06/05/10 7:45 PM ET
Ceremony honors Halladay's perfecto
By Zach Schonbrun / MLB.com
No, it wasn't a new Corvette like Detroit pitcher Armando Galarraga received on Thursday for his near-perfect game. No, it wasn't a ring or a watch.
It was a bass fishing trip with famed angler Skeet Reese, and Halladay seemed like he couldn't have been happier.
Halladay was joined on the field by his wife, Brandy, and their two sons, as well as Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz, who presented Halladay with the pitching rubber from Sun Life Stadium in Florida.
Then, in a video message on the scoreboard, Reese offered Halladay the opportunity to come fishing with him in his favorite spots in California. Reese won the 2009 Bassmaster Classic and was the 2007 Angler of the Year.
The fishing trip seemed to fit Halladay's personality far better than a flashy car.
Return of Lidge brings order to bullpen
PHILADELPHIA -- When Brad Lidge shut down the Padres with a 1-2-3 ninth inning on Friday -- earning his second save of the year, and the first since he returned from the disabled list on May 31 -- it did more than give Philadelphia a 3-2 win.
It proved Lidge's viability in the closer's role, something the Phillies have been waiting for all season, and a move that enables the rest of the bullpen to fall into order.
"We're getting a chance to organize our bullpen, whereas before we were going on mix-and-match and feel," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said.
Though right-hander Ryan Madson remains on the DL with a broken toe, the combination of relievers Jose Contreras, Chad Durbin, J.C. Romero and Danys Baez should be enough to serve as Lidge's setup men. Manuel wouldn't say who was definitely going to fill the team's seventh- and eighth-inning roles, but Durbin and Contreras seem to be the two primary candidates.
On Friday, Contreras began the eighth and was replaced by the left-hander Romero, who got out of a bases-loaded jam.
"Last night we liked matchups," Manuel said. "And once we put Romero in the game, he had to pitch to a couple right-handed hitters, because we still had in mind to use him against [Adrian] Gonzalez and [Chase] Headley."
Lidge has had two DL stints already this season, and has had two cortisone shots to his right elbow that he had surgically repaired in the offseason. But in his first appearance at home since May 9, he did a lot to prove he belongs back in the ninth inning.
"I think it helps him a lot, he realizes that," Manuel said. "It shows him that when he feels good his stuff is still there and his ability is still there."
Having Contreras pushed down to a setup role isn't a bad option either. The 39-year-old is fifth in the National League with a 1.06 ERA as a reliever this season, including a 12 1/3-inning scoreless streak before he gave up a run in Atlanta on Wednesday.
Manuel wants Howard playing every day
PHILADELPHIA -- Phillies manager Charlie Manuel may not be giving first baseman Ryan Howard a day off any time soon, despite the fact Howard is mired in a slump that has seen his average drop 31 points since May 18.
"I want him to play," Manuel said.
Howard is batting .163 with one extra-base hit over the past 12 games, and while he has played every inning of the season so far, Manuel wasn't inclined to say whether he would be giving Howard a break, as he has done with other starters.
"We'll see," Manuel said. "If we think he needs a day off, we'll give him a day off."
"He can handle it," Manuel added. "He's always been able to handle playing every day. He wants to play every day."
Howard has nine home runs and 35 RBIs on the season entering Saturday's game -- the lowest totals he has had this late in the year since 2005. His average, though, was .311 on May 18 before the slump knocked it down to its current .280.
"The object is to put the best team on the field to get a chance to win, that's how I look at it," Manuel said.
Francisco, Dobbs remember Wooden
PHILADELPHIA -- When Ben Francisco was an outfielder for the University of California-Los Angeles, he and his teammates had an opportunity to meet legendary basketball coach John Wooden one day at practice.
It was a moment that has stuck with Francisco, now an outfielder with the Phillies. He was saddened when he found out Friday night about Wooden's passing, at the age of 99.
"He lived a great life," Francisco said. "I think he's in a better place now."
Wooden, who coached UCLA basketball to a record 10 NCAA Championships and was one of the iconic figures in American sports, was a legend on the UCLA campus even decades after he retired, when Francisco was a student there.
"He was there a lot," Francisco said. "He was a legend there. I'd see him at basketball games. Everybody hears about him. He was one of a kind, that's for sure."
Phillies utility man Greg Dobbs grew up in Los Angeles and said he was extremely upset when he found out Saturday morning about Wooden.
Dobbs didn't grow up a big UCLA fan, and he played for the University of Oklahoma. But he understood what Wooden meant to the L.A. community and the sports community as a whole.
"It was the passing of a legend," Dobbs said. "Someone who led a very prestigious and honorable life on the court and behind closed doors as well. It's a sad day."
Zach Schonbrun is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.