PHILADELPHIA -- Andrew Carpenter's baseball career had reached a crossroads in February, when the Phillies designated him for assignment.
He had been a former top prospect that made just five appearances the previous three seasons with the Phillies. He was a starter, but he knew the personnel in front of him -- Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt, Cole Hamels, Joe Blanton, Vance Worley and Kyle Kendrick -- meant opportunities to pitch in the big leagues would be slim.
So he moved into the bullpen. Carpenter, who replaced Ryan Madson on the 25-man roster Tuesday, was 5-0 with a 1.58 ERA in 24 appearances this season with Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He had allowed just 34 hits, nine walks and notched 51 strikeouts in 45 2/3 innings.
"I felt like I figured it out pretty quick," Carpenter said. "I like being able to somewhat play every day, I guess. There's always a chance I could pitch that day and help out the team more, and my arm feels way better relieving because of the shorter stints. I feel like my stuff got a lot better and a lot sharper."
Carpenter is throwing a fastball, slider and splitter these days. He tried a changeup and curveball when he started, but without much success. He doesn't have to worry about throwing them anymore.
"I don't want to at all," Carpenter said, asked if he would like to start again. "I like it right now."
Amaro's focus is on pitching, not offense
PHILADELPHIA -- The list of injured Phillies is a long one, and they are all pitchers: Roy Oswalt, Ryan Madson, Joe Blanton, Jose Contreras and Brad Lidge.
There is little more than a month before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, and the Phillies suddenly are thin in the rotation and bullpen. The focus since the beginning of the season has been the team's inconsistent offense and need for a right-handed bat, but general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. is thinking pitching.
"Everybody wants to talk about the offense, but to me, it's always about pitching," Amaro said Tuesday. "Those are things that win championships. If we were able to do some things in that area that would be great, but we're hopeful we'll get Contreras back and at some point, maybe Lidge as well."
Madson is eligible to be activated from the 15-day disabled list Monday, and the Phillies do not seem concerned about him.
- 131 wins
- 121 wins
Amaro said he thinks Oswalt, who is on the DL with lower back inflammation, could be back before August.
"I'm a little bit more optimistic than maybe some of the reports people are throwing out there about August," Amaro said. "A lot of that will depend on how he feels as he goes."
Blanton could throw a bullpen session Monday. He could be back in August. Contreras could be back in August, too.
"If those guys get back, I feel pretty comfortable about our club," Amaro said.
Bastardo gets first crack as Phils' closer job
PHILADELPHIA -- Phillies left-handed reliever Antonio Bastardo has never been a closer before.
He also had no idea Ryan Madson was placed on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday before the start of a three-game series against the Red Sox.
Time to just roll with it.
"OK, I take the chance," Bastardo said. "I'm ready for that and see what happens."
Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said Bastardo will get the first crack at filling in for Madson, who is eligible to come off the disabled list July 4.
Michael Stutes is another candidate to pitch the ninth, depending if a right-handed matchup presents itself.
"They passed all the tests," Manuel said. "They deserve to get a chance."
Stutes has talked with Madson and Brad Lidge about preparing for the closer's role. He was told to block out the score and baserunners and zero in on getting the batter out.
"It's just like any other inning though," said Stutes, who had closed some for Triple-A Lehigh Valley. "Whether you get three outs in the ninth, three outs in the eighth, three outs in the seventh, it's still three outs."
Madson can only rest his bruised right hand. He received a cortisone shot on Friday, but fluids started running into his hand and affecting his nerves.
Manuel hoped to have him back by the Red Sox series.
Now, it'll be at least another week.
"I don't think that's going to kill us," Manuel said.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. Nate Mink is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.