Notes: Bell expects to play Saturday

Notes: Bell expects to play Saturday

PHILADELPHIA -- Blame this on the media.

David Bell missed his second straight game Friday with back spasms. He felt tightness on Thursday when he bent over to pick up a magazine.

"I wasn't even going to read it," he said. "I was just moving things around, organizing."

Bell said he's feeling much better than he felt Thursday, but understood the precautionary extra day to heal. He expects to play on Saturday.

"I guess because of the history of my back, waiting until [Saturday] is probably the better decision," he said. "How I feel now compared to how I felt then is 100 times better. It was painful at the time. It turns out it wasn't that big a deal."

The discomfort was similar to what cost Bell eight games in August last season, when he hurt himself on a swing. Still, Bell hasn't been on the disabled list in two years, and doesn't plan to break that streak.

"But it's not as bad [as last season], not even close," said Bell. "At first I thought it was."

Geary heads to DL: Objects are still a little blurry for Geoff Geary, so the Phillies placed the reliever on the 15-day disabled list on Friday.

The move is retroactive to July 9 -- the day Geary fouled a ball off his right eye -- so the right-hander is eligible to be activated on July 24. To replace Geary, the Phillies have recalled infielder Danny Sandoval from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Sandoval was hitting .355 with six homers for the Red Barons.

"You only got two eyes, so it's best to take care of it as best as possible," he said. "I want to play, but if this is a situation that can possibly help me, that's what I have to do."

The Phillies didn't have a choice after Geary saw a specialist on Friday. When he closes his good eye, he sees "floaters" and objects are blurry. Last week, he said he couldn't read players names on lockers across the room.

The original plan was that he would be out a week or so, but it's better to be safe.

"It's getting progressively better as I go," he said. "I'm able to see. That's good news."

Thome watch: The Jim Thome trade watch entered its second day Friday, and all parties involved again had very little to say.

"Obviously, when you get close to the deadline, things like that come up," Thome said. "I don't know anything about it, but I guess the way baseball is. It's a business. You guys [in the media] probably know more about it than I do."

What Thome knows is that he wasn't in the starting lineup for the Phillies on Friday, the day he was supposed to be activated from the disabled list. He fielded grounders, but didn't take batting practice. His return date remains unclear.

"I'm trying to get healthy and get back," said Thome, who will likely need a rehabilitation assignment. "Probably within the next few days, I'll get back after it. Everything is coming along good. We just have to continue the treatment and when it's ready, we'll go. An exact date, I don't know. We're trying to get over the hump here."

The fact that Thome would rather discuss his injury than his possible trade speaks volumes. His substitute, Ryan Howard, isn't a big fan of the topic, either.

"I don't really pay any attention to it," said Howard. "People are going to say what they're going to say. You just have to go out and handle your business and play, and not focus on all of that. It takes away from what you are here to do."

Thome's health puts the Phillies in an unenviable spot when it comes to trading Howard, who is viewed as the team's biggest commodity. General manager Ed Wade has said before that pitching is a priority, and Howard might be used to acquire help for the staff.

But Thome needs to come back first and show that his health issues are behind him -- all by July 31.

"I don't want something like [trading Thome] to necessarily happen," said manager Charlie Manuel. "I think you'll always have talk, but I know nothing about that."

Coming up: Jon Lieber hasn't won since June 7, going 0-5 with a 6.44 ERA in his previous six starts. Eager to put his frustrating first half behind him, he'll oppose Florida rookie Scott Olsen on Saturday night.

Lieber's final outing before the break was solid, as he limited the Nationals to three runs over six innings.

Ken Mandel is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.