad Lidge threw off the mound on Monday for the first time since knee surgery. He threw 25 pitches and looked good. In a perfect world he could be back by March 31 (Opening Day) and so far, all is perfect. Pitching coach Rich Dubee said he sees that return date as a very real possibility.

If the Phillies need to get by for a few games without Lidge, they’re not worried, nor should they be. Tom Gordon has made a living out of the back end of the bullpen. They’ll be fine. More than just getting Lidge back on the mound, people want to see him get there and stay there without further injury. Can he be the closer he once was? That’s the $6.4 million question.

Too strong
Everyone should stop worrying about Kyle Kendrick … for now. And no, his “trade to Japan” is not, in any way, having an effect on how he pitches when he takes the mound.

As Dubee explained on Sunday, Kendrick is a sinker-ball pitcher and right now his ball isn’t sinking because Kendrick is “too strong right now.” Yes, too strong. If you throw a sinker ball too hard it’s not going to sink. The Phillies got Kyle from Double-A Reading last year after he had 70 or so innings under his belt. Kendrick, like Cole Hamels, isn’t likely to tear it up in spring training because of the way he pitchers.

Kendrick said there’s no reason to be concerned and if you hear him say it, you believe him. He said if it’s still like this in June, then he’ll be concerned. While he’s, to some extent, kidding, I wouldn’t be surprised if it takes him a good month into the season before he really settles down.

The Phillies get their first and only day off of the Spring on Tuesday. A much needed day of rest. The teams have been going at it pretty hard since mid-February. Chase Utley actually gets two consecutive days of downtime. Utley was the only regular to not make the trip to Bradenton on Monday. Instead Chase stayed behind and worked out at Bright House Field.

We sat down with Utley and talked about a number of things, some on the field stuff, some on the field. When he allows himself, Utley can be very funny. We saw him crack a smile a few times. We’ll bring you that interview Tuesday on SportsNite.


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Spring training – Day 1

Posted by jrfinger on February 14, 2008

pitchersCLEARWATER, Fla. – The first “injury” of the spring goes to pitcher Adam Eaton, who suffered a shin contusion (that’s my official diagnosis) when Phillies manager of media relations Greg Casterioto casually swung his foot behind him while talking to someone in the clubhouse, only to trip Eaton, who was walking behind him.

The athletic Eaton managed to keep himself from tumbling to the ground, but barely. After getting over the shock of the incident, Eaton sarcastically accused Casterioto of inflicting serious injury to his shin.

Fortunately Eaton did go unharmed in the incident, especially since Eaton has finally recovered from the shoulder trouble he suffered at the end of last season. Eaton proclaims himself ready to hold on to his spot in the rotation, a spot that’s pretty much his to lose.

When talking about last season with Eaton (10-10, 6.29 ERA), he said nobody was more upset than him that he failed the team so terribly. He said people would ask him if he was surprised he was removed from the rotation down the stretch and left off the postseason roster. He told them, “The right decision was made. They’d be stupid to put me on the playoff roster”.

Eaton said he is looking forward to “atoning for last season” and expects to be in the starting rotation when they break camp in the end of March.

Day 1, sort of
Sometime not so long ago, the first day of spring training turned into the first official day of spring training. The players don’t milk their off-season in today’s highly competitive world of baseball. In fact some of them arrive in Clearwater well in advance of the “first day”.

Cole Hamels got to town in the beginning of February. And while Thursday is the day pitchers and catchers are supposed to report, several position players have jumped into the fray. The most notable among that group is Ryan Howard, who arrived Thursday morning. New third-baseman Pedro Feliz was here Wednesday, as was Chase Utley. New acquisition Geoff Jenkins was finding his way around by mid-afternoon, and Pat Burrell lives here (although he hasn’t been here the last two days).

More than meets the eye
Charlie Manuel held his first post-practice media gathering on Thursday. As is the arrangement, the print media gets him first, then the electronic media can step in and conduct their interviews (this whole split interview session with the manager, by the way, was brought on by the print media some time ago because the writers didn’t like TV “stealing” their stuff, but that’s a whole other topic).

Anyway, Manuel can be quite entertaining, and I wish everyone could see the side of him that we in the media see. The perception of him by the general public is very different from the reality. He’s funny… and while he may be a self-proclaimed “redneck from West Virginia”, he’s smarter than people give him credit for.

Manuel can also be self-deprecating, as evidenced in Thursday’s gathering with the print media. When talking about getting off to a bad start the last three years, he pointed out that all three years they’ve had pitching issues at the beginning of the season. Manuel said, with a smirk on his face, maybe getting off to bad starts is partially his fault.

That opened the door for Daily News columnist Paul Hagen to sarcastically ask, “Why did you bring Fultz in to face Walker?” Chuck chuckled and quickly shot back, “that’s one of them … did you ever call someone and want to take it back?”

Hagen was referring to his call to the bullpen in a game against the Cardinals – opening week of the 2005 season. It was Manuel’s first year at the helm. The new skipper brought reliever Aaron Fultz in to face Larry Walker. Fultz walked Walker on four straight pitches, bringing in the tying run. He then walked in Albert Pujols. The Cards won 6-5.

Walker said afterwards, “It turned out to be a pretty smart move, pitching around me to get to Albert. Just kidding.”

Good sign
On new closer Brad Lidge, Manuel said he really liked what he saw in Thursday’s practice. He said the ball is bouncing all over the place once it leaves Lidge’s hand. When asked if he’ll use him for more than an inning at any point, Manuel said no, but he also noted, “I told you guys I wasn’t going to pitch [Billy Wagner] four outs and I did.

Lidge can reach 100 mph on the radar gun, and Manuel thinks that it’s important that Lidge uses both sides of the plate to be successful. He also said that if he gets Lidge in the game and he’s throwing like he can but they lose, “so be it.”

Manuel loves the back end of his bullpen – actually, the whole bullpen. If it plays out like it’s supposed to, new acquisition Chad Durbin and Ryan Madsen are your middle relievers; both eat up innings if necessary. J.C. Romero gives you that dominant lefty out of the pen, while Tom Gordon pitches the eighth and Lidge closes it out.

Speaking of Gordon. Flash came to camp in great shape. Manuel says he won’t hesitate bringing him in to close an occasional game.

Gordon is noticeably bigger. He said he feels like he did last year coming out of the All-Star break. He felt incredibly strong then and that’s how he feels now.

Almost every pitcher that’s being counted on this year dealt with some sort of injury or setback last year. They’re all healthy now, so if the Phillies PR staff can keep from taking anyone else down in the clubhouse, they should be in great shape going into the season.

Leslie on the WIP Morning Show
Leslie on the WIP Morning Show, #2

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