Struggling Phils ’pen needs to turn corner

Charlie Manuel can find the silver lining in the darkest cloud. The Phillies’ skipper admits that his bullpen, save closer Jonathan Papelbon, has been the club’s albatross.

According to Manuel, the ‘pen has given away seven or eight games. However, Manuel is cautiously optimistic about his relief corps.

“I think things will get better there,” Manuel said. “We’ve got to get [Jake] Diekman and [Raul] Valdes in some games. I’m sure we’ll get that chance soon and we’ll see how they do. That could help.”

Diekman, who along with Valdes was called up from Lehigh Valley Friday, admits that he’ll have some butterflies prior to making his major- league debut.

“I hope I’m not too nervous when I go out there for the first time,” Diekman said. “I just hope to pitch like I’m capable of pitching.”

Manuel believes most of his relievers can get better, even Jose Contreras, with a 9.00 ERA.
“He [Contreras] has shown us that his stuff is there now and then,” Manuel said. “He just hasn’t been consistent. We still think we can get him right and pitch like he should.”

Ditto Antonio Bastardo.

“He’s better,” Manuel said. “He’s a little up in the strike zone. When he’s pitching good, his fastball is down and has good movement. He might need still need a little work. But I think we’re getting there.”


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