Notes: Burrell swinging a hot bat
Left fielder has been on fire, hitting .448 since July 1
CHICAGO -- Pat Burrell heard the Citizens Bank Park fans clearly on July 1, after an 0-for-4 game sank his batting average to .201.They understandably weren't happy with Burrell's .125 performance (8-for-64) over a 24-game stretch from June 1 to July 1 and kept Burrell apprised. "That was rough," Burrell said, of what had been a constant memory of his first three months. "You obviously hear it. As bad as they can be, they've been that much better when it's going good. All you have to do is hit three homers every night." Burrell took an alternate, yet similarly successful route to respectability in his next 23 games, batting a sizzling .448 (30-for-67) to lift his average to .260 entering Wednesday's game against Chicago. .448. Not counting a hitless pinch-hitting appearance, Burrell has gotten at least one hit in 20 of the 22 games he's started, and walked twice in each of the hitless games, putting him on base in every start. He's also socked six homers, driven in 22 runs and had eight multihit games. Burrell, whose home run Tuesday gave the Phillies the lead and came after fouling a ball off his right leg, knows he's needed more than ever because of the recent spate of injuries. "It's really nice to get a couple of hits and contribute," Burrell said. "You're trying to do your part every day, and it's tough when you're not. It can feel like you're not here. Guys have picked me up, and now we have guys who are hurt. We have to pick up the slack." Manager Charlie Manuel said he's noticed a difference in Burrell's approach and his ability to drive low pitches. "He's got a little bit of a rock [when he's getting ready]," Manuel said. "I call that spending nervous energy. That's getting ready to hit and staying loose. One of the biggest things is sometimes he gets real stiff in his knees and his hips. You have to be relaxed." Funny, you don't look hurt: Chase Utley took part in running drills Wednesday, and fielded grounders -- without throwing. He said his surgically repaired fourth metacarpal isn't "too bad" and he ices it every few hours, then mobilizes it with a brace when needed. He has an appointment on Aug. 7 with team doctor Michael Ciccotti and hand specialist Randall Culp. In a perfect world, Utley will be cleared to grip a bat and start hitting, with an eye toward returning a week after that. "I'll know more then," Utley said. On his fielding, Utley said, "It was something to do. I'm trying to stay loose, trying to keep my legs in shape. Anything I can do to stay prepared." Older and wiser? When the Phillies demoted Chris Roberson to the Minors on March 12 -- one of 14 players sent out after the first round of cuts -- this is what assistant general manager, scouting and player development Mike Arbuckle had to say: "I see him making mistakes he made three and four years ago. He can't continue to do that. It's a matter of focus and consistency. He's got an opportunity to come back [to the Minors] and play every day. He can play in the big leagues, but there comes a point where he has to show us he's ready, or show 29 other clubs that he's ready. We feel like some guys have outplayed him over here and realistically, he's not in the hunt to make that 25th spot." That's not something a 27-year-old, who spent 57 games in the Major Leagues the season before, likes to hear.
"That was a shock, but part of the game," Roberson said. "Sometimes the cards don't play in your favor. Personally, I had a little pouting time, but I got it out of my system. The ball's in my court now. OK, let's see what I can do."Roberson got off to a rocking start in Tuesday's loss, going 4-for-4 with an RBI and a stolen base. He earned himself another start on Wednesday. "[When they sent me down], they told [me] to play baseball the right way, make my cutoffs, be in the right position and be heads-up all the time," Roberson said. "In Spring Training, I probably wasn't doing that as much as I should've been. Every now and then I need a wakeup call. It hit me pretty hard. "It taught me a lot and grounded me even more. I have to appreciate where you're at when you have a chance to be there and you have to take advantage of every chance you get." Bourn mending slowly: With his left ankle wrapped and propped on a chair and crutches at his side, Michael Bourn tried not to stare at his misfortune. "I can't even look at it because it's so swollen," Bourn said. "I don't how it's going to be ready in two weeks." While Bourn said he hopes to be off crutches later this week, and resume workouts shortly after, he promises not to try and rush back. He knows he could miss at least three weeks. "Hopefully, in a few days. I'll know a lot more when I get to move around," Bourn said. "I won't go out there until it's at least 95 [percent]. Still, it could have been worse. It was a bad experience and I learned from it." The main thing Bourn learned? "That there's a mound there [by the right-field line]," he said. Philling in: Though he doesn't have to think about it yet, Manuel said that playing third base is an option for Tadahito Iguchi when Utley returns. He said Iguchi will probably take grounders there. "You have to watch him take ground balls, see how he reacts," Manuel said. "He's played mostly second the last two or three years. I'd like to see how he throws and how he reacts. It's a reaction more than a range." Coming up: The Phillies unwrap their latest acquisition in Thursday's series finale vs. the Cubs at 2:20 p.m. ET. Kyle Lohse takes over for J.D. Durbin in the rotation. The right-hander won his final outing with Cincinnati, and will be pitching for the first time in eight days. He is 1-1 with a 3.63 ERA in three career starts vs. Chicago.
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.