Bruntlett to savor final start at shortstop

Bruntlett to savor final start at shortstop

PHOENIX -- At some point this weekend, likely in the series opener against San Francisco, 2007 National League MVP Jimmy Rollins will triumphantly return to the starting lineup, albeit without a parade down Lombard Street.

The Phillies will celebrate his arrival internally, emboldened with the knowledge that one of their leaders and main sparkplugs is ready to resume the sequel to his brilliant campaign from a season ago.

While Rollins' return fittingly comes near where he grew up, it serves as bad timing for fellow area resident Eric Bruntlett, who will cede his starting job.

For Bruntlett's family, which plans to attend the game, it will seem normal.

"They're used to me waving from the dugout," Bruntlett said, with a laugh.

With Rollins' return looming, Bruntlett will savor Thursday's start against the Diamondbacks in the series finale, his 28th start this season. The career utililty man has never had more than 35 starts in any of his previous five seasons in the Major Leagues.

Hitting .240 overall, Bruntlett has batted .277 (18-for-65) since April 20, when Rollins was officially placed on the disabled list. His steady and sometimes spectacular play defensively erased a rough first game, when he made two errors.

While Bruntlett understands his role, he's glad he was able to show his ability.

"This is the most I've played every day," Bruntlett said. "It's been fun, and different. I'm anticipating that transition [back to a utility role]. I was able to help [manager Charlie Manuel's] perception of what I can and can't do. He knows how he can use me and has confidence in me to fill in where he needs to."

"He's done a tremendous job for us," Manuel said. "The more he got to play, he started to hit better, too."

Players of Bruntlett's ilk can obviously go one of two ways when a need for their full-time services arises, and Bruntlett took the successful route. Though it won't happen in Philadelphia, perhaps Bruntlett can make people think twice before labeling him a part-time player.

Still, when you can play multiple positions well, and perform in a bench role, it's hard to look at a guy differently. Bruntlett won't think about that. For now, he'll take satisfaction in his contributions and know more will come as needed.

When that happens, Bruntlett will be ready and more relaxed, unlike his first few games.

"That's something that guys in my role fight, trying to do too much," Bruntlett said. "When you get one at-bat here or there, or one start a week, you sometimes try to do everything every at-bat, because you might not see the field for another two weeks. That's part of the battle I fight and guys like me, you can't play that way."

Pitching matchup
PHI: RHP Brett Myers (2-2, 4.70 ERA)
Myers' fastball velocity improved from his previous two outings, and the right-hander used it more to set up his other pitches, as he always should. Myers continued long-tossing between starts, as suggested by pitching coach Rich Dubee. He needs to keep the momentum for his start against the undefeated Brandon Webb. Myers has made five career appearances against Arizona and is 2-1 with a 3.00 ERA.

ARI: RHP Brandon Webb (7-0, 2.49 ERA)
Webb has won all seven of his starts this season. Hot starts are nothing new for Webb, as he started the 2005 season 6-0 and opened the '06 campaign with franchise-best 8-0 mark. In his last outing, the right-hander allowed four runs on five hits over six innings. Three of the runs came on a Carlos Delgado homer in the sixth inning. Webb's changeup has become a valuable strikeout pitch when he gets to two strikes. Webb won the National League Cy Young Award in 2006 and finished second in the voting to San Diego's Jake Peavy last year.

Tidbits
Infielder Bran Harman will be shipped to the Minors to make room for Rollins' return. After being summoned from Double-A, Harman received eight at-bats and two starts at second base. "I think Harman is going to be a good hitter," Manuel said. "He can play. He can play second base and shortstop. Eventually, he can be a hell of a third baseman. He's got a good swing."

Tickets
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On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
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•  Official game notes

On television
• CSN-HD

On radio
• WPHT 1210, WUBA 1480 (Español)

Up next
• Friday: Phillies (Cole Hamels, 3-3, 3.10) at Giants (Pat Misch, 0-0, 5.40), 10:15 p.m. ET
• Saturday: Phillies (Jamie Moyer, 2-2, 4.15) at Giants (Tim Lincecum, 4-1, 1.49), 4:05 p.m. ET
• Sunday: Phillies (Adam Eaton, 0-1, 5.63) at Giants (Jonathan Sanchez, 2-2, 4.74), 4:05 p.m. ET

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