Valdez trying to stick around with Phillies
Rollins' upcoming return could signal journeyman's departure
MIAMI -- Phillies infielder Wilson Valdez has played for nine organizations, been back and forth between the Minor and Major Leagues more times than he can count and even had a stint in Japan. So the Dominican Republic native is used to drastic change.
But Valdez is playing like a guy who wants to stick around.
The 32-year-old was back in the No. 2 hole and playing shortstop for the second consecutive game on Saturday against the Marlins while Placido Polanco sat with a left elbow injury. Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said he likes hitting Valdez behind leadoff man Shane Victorino because it allows him to bunt and hit and run more often.
But Valdez's time may be running out.
Shortstop Jimmy Rollins (right calf) is expected to be activated off the 15-day disabled list as early as June 6, and at that point -- assuming Polanco's left elbow doesn't land him on the DL -- either Juan Castro or Valdez -- both out of options -- will likely have to be taken off the active roster.
"I don't think about that," Valdez said in Spanish. "What I have to think about is helping [the team], playing, doing my job, and for them to decide what they need to decide, because I can't control those things. The only things I control are the games they put me to play in. They have their plans, and they know what they have to do. Not me."
The last time Rollins was activated, it was Valdez (signed to a Minor League contract in November) who was designated for assignment, and Castro (signed to a $750,000 contract in December) who stayed.
But Valdez, who ended up clearing waivers and was outrighted to the Minors, is doing his part to make the potential decision tough this time around, batting .357 (10-for-28) with a .379 on-base percentage in his past seven games. On Friday, he went 2-for-4 and picked up his first Major League stolen base since 2007 -- a stat that shocked Victorino upon finding out.
"I put him out there because he has talent, he can run, he can handle the bat," Manuel said. "He was trying to hit that hole last night and hit that ball to right field, and that's the sign of a guy who knows how to play."
Manuel wants Kendrick to speed it up
MIAMI -- Cliff Lee may no longer be a member of Charlie Manuel's rotation, but the Phillies' skipper would like it if one of his current starters, Kyle Kendrick, were a bit more Lee-like.
Manuel talked after Saturday's game about how he wants Kendrick to "pick it up" in terms of the "flow of the game." The manager said Kendrick was taking too long to throw early in his outing -- making him seem "kind of timid" -- before settling in. Then he brought up Lee.
"You know Cliff Lee, one of his biggest things is? He gets the ball and throws it and he keeps you on your toes and the defense is always ready, and he keeps the game at his flow, his tempo and his speed," Manuel said. "[Jamie] Moyer can speed the game up and slow it down. But with Kyle, he's got to get more rhythm and stuff going. ... He likes to pitch, and he's got a chance to be a good pitcher, but he has to be a pitcher."
In the Phillies' 3-2 win on Friday, Kendrick needed 67 pitches to get through the first three innings -- and he made an errant throw to first base in the third that allowed both Marlins runs to score -- but he retired 10 of the last 11 batters he faced after getting a talk from Manuel in the dugout about tempo.
Kendrick said he wouldn't feel comfortable working as quickly as Lee, but establishing his own rhythm is something he's always trying to get a grasp of in his starts.
"Every game, you try to get in a rhythm," said Kendrick, who's 3-2 with a 5.04 ERA in 10 starts. "It might come in the first, it might come -- like last night -- in the third. It's getting better, but you just try to get in a rhythm as early as you can."
Phillies closer Brad Lidge (elbow inflammation) notched a strikeout while hurling a perfect seventh inning for Class A Clearwater on Saturday in Port St. Lucie, Fla. Lidge said Friday he hopes to make just one rehab appearance before calling a Monday return "very possible." ... The Phillies' recent stretch of 30 consecutive innings without scoring a run was the longest in team history since 1983, when the eventual National League champs went 42 consecutive frames from May 18-25, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Philadelphia snapped that rut in the fourth inning of Friday's 3-2 win over Florida, thanks to a Raul Ibanez triple that scored Ryan Howard from first base.
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.