Notes: Rain spoils Tejeda's outing

Notes: Rain delay spoils Tejeda's outing

LAKELAND, Fla. -- A wet towel covered Robinson Tejeda's head while he slowly drifted down the first-base line toward the visitors' clubhouse.

A day in which the right-hander could've impressed the Phillies' decision-makers instead turned into a soggy, short afternoon.

"I don't get mad at that," said Tejeda, half-smiling. "God can do whatever he wants. You can never fight it. If He wants me to throw one pitch or one inning, it's His decision."

Tejeda tossed just one inning before rain drenched Joker Marchant Stadium, halting the game for 44 minutes. That was enough to prevent Tejeda from getting in his full amount of work. He threw roughly 15 pitches instead of the planned 45.

Normally, this wouldn't be a big deal, but for a guy with limited chances this spring, it is a big deal.

"I don't have that much opportunity to prepare as I would have thought in the beginning [of the spring]," Tejeda said. "I have to get ready as soon as I can. It's hard to be in this situation."

Tejeda was in the unfortunate situation of having pitched just two innings for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic, and he hasn't gotten fully stretched out since. The Phillies shifted scheduled starter Ryan Madson to a Minor League game so they could get a better look at Tejeda.

The right-hander issued a four-pitch walk to Placido Polanco, but erased him on a double play, then got Dmitri Young to bounce out to first.

The rain came after the Phillies batted in the top of the second, and Tejeda was told he was finished when the delay reached 35 minutes.

"The rain got us," said manager Charlie Manuel. "[It lasted] too long to send him back out there. I didn't want to take a chance. He was going to go at least two, maybe three [innings]. It's a bad break, but we have time to get him back out there and get him ready."

Tejeda can only hope.

"I don't know what's going on," he said. "I'm not going to put depression in my mind. ... I have to make the most of the opportunity that they've given to me. That's all I can do."

Booking it: Chris Booker stepped onto a mound for his first Grapefruit League action on Thursday and found it tough to get himself off it.

Booker received quite the workout in pitching the third inning in Philadelphia's 8-7 loss. The adventure started with a four-pitch walk to Curtis Granderson, then he allowed a double to Vance Wilson and an opposite-field single to Polanco.

Two strikeouts followed, giving Booker his peak, then a hit batter, walk, and two-run single sent him to the valley. His outing ended with a fly to center field.

"I did everything," Booker said. "I gave up two singles, a double, hit a guy, walked a guy and struck out a guy. The only thing I didn't do was give up a home run."

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Still, Booker is pitching again and trying to show the Phillies that he belongs on the 25-man roster. If not, the 29-year-old will have to be offered back to the Nationals, since he was taken in the Rule 5 Draft.

"I tried to make up for lost time instead of trying to throw strikes," said Booker, who started late this spring while recovering from offseason surgery on his left knee. "I have to give everything I got. I can't have outings like that and expect to make this team.

"It was my first time in a Major League game all spring, so I was pumped to get out there and face hitters. I guess I was trying to do too much with my pitches, and you can't do that."

Pitching coach Rich Dubee visited Booker during his outing, and Manuel had some reassuring words for the pitcher.

"That didn't hurt him today," Manuel said. "I'll look at him more. If we see him two or three times, we'll get a better idea of what he can do."

That's all Booker can ask for.

"It's time to go out and pitch and give them a reason to keep me," he said.

Hamels to Clearwater: Not wanting to take unnecessary chances with left-hander Cole Hamels, the Phillies announced Thursday that their top pitching prospect will start the season at Class A Clearwater.

He hasn't officially been reassigned, so he can stay in big-league camp to continue his pitching and back exercises.

The southpaw said recently that he hoped to start the season "somewhere in Pennsylvania," referring to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, but settling for Double-A Reading, where he was last season before getting hurt.

The decision was made as a way of keeping Hamels and his balky back in a more controlled Florida temperature. He could be promoted soon, assuming he stays healthy and pitches well. He has started twice at the Minor League complex, but the important thing is that his back has been pain-free.

"It has nothing to do with ability," said Mike Arbuckle, the team's assistant general manager of scouting and player development. "Because of weather and bus rides, we thought it made sense to start him in warm weather and where there are very limited bus rides. We don't anticipate him being there a long time."

Assuming Hamels stays healthy and effective, Arbuckle said he could wind up at Reading or Scranton/Wilkes-Barre as early as May.

"It's a possibility," Arbuckle said, of Scranton, "but he's got to pitch. He's had no back issues at all, but it doesn't make sense to send him to Reading. Scranton opens in Columbus [Ohio]. As far as he's come, it makes no sense to throw him back into a cold-weather, long-bus trip situation."

Hello, Placido: Polanco bounded through the Tigers clubhouse on Thursday, after a few moments of saying hello to some former teammates in red pinstripes.

Things have gone well for Polanco since his trade to Detroit in June. He batted .338 with the Tigers, and signed a four-year, $18.4 million extension in August. He went from an unhappy part-timer in Philadelphia to a content everyday player.

"I'm more comfortable," he said. "I got a chance to play every day at the same position, then signed for four years, so what else could I [ask for]? I was able to relax. When you're a backup, if you hit .260 or .270, you're great. If you hit .300, you're crazy. It's hard to come off the bench and hit."

That said, Polanco batted .316 with the Phillies at the time of the trade, playing second, third and left field. Manuel got him at-bats whenever he could, but that didn't satisfy Polanco.

The trade came with the usual mixed emotions, as Polanco got his chance to play every day, but was leaving teammates with whom he had grown close. He said he occasionally followed the Phillies' playoff run, and joked about the reason he was pulling for them to win.

"Of course, especially because I had money [coming to me]," Polanco said. "I was hoping for them to go to the playoffs, because I wanted a full [playoff] share. Of course, I wanted them to win. Once [the Tigers] were out, I wanted them to win the World Series."

At the Carpenter Complex: Though they might not have had to take the bus ride to Lakeland, several Phillies got their work in at the team's Minor League complex.

In an intrasquad game, Madson missed the 44-minute rain delay and allowed two runs -- one earned -- in six innings. He gave up three hits and a walk and struck out four. The righty threw 79 pitches, a high for him this spring.

Tomas Perez played left field and went 2-for-5 with two runs and a stolen base. Pat Burrell, who has missed time with a sore right foot and a thigh strain, served as the designated hitter, and went 3-for-6 with a walk, a double and a homer and drove in four runs.

David Bell also continued to inch toward a possible Grapefruit League debut, playing in his fourth straight Minor League game. Bell went 3-for-5 with a walk and scored two runs.

Philling in: Ryan Howard smacked his 10th homer of the spring, breaking Dick Allen's unofficial record of nine, set in 1964. He was fittingly wearing a T-shirt that depicted home run king Hank Aaron. ... Righty Aquilino Lopez, vying for a bullpen spot, didn't help his cause by surrendering three runs in an inning, on three hits and two walks. ... Righty Julio Santana turned in two perfect innings on Thursday, against Detroit, while lefty Rheal Cormier struck out two in two scoreless frames. ... Chase Utley and Shane Victorino also homered on Thursday, and Philadelphia has homered in all 22 of its Grapefruit League games.

Coming up: Eude Brito gets his first starting audition on Friday against the Pirates at 7:05 p.m. ET in Clearwater. The lefty is trying to shake off rust from having pitched sparingly in the Classic, and has thrown just 2 2/3 innings this spring for the Phils.

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