Phils' staff nearly set after two optioned out

Phils' staff nearly set after two optioned out

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The Phillies crystallized but did not complete the look of their bullpen with two roster moves Saturday morning at Bright House Field.

They optioned right-hander Scott Mathieson and left-hander Mike Zagurski to Triple-A Lehigh Valley to leave seven healthy relief pitchers in camp, with Brad Lidge and Brian Schlitter opening the season on the disabled list. The Phillies are expected to take seven relievers into the season, but Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee strongly indicated they are looking elsewhere for help before Opening Day on Friday.

"We've still got a few things in the works," Dubee said. "We're not done yet. This isn't our club yet."

Looking for more help certainly makes sense with Lidge on the DL.

There are internal and external possibilities. External possibilities could be found in a trade or through the waiver wire. Internal possibilities could include somebody like Michael Stutes, who impressed early in camp before being reassigned to Minor League camp, or veteran relievers in Minor League camp, like Jason Grilli.

"We're still looking," Dubee repeated. "We're not finalized by any means."

2010 Spring Training - null
Sights & Sounds
Spring Training Info

The seven relief pitchers in big league camp are right-handers Ryan Madson, Jose Contreras, Danys Baez, Kyle Kendrick and David Herndon; and left-handers J.C. Romero and Antonio Bastardo.

Madson, Contreras and Romero had been locks, and Baez and Kendrick had been heavy favorites.

Bastardo would provide Phillies manager Charlie Manuel with a second left-hander.

Herndon, who made the team last season as a Rule 5 Draft pick, has pitched well this spring. He entered Saturday 0-0 with a 2.79 ERA in seven appearances, allowing a run or more in just one of his seven Grapefruit League appearances. In his previous four appearances, he has allowed just three hits and two walks and struck out five in six scoreless innings.

Herndon has pitched two innings in each of his previous two appearances, which is not surprising because the Phillies are looking for relievers who can pitch multiple innings. That could help him make the team.

The Phillies will need somebody to step up while Lidge is out. Madson or Contreras will close, which means they will be looking for somebody reliable to pitch in the seventh inning. The Phillies would welcome Herndon or anybody else to step up the way Chad Durbin turned from long man/mop-up guy in 2008 into a productive and reliable late-inning reliever.

Mathieson went 1-0 with a 2.00 ERA in nine appearances. He allowed three hits, two runs and six walks in nine innings. He struck out nine. Zagurski went 0-0 with a 2.79 ERA in eight appearances. He allowed seven hits, three runs, one earned run and one walk in 8 1/3 innings. He struck out 12.

"I'm definitely disappointed," Mathieson said. "It doesn't matter if you're sent down the first day or last."

Mathieson said he struck out just one batter with his fastball, indicating to him his splitter can be an effective pitch.

"Everybody gets sent down," Mathieson said. "I told them I'd love to be a Phillie. It's a great organization. Great guys. But more so, I want to be a big leaguer. If they don't see a need for me, I'd like to go somewhere else. But I would love be on this team. If they think I could help them out I'd love to be here."

The Phillies likely chose Bastardo over Zagurski to remain in big league camp because they like Bastardo's stuff.

"It is what it is," Zagurski said. "I came here with the intention of making the team. Anytime you're in camp it's your job to make an impression. It didn't happen yet, but I think at some point they'll probably need somebody, and hopefully I'll be throwing the ball OK and be the guy to come up."

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.