Notes: Brito waiting to make his debut

Notes: Brito waiting to make his debut

PHILADELPHIA -- Eude Brito comes to the park each day with the same thought:

"Today could be the day [I make my Major League debut]," he said. "My arm feels great. Of course, I'm ready to go."

The Brito watch reached its 12th day on Wednesday. The lefty was summoned from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Aug. 5 to be the long man out of the bullpen, but manager Charlie Manuel hasn't put him in a game yet.

He got close on Sunday in San Diego in an 8-1 game, but reliever Rheal Cormier allowed two runs in the eighth and Manuel went with Ryan Madson for the ninth.

Brito might get his chance Sunday, thanks to a rainout Tuesday that forced the Phillies to look for a spot starter.

"He's definitely a choice right now," said Manuel.

The other choices include Gavin Floyd, who's been good in his previous three outings with the Red Barons, or Jon Lieber, who would be pitching on three days' rest.

"We'll see where we're at," said pitching coach Rich Dubee. "He's stretched out. He's been throwing a lot [in the bullpen]. I have no qualms if it's him. That's why he's here. We tried to look for spots, but haven't been able to find one. Who knows? The best spot might be to start him in a big league game."

Decision time? This won't be the final time you'll read about the Jim Thome/Ryan Howard debate.

The question was posed to Manuel on Wednesday, regarding which slugging first baseman he'd keep over the winter, assuming that it was his choice to make.

On the one hand is Thome, the 35-year-old with an impressive resume and a big contract, who is coming off two injury-plagued seasons.

"Jimmy's got two or three good years left in the big leagues," Manuel said. "Big years. He's a hard enough worker, is dedicated and loves the game. He'll definitely rebound from this."

By big year, Manuel feels that 40 to 50 homers is within reach, with a .300 batting average.

On the other hand is Howard, the young slugger who resembles Thome in many ways, right down to his batting stance, with the bat pointed toward the fence. Nine years Thome's junior, Manuel thinks Howard will be hitting his stride in two or three years.

"Howard has a future," said Manuel. "Right now, he's holding his own for a rookie when you look at his home runs and hitting. He's definitely capable of [hitting 40 homers and driving in 120 runs]. He just has a nice easy swing and it goes a long way. When he does that consistently, he's going to produce."

So what's a general manager to do? At this point, nothing, as Ed Wade won't have to deal with this issue for at least a few months. And Howard has one Minor League option remaining, so an argument could be made to delay the decision another season.

Manuel, who has a father-son relationship with Thome, couldn't decide.

"I have to think that over," said Manuel. "Right now, I don't have to think about that, because we're in the mist of playing. After the season is over, I'll sit down and think about it. What Thome has done speaks for itself. I don't think his career is over by any means.

"When the day comes and we have to make a decision, it will be hard to turn Thome away. But at the same time, I've always said, you can't let your heart interfere with where you want to go. I'd say, 'Who's the best man?' Ryan Howard, where he's at right now, believe me, I'm happy with everything he's doing. But Thome's done it over a course of years. You got one guy coming and one guy getting older."

Manuel smiled when it was suggested that he lobby for a designated hitter in the National League.

"That would definitely work," he said.

Big star: Members of the 1995 Reading Phillies reunited Tuesday to celebrate the 10th anniversary of their Eastern League championship, the team's first baseball title in 22 years.

Their manager that year couldn't be there. Bill Dancy has a Major League gig.

One of the giveaways of the evening was a miniature statue of Dancy hoisting the championship trophy over his head.

"It's a probably a slimmer version of me," said Dancy, the Phils' third-base coach. "It's an honor. It will go at the sports bar in my house."

Dancy then deferred the credit to the players who helped bring home the flag, guys like Mike Grace, Kevin Sefcik, David Doster, Craig Holman, Rob Grable, Tommy Eason, Mike Juhl, Kent Blasingame and Chad McConnell.

There was also a guy named Scott Rolen, who played 20 games there that season.

"It's all the ballclub," said Dancy.

Dancy also took the opportunity to take a playful shot at his pitching coach from that season, broadcaster Larry Andersen. He remembered one game in which he sent Andersen out to talk to Grace.

"He goes out there and says, 'I look a lot better in my uniform than you look in yours.' It was a fun year."

Coming up: Vicente Padilla, who starts Game 1 of Thursday's day-night doubleheader, continues to be the team's best pitcher since a July 6 start against Pittsburgh.

The 1.94 ERA over a seven-start stretch is only clouded by the lack of run support that has kept Padilla from winning. He's 2-3 over that span.

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