Notes: Victorino arrives in Majors

Notes: Victorino arrives in Majors

NEW YORK -- Shane Victorino walked out of the Carpenter Complex in Spring Training as a player uncertain about his future.

He returned as the International League's Most Valuable Player. It was that kind of year for the speedy switch-hitter.

"I never would've thought anything close to that [would happen]," he said.

Victorino put together his best professional season with the Triple-A Red Barons, hitting .310 with 18 homers and 70 RBIs. Thirteen of those homers came in the canyon-esque Lackawana County Stadium. He also stroked 26 doubles, 16 triples and stole 17 bases.

For that, he earned his first September callup.

"I'm definitely excited to have the opportunity to get called up," he said. "That means I've had a successful year. Getting my at-bats [in Triple-A], that's where it clicked."

Selected for the second time in the annual Rule 5 Draft -- this time by the Phillies -- Victorino pressed through a miserable Spring Training and was offered back to the Dodgers for $25,000, or half the cost of selecting him.

When the Dodgers didn't want him, the Phillies offered him a Triple-A contract, and Victorino accepted.

"The fact that he agreed to go down and play for us showed he wanted to play for the organization," said Phillies manager Charlie Manuel. "He could have gone somewhere else, but he played all year. People in our organization felt because of how well he was playing, it would be good for him to stay down there and gain more experience down the road."

Though it's too early to tell, Victorino may have played his way into the center-field picture for the Phillies next season. Kenny Lofton is a free agent, and the Phillies seem to like Jason Michaels more in a platoon role.

That could work well with the switch-hitting Victorino.

For now, Victorino and the Phillies will worry about September.

"I'm pretty excited for these guys," he said. "I've watched them all year and hopefully they'll keep it up. I think they're going to make the playoffs, and I'll be a part of it and get to enjoy the ride."

But isn't he tired after a long season with the Red Barons?

"It doesn't matter," he said. "The adrenaline will take over, I think."

Other scenarios: Victorino arrived with five other callups at 8 a.m. ET this morning from Rochester, N.Y.

Catcher A.J. Hinch gives Manuel the option of using Todd Pratt as a pinch-hitter, since Hinch would be available as the backup. Though Hinch had a solid offensive year at Triple-A, he likely won't see too many at-bats.

"With [Mike] Lieberthal hitting good, that kind of changes the thought about the catching," Manuel said. "Lieberthal's been aggressive and hitting the ball hard. We can play a lot more situations. This gives us a strong bench."

Matt Kata will back up the infield, while Geoff Geary and Pedro Liriano will spell the bullpen.

Manuel said the five extra players -- six, when Gavin Floyd arrives next week -- is more than enough.

"I don't want too many players," he said. "The more guys who don't play, that becomes a controversial thing. I was a benchwarmer for most of my career -- you get angry when you don't play. If you don't [get angry] there's something wrong with you."

Determination: When you're a closer with 237 career saves, nights like Tuesday are going to happen.

So when Ugueth Urbina gave up a game-winning homer to Ramon Castro in the eighth inning, the important thing was not to dwell. Considering his two perfect innings with four strikeouts over the past two games, that doesn't appear to be the case.

"Always," Urbina said. "I come the next day ready to pitch and do my job. You want to bounce back as quickly as you can."

Urbina hasn't given up a run in back-to-back outings since June 25, when he did it in three straight, and has given up runs in only 10 of his 40 appearances.

He's also not fazed by the heavy workload put on him by Manuel.

"That's why they brought me here," he said. "That's my job. Every time they need me, I'll be there ready. Every year I expect to pitch in 50 percent of the games."

Big man, big stick: Ryan Howard hit his first career homer at Shea Stadium on Sept. 11, 2004, a majestic shot over the 410-foot sign in center field.

His latest homer was even more impressive. It traveled to left-center field and bounced off a camera platform.

"I wasn't thinking about a home run. I was 0-for-3 and looking for grass," he said.

Instead he found a lot of air.

The home run was well timed, and provided some necessary breathing room. Scoring one run off Billy Wagner is tough enough, but two isn't likely.

"He's a big man with big power," said Manuel. "I like to manaufacture runs, I talk about that all the time, but one big swing sometimes ... That right there will get you fat without eating."

Philling In: In order to make room for Victorino and Hinch on the 40-man roster, the Phillies designated right-hander Clay Condrey and third baseman Juan Richardson for assignment. ... Left-hander Rheal Cormier is still day-to-day with a strained left shoulder. ... David Bell leads all active Major Leaguers in at-bats without a grand slam. He's been to the plate 126 times with the bases loaded, and hasn't connected. Bell had a two-run run single with the bases loaded in the first inning on Thursday.

Coming up: Vicente Padilla will get the call Friday as the Phillies open a three-game set with the Nationals in Washington, D.C. Padilla had a rough night on Sunday against the Diamondbacks, giving up six earned runs in his three innings. He issued four walks, three of which came ahead of Shawn Green's ninth career grand slam in the third.

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