Notes: Lieberthal on the mend

Notes: Lieberthal on the mend

MILWAUKEE -- The concerned look on Mike Lieberthal's face said it all on Sunday, as he anticipated his MRI scheduled for the following day.

Those concerns were valid.

The MRI confirmed what team doctor Michael Ciccotti anticipated, a significant bone bruise and a minimal, stable fracture of the bone. All muscle, tendons and ligaments are intact.

The 34-year-old Lieberthal was eligible to come off the disabled list on Saturday, but will be out at least 10 more days, and possibly two weeks.

"Once the soreness goes out of his knee, and he heals, it should be fine," said manager Charlie Manuel."

Manuel was relieved that the MRI didn't show something more serious.

While Lieberthal recovers, Manuel will rely on the tandem of Sal Fasano and Carlos Ruiz, though the pendulum appears to have swung in Fasano's favor.

Fasano was paired with Cory Lidle in the series opener against Milwaukee for the first time this season, having worked exclusively with Jon Lieber and Gavin Floyd. Manuel said he liked Fasano's chances better against lefty Chris Capuano, though it should be noted that Lidle suffered his shortest outing since 1999 throwing to Ruiz.

The rookie Ruiz has been struggling offensively, having gone 2-for-19 since his call up from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Fasano has a .294 average in May.

"You have to be prepared to play every day," Fasano said. "You still have to do your homework, study the hitters and figure out how to get guys out because you never know when you're going to have to come in for defense. That's why this game is so hard. It's not the physical anguish, it's the mental preparation for each day. It can wear on you."

Physically, Fasano said he's fine.

"I'm a bull," he said.

Though he understands the backup catcher credo, Fasano had his best run last season for Baltimore, while filling in for Javy Lopez. With regular time, he might find a similar rhythm. Other than his recent stretch, he hadn't done much since belting a home run in his first start of the season.

"You hit a home run your first day, and you think you can hit one every day, which is stupid," Fasano said. "It's just a matter of time. Hitting is just surviving til you get hot. Hopefully, I can get hot."

As for Ruiz: Manuel said he's liked what he's seen from Ruiz over the past two weeks.

"So far, I like everything he's done," Manuel said. His defense is good. At the plate, he's trying too hard. He's trying to impress with the bat. Once he gets relaxed, he'll get better."

Added Fasano: "I think he has a chance to be an everyday catcher. The toughest thing is to separate hitting from catching. Worry about defense first and that's what he's done. That's the most important thing to me."

At some point, everyone must hit though, Fasano conceded.

"When you're a defensive specialist and you don't hit, there's always a spot for you in Triple-A," Fasano said.

Shill-less weekend: Curt Schilling won't pitch in Philadelphia this weekend, likely disappointing a legion of his fans.

Though Sunday would've been Schilling's fifth day, manager Terry Francona opted for lefty Lenny DiNardo. The reasons were two-fold: DiNardo is a ground ball pitcher, and this allows Schilling to open a three-game series on Monday, vs. the Yankees.

Schilling has pitched in Philadelphia twice since being traded during the 2000 season, the last time coming on May 14, 2003, when he struck out 14 in a two-hit shutout. He's never pitched at Citizens Bank Park.

Quotable: "If we get somebody sick, we'll play 'em." -- Manuel, on Jon Lieber and Ryan Howard, who were both ill this weekend. Lieber came within five outs of a perfect game on Saturday, while Howard hit two home runs on Sunday.

Philling in: Bobby Abreu returned to the lineup after missing two games with back spasms. Though he hates being out of the lineup, he said the rest helped. ... Howard sliced an RBI single off lefty Capuano on Tuesday, his third straight hit off a lefty. Howard is hitting .303 against southpaws.

Coming up: Floyd has been much improved over his past three outings, compiling a 2.04 ERA during that span. He tossed five shutout innings in a rain-shortened game against the Mets on May 11, and was saved by Aaron Rowand's spectacular catch in center field. The right-hander has never faced the Brewers.

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