Eyre, Romero moving toward returning
Phillies need healthy left-handers in bullpen for postseason
ATLANTA -- Phillies manager Charlie Manuel is so concerned about the health of his pitching staff with 16 games to play, particularly the health of his left-handers, he pulled rookie southpaw J.A. Happ for precautionary reasons after three innings in Friday's 9-4 win over the Braves.
While Happ is scheduled to make his next start, the Phillies took steps toward getting left-handers Scott Eyre and J.C. Romero back Saturday, when both looked good in bullpen sessions. Meanwhile, lefty Jack Taschner is in Clearwater, Fla., with a strained back.
Eyre, who has not pitched since Sept. 7 because of a loose body in his left elbow, said his elbow felt OK after the session. Romero, who hasn't pitched since July because of a strained left forearm, felt good enough that the Phillies got him a ticket to Clearwater so he can pitch for about a week in the instructional league.
Romero said he hopes to rejoin the team on Sept. 28 in Philadelphia for the final week of the season. Eyre hopes to return on Tuesday in Florida.
"I told them I'd be honest," Eyre said. "If I don't think I can go, I'll tell you I don't think I can go. I'm not going to screw anything up for the 25 other guys because I want to pitch. But if I feel like I can get outs, I'm going to say I can get outs. I'm hoping that's Tuesday."
Eyre will have to pitch with the loose body in his elbow the remainder of the season, which means he could be throwing through pain. He said he will have surgery after the season. Eyre has talked about retiring after the season, but he is 5-1 with a 1.70 ERA in 58 appearances since he joined the Phillies after an August 2008 trade with the Cubs.
He said there is a chance he could play next season, but only if the Phillies want him back.
"If they don't, then I don't think I'm going to play," Eyre said. "I'll stay at home and make the wife happy."
Romero is signed through next season, so he will return. Romero would like to be back on Tuesday, like Eyre. But because he hasn't pitched since July, the Phillies want him to face hitters. Romero knows he must, but he hates leaving the team again.
But the hope is both Eyre and Romero stay healthy enough to help them in the postseason, because right now, the club needs left-handers in the bullpen.
"I'm trying to see if I can pitch in the postseason," Eyre said. "That's the purpose of not having the surgery and pitching now."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.