Notes: Henderson's arm in demand

Notes: Henderson's arm in demand

PHILADELPHIA -- When it comes to the Home Run Derby, Ramon Henderson has become one of the league's top pitching prospects.

The Phillies bullpen coach and seasoned batting practice pitcher gained recognition last year with his consistent deliveries to CENTURY 21 Home Run Derby champion and record-setter Bobby Abreu. Because of that, Phils slugger Ryan Howard selected him to be his pitcher in Monday's Derby at Pittsburgh's PNC Park.

"He's the defending BP pitcher champion," Howard said.

The word has gotten out. Red Sox slugger David Ortiz wants him too. Big Papi contacted the Phillies and personally requested Henderson to pitch to him as well.

Henderson, who like Ortiz is from the Dominican Republic, agreed.

"Of course," Henderson said. "The whole thing is for the fans."

Ortiz is competing in his third consecutive Derby, finishing second to Abreu in the first round last year, swinging at pitches from former Boston third-base coach Dale Sveum. Ortiz didn't perform as well in 2004 using batting practice pitcher Ino Guerrero.

Now he wants Henderson, who estimated that he threw about 150 pitches to Abreu last year, and will also pitch to Howard.

"The more the merrier," said Howard, who added that he doesn't feel slighted.

Howard laughed when asked if he instructed Henderson to pitch Ortiz differently, i.e., not give him anything good to hit, and agreed that Henderson would never go for that, anyway.

"I'm not going to play favorites," said Henderson, who pitched to Ortiz when he was a coach for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic. "This isn't about who's from Venezuela, who's from the Dominican, or who's from the U.S. This is about the fans enjoying it."

Asked if he was getting a hefty fee to pitch to Ortiz, Henderson laughed and said, "If you see me retired next year, you'll know why."

Looking toward the future: Howard, Chase Utley and Tom Gordon aren't the only Phillies heading to the All-Star Game.

Minor League pitchers Carlos Carrasco and Gio Gonzalez are scheduled to compete in the annual XM Satellite Radio Futures Game on Sunday.

Carrasco has come a long way since his 2005 season, when he compiled an 8.31 ERA at Class A Lakewood and Rookie League Batavia. He began that season at Lakewood, but was sent down after a rough start.

Phillies assistant general manager Mike Arbuckle said this week that he may have rushed the 19-year-old.

"That was my fault," Arbuckle said. "I probably put him over his head a little bit, rather than letting him go through the normal maturation process. We didn't get him back on track until instructional league [last fall]."

The right-handed Carrasco has a 2.66 ERA for Lakewood this season and seems to be progressing well.

The 20-year-old Gonzalez was one of three players acquired from the White Sox for Jim Thome. The lefty is 4-9 with a 4.08ERA, and has allowed 86 hits in 99 1/3 innings, while striking out 112.

Arbuckle is thrilled to see both get the experience on a big stage, like Brett Myers, Gavin Floyd, Pat Burrell and Scott Mathieson did in the past.

"[The Futures Game] will give them a feel of what it's like in the big leagues," Arbuckle said. "We can talk all we want about trying to prepare them, but pitching in front of 6,000 people in a Minor League park is a lot different than pitching in front of 40,000 in a Major League park. It'll be great for them."

Philling in: With a first-inning single on Saturday, Abreu has reached base safely in 33 straight games, the longest current on-base streak in the Majors and the second longest of his career. His longest stretch over two seasons was Aug. 15, 2000 to April 10, 2001. ... Pat Burrell's 3-year-old bulldog, Elvis, was an unexpected guest in the Phillies' clubhouse, wearing a Burrell jersey. ... Forty of Philadelphia's 61 errors this season have come at Citizens Bank Park. ... Catcher Mike Lieberthal went 1-for-2 and was hit by a pitch in his first rehab start for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He caught six innings. ... Lefty Randy Wolf will resume his rehabilitaion assignment by starting on Tuesday for Class A Lakewood.

Coming up: Every start has been a new experience for 22-year-old rookie Cole Hamels, and his outing on July 4 was no exception. Hamels, who faces fellow young lefty Zach Duke in Sunday's 1:35 p.m. ET series finale against the Bucs, was pulled after two innings as a result of a one-hour rain delay. He's winless since June 6 and is 0-4 with a 7.54 ERA since.

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