Phillies bullpen returns to full strength

Phillies bullpen returns to full strength

MIAMI -- The Phillies bullpen is finally intact.

The final piece was brought back on Friday, when Philadelphia activated right-hander Clay Condrey from the 15-day disabled list and designated right-hander Tyler Walker for assignment in order to make room on the 25-man roster.

Condrey had been on the DL since June 23 with a left oblique strain. But after throwing four shutout innings through three rehab games -- two for the Gulf Coast League Phillies and the last one on Wednesday for Class A Clearwater -- the 33-year-old is all set.

"It went good," Condrey said about his rehab games. "I found some flaws as far as my mechanics and got some of those ironed out."

Condrey said the flaws in his mechanics might have been caused from trying to "mask" the injury so it doesn't hurt as much. Manager Charlie Manuel said Condrey will be used in his normal role -- mainly in middle relief -- and can pitch in back-to-back games.

"My body feels good," Condrey added. "The training staff has put together a pretty good program, and I feel really strong right now."

In winning a World Series last year, the Phillies bullpen was one of the best in baseball. But despite owning the second-best record in the National League going into Friday, Philadelphia's 'pen has been pretty average thus far, sporting a collective 3.92 ERA that's 14th in the Major Leagues.

But, at least for now, the DL stints are over with for the relievers.

"That means a whole lot to us," Manuel said.

"If we ever get back in that same position we were in [last year], with them throwing like that, yeah, I think it's what's going to take for us to win [a World Series], and I definitely think they can do that."

In and out of the Phillies bullpen this year has been Condrey, closer Brad Lidge and lefties Scott Eyre and J.C. Romero. After posting a 4.87 ERA in June, the Phillies 'pen has a 2.76 ERA in July as they head into the second game of a four-game series against the Marlins at Land Shark Stadium.

And though Philadelphia's relief corps likely won't notch the slim 3.22 ERA that was second in baseball last year, Romero feels they'll be a formidable bunch once again.

"We feel good with what we have," Romero said. "The numbers are not going to dictate that, now that we had a couple of bad months in the beginning of the season, but I think that, yeah, from now on, our bullpen is going to be very consistent. And it's going to make the difference from winning or losing the division again, and possibly getting to the World Series again."

The return of Condrey, who's 4-2 with a 3.71 ERA in 33 games this season, should definitely help.

"We had a few guys hurt here and there, but for the most part, guys have done a good job," Condrey said. "Especially the guys that have come in and taken some of our places."

One of those guys was Walker.

The 33-year-old had given up just two runs in 11 innings spanning nine appearances for Philadelphia this season -- a 1.64 ERA. He also pitched 15 games in Triple-A Lehigh Valley, going 2-1 with a 1.40 ERA.

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