Sunday, August 1, 2010

Black cats and broken mirrors

Beware, Jayson Werth.

Make sure security keeps an extra eye out for black cats trying to dart across the outfield. Always have some salt handy in your locker to throw over your shoulder before every game. Don't shave off the beard until after the season is over.

The injury bug has now struck every starter in the Phillies lineup this season except for the whiskered right fielder, and the way he's been hitting lately, we can't afford to lose him. Raul Ibanez went down yesterday after hurting his wrist on a slide, and Ryan Howard had to be helped off the field in today's game after spraining his ankle trying to scurry back to second base. It's just one ailment after another and it's getting too hard to remember which players are healthy.

Through all the Phillies' ups and downs, one guy who will remember 2010 as the highlight of his career is Wilson Valdez. He's played almost a full season up to this point, lending his defensive talents in place of Jimmy Rollins, Placido Polanco and Chase Utley. Though his .237 average as a starter is a poor substitution, his bunt single in the 11th inning of today's game in Washington sparked a hurting club to a 6-4 win. He risked an injury himself by sliding into first, but we'll excuse him for that.

The only problem is Howard was the only player who had not only avoided injury all year, but had also been hitting well consistently. I'm fearful as to how the offense will respond if he has to go on the DL. My own experience tells me such a trip is inevitable. During my sophomore year of college, I sprained my ankle in a volleyball class. I was walking fine after just two days, but I didn't play again for two weeks. The Phillies need Howard down the stretch more than anyone else, so they're not going to rush him back.

A nice trip home would be a good prescription for this team, but it still has a three-game series in Florida to get through. The Marlins are just as scrappy as the Nationals, so it could be a long journey to Friday without the big man in the middle of the order.

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