SportsProf

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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Phillies' Injury Report: Jose Contreras to DL

The Phillies should be worried, because this is what can happen when you have baseball's oldest roster.

At the season's outset, closer Brad Lidge, age 34, goes on the DL with shoulder problems and we learn he's out until about the All-Star break. This is the last year of Lidge's contract, one that was earned in the midst of his spectacular 2008 season but that's been a roller-coaster ride ever since. Many fans believe that they won't see him in a Phillies' uniform again (and the wags think that the home for former Phillies, the Houston Astros, might be chomping at the bit for a Dollar Store-type of deal come this off-season).

Today, the back-up closer, the 39 year-old Jose Contreras, went on the DL with a strained shoulder. Michael Stutes, who pitched well last year and in spring training this year, was called up from AAA Lehigh Valley to replace him on the roster. Outstanding set-up man Ryan Madson will take Contreras' spot as closer, and here's to hoping that if Madson gets frustrated this year he pounds his glove as opposed to kicking a water cooler and ending up on the DL for two months (which is what happened last year).

About to be 34 year-old lefty set-up man J.C. Romero went on the DL about a week ago, and, again, fortunately the Phils could call up Mike Zagurski from AAA (Zagurski had a great year at Lehigh Valley last season). And 32 year-old second baseman Chase Utley has been on the DL since the season's outset with patellar tendinitis that resulted from his working out too much (ironically, in trying to be the most fit in order to fight Father Time's gravity pull, Utley showed even more of his age).

Phew! Last year, the Phillies were the walking wounded, and I recall one mid-summer lineup where the numbers 6 through 9 hitters were career minor-leaguer Dane Sardinha at catcher, Wilson Valdez at 2B, Juan Castro at SS and the pitcher. I think that the Phillies won some of those games, keeping them (miraculously) in the race. But that was last year, and that was somewhat fortunate, and you have to wonder if the Phillies can do the same thing again this year.

Because the way the season is trending, every player over 30 might spend some time on the DL.

Last year, some of them spent a lot of time on the DL, and some made repeat trips. It was a tribute to the team that they played so hard and so well, and that the back-ups showed an esprit de corps that was downright heroic. It's a gritty organization that uses all 27 outs, and the starting pitchers will keep them in many ball games.

But if you're a realist, all these early injuries have to bug you if not scare you.

So far, with the exception of Domonic Brown (who's very young), they're all to relievers. And, yes, teams do use about 16-20 pitchers each season. But most don't see three go to the DL before the end of April.

And those who do are usually not the ones who expect to go to the World Series.

And win it.

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