His presence will provide a significant boost to the Phillies' bullpen, considering that it has been beset by injuries and that Myers was not expected to pitch again this year after a June 5 operation repaired a torn labrum. Come October, a late-inning taste of Myers, J.C. Romero, Ryan Madson and Brad Lidge could frighten any postseason challengers.
Romero, on the disabled list since July 23 with a strained left forearm, threw 30 pitches in a bullpen session Thursday. He will toss another bullpen session with Lehigh Valley on Sunday, then throw a simulated game in Washington during the Phillies' trip there next week. He hopes to be activated soon thereafter.
"To me, realistic is tomorrow," Romero said. "If this would be the end of the season, I'd probably be pitching by now. If the division were one game ahead, I'd probably be in there."
Myers' fastball reached 92 mph on the notoriously slow Lehigh Valley radar gun. He thinks he may have been throwing harder based on hitters' swings. But he said he was more concerned with his location, which thus far has been spot on. And either way, he is certainly throwing harder than before, when his sore hip limited his velocity. In 10 starts this season, Myers was 4-3 with a 4.66 ERA.
He could pitch for the Phillies as early as Friday against the Astros. Manager Charlie Manuel said that he will ease the 28-year-old righty into pressure situations. Myers' first few appearances will likely occur in the sixth or seventh innings, and if he pitches well, he will move into a more traditional setup role.
"I hear he's throwing pretty good. Actually, I'm kind of anxious to see him," Manuel said. "Eventually, I look for him to work his way somewhere toward the back end of our bullpen. It makes us stronger. It means we can rest some people."
Myers has been a starter for the bulk of his eight-year career. But in 2007, he served as the Phillies' closer, recording 21 saves in 24 opportunities.
That experience will help him this go-round, he said, because he knows how to warm up quickly and prepare to enter close games perhaps only to face one or two batters.
Even through Lidge has blown nine saves and has the highest reliever ERA in baseball, the Phillies have disputed any notion of a closer controversy. Manuel has said all year that Lidge is his ninth-inning man, and on Thursday, Myers downplayed any reprisal of his '07 role.
"Well, let's hope it doesn't come to it -- that's how I feel about it," Myers said. "Brad's the closer here, and I wish him well and I'm pulling for him every night. If he is sore one day or if he's thrown three days in a row or something, there's plenty of guys down there that can jump in that spot and do it. I don't necessarily have to be the guy that does it, but it's always fun to do."
A free agent at the end of the season, Myers did not want to discuss his future. Manuel said, uncritically, that Myers wanted to come back to show both the Phillies and baseball people throughout the league that he was healthy and could pitch.
Myers said his only motivation was to help Philadelphia.
"I'm not worried about next year; that's something that's going to take care of itself," Myers said. "I can't control next year. The only thing I can control is going out there and trying to pitch clean innings, getting us into the dugout so we can hit some home runs for these fans."