Notes: Utley to begin rehab stint Friday
All-Star second baseman aiming to be activated Monday
PHILADELPHIA -- Chase Utley's accelerated path toward a lineup return became clearer, when the team announced that their All-Star will begin a rehabilitation assignment with Double-A Reading.Utley is scheduled to play in both games of Friday's double-header vs. Akron, playing second base in game one and designated hitter in game two. If all goes well, he'll man second base on Saturday. Utley, out since July 26 with a broken fourth metacarpal on his right hand, could be activated as early as Sunday, for the final game of the series against San Diego. If he returns that day, it would be exactly one month after being hit by a pitch from Washington's John Lannan.
He'll be joined Friday by Adam Eaton, who is scheduled to start the first game on Friday, and throw 40 pitches. Eaton called it an "extended side session," and it puts him on target to potentially start Tuesday against the Mets.Reading fans may remember Eaton's R-Phils debut on June 22, 1999, when the then prospect threw a no-hitter against Norwich, but lost, 1-0. Manuel, Reuss recall beaning: At least six of Charlie Manuel's teeth lay on the ground after Jerry Reuss' up-and-in fastball smashed into Manuel's mouth. The Phillies skipper remembers the pitch also breaking his nose and cheekbone, not a pretty sight. "My lip was over my eye," Manuel said. "When they took me to the hospital that night, the nurse told me not to look in the mirror. So I looked and saw my lip over my eye. It was that big, if you can believe that." Reuss did. The two can now joke about the pitch that wrecked Manuel's smile in 1967, when Manuel played for the Wisconsin Rapids, a Twins affiliate, and Reuss was a rookie with Cedar Rapids, Iowa, then a Cardinals affiliate. "I threw a pitch up and in, got his lip," said Reuss, in town as a member of the Dodgers' broadcast team. "I was 18, just out of high school, and just let a high fastball go. That's still scary. You don't want to be on the giving or the receiving end. I guess he's forgiven me. I got him good." Turns out Manuel got Reuss good, too, which sheds more light on the story. As Manuel remembers it, he homered off him in the previous at-bat, "shot him real good, so in the next at-bat, [he came up and in]." Reuss, who would go on to win 220 games in a 22-year big league career, tried to back Manuel off the plate and came too far in. A shot to the face would typically cause a player to miss significant time. Not Manuel. "I missed one game," he said, proudly. "The game I came back, I hit a homer to center field my first time up. When my lip went down below my eye, I played." Branyan pulling for Georgia: Russell Branyan hasn't forgotten. The Phillies infielder often perched in front of the television watching his former team compete for a World Series championship, and it's not the Padres, Brewers or Indians. Branyan is following the Warner Robins American Little League quest for glory in the 2007 Little League World Series at Williamsport, Pa. Warner Robins reached the semifinals by downing Walpole, Mass., 8-1, behind pitcher Dalton Carriker. "That kid can pitch," Branyan said. "They're plugging along. I'm pulling for them." Branyan, a Warner Robins, Ga., native, has strong ties to the area. He played for the squad for three years in the late 1980s, at shortstop and third base, but his teams got as far as the Southeast Regionals. One of his former neighbors is one of the team's coaches. Branyan recently called to offer support, and told his friend "to give the kids a break. Some of these coaches are hard on these kids. We had fun when we played." Branyan also shipped a case of Oakley sunglasses for the players, duplicating a gift sent by Atlanta's Chipper Jones for last year's squad. "They haven't had a chance to wear them yet because it's been raining there," Branyan said. "Hopefully, they'll have other chances." If Warner Robins wins it all, it'll complete a three-year run in which a team from Georgia took the championship, a fact of which Branyan was well aware. "Oh yeah," he said. "That would be nice." Castro down, Sanches up: After allowing one run in five innings in his first Major League start on Thursday, lefty Fabio Castro was optioned to Triple-A Ottawa. Righty Brian Sanches was called up and will rejoin the bullpen.
Philling in: Outfielder Shane Victorino sat out Thursday, a day after playing nine innings in his first game since returning from the disabled list. It's part of Manuel's idea to work Victorino in slowly, a plan that is supported by Jayson Werth's .304 batting average with three homers during Victorino's absence. ... Righty Scott Mathieson (right elbow ligament replacement surgery) threw two innings in a rehab start for Class A Clearwater on Wednesday, allowing one hit and one walk while striking out two. ... Jose Mesa plans to ditch his old theme song again. He had requested Bryan Adams' "Summer of '69" to play him into his appearances, like during his first tour with the Phillies. But after finally getting, and pitching poorly, Mesa is getting rid of it. "I can't get no one out with that song," he said.Coming up: Jamie Moyer, who opposes the Padres' Greg Maddux in Friday's 7:05 p.m. ET series opener, was touched for eight runs (seven earned) on nine hits in four-plus innings in his last start on Saturday in Pittsburgh. The 44-year-old lefty took the loss, falling to 11-9.
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.