SAN DIEGO -- The Phillies' bullpen had two encouraging months at the end of last season, which had nearly everybody in the organization optimistic about its prospects for 2013.
The good feelings have subsided.
The bullpen entered Monday's series opener against the Padres with a 4.67 ERA, which is the worst mark in baseball and the worst in Charlie Manuel's nine-year tenure as manager. Things didn't get any better on Monday, as the bullpen faltered in a 4-3 loss in 10 innings. Jonathan Papelbon blew his third straight save, as the tying run scored on a passed ball in the ninth after he allowed two inherited runners to score. Justin De Fratus allowed the winning run after he walked two and hit batter to load the bases.
The Phillies will keep their fingers crossed regarding setup man Mike Adams, who signed a two-year, $12 million contract in December. He could require surgery to repair the labrum in his right shoulder. He will see Dodgers physician Neal ElAttrache on Tuesday in Los Angeles after a recent MRI exam revealed changes in the labrum from a previous MRI.
"Our doctors are not recommending surgery right now, but we'll see what ElAttrache says," Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said.
Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee said with Adams sidelined, and with little experience in the bullpen other than Papelbon (494 career appearances) and Antonio Bastardo (192), there will be no defined roles, although it appears the lefty Bastardo will be the team's unofficial setup man. De Fratus also could pitch in the eighth inning if there are matchups against tough right-handed hitters.
Phillippe Aumont (34), De Fratus (37), Jake Diekman (37), J.C. Ramirez (one) and Joe Savery (28) have a combined 137 career appearances.
"We know who we have at the end," Dubee said, referring to Papelbon. "We'll pitch the rest to get to the end. We'll see. We'll mix and match probably as much as possible. If some guy gets on a hot roll, he may be closer to the end of the game. It's an opportunity for all of these kids. A golden opportunity."
Asked about the bullpen's struggles, Dubee said: "It's probably the youngest we've had. Even at the start, it was young. Michael [Adams] was a question mark coming in after the [thoracic outlet syndrome] surgery. We felt good about the three guys at the back end. Chad [Durbin] was here to pick up some innings in the middle. That was an acquisition. [Jeremy] Horst got off to a bad start. [Raul] Valdes got off to a bad start. Those were two guys we got big years out of last year. That's a crapshoot in baseball, trying to find the right bullpen pieces. After wear and tear, sometimes you don't know what you're going to get."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.