Ben Lively placed on DL, Phillies relief prospect moves up a level

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Ben Lively placed on DL, Phillies relief prospect moves up a level

Updated: 5:14 p.m.

A day after getting shelled in the Phillies’ 8-2 loss to the Diamondbacks, starting pitcher Ben Lively was placed on the 10-day DL with a lower back strain.

“We talked about [his back] in about the third inning of the game," Gabe Kapler said. "It’s something he identified, and he told us that he was able to pitch. And one thing we thought about right away was, ‘how do we keep this guy as healthy as possible?’ That was our number one consideration.

"And then after the game, I had a conversation with Lives, talked through it a little bit more. Now, our mission is to keep him as healthy as possible and get him there as quickly as possible.”

In a corresponding move, Jake Thompson was recalled from Triple A Leigh Valley. But Kapler said Thompson will be coming out of the bullpen and Lively's replacement in the rotation is still to be determined.

“That's TBD," Kapler said of Lively's spot in the rotation. "We have some options internally, we have some options at Triple A, and we’ll think through those.”

Lively, 0-2 with a 6.85 ERA, has been the lone Phillies starter to struggle in April. With Jerad Eickhoff due back soon, Lively’s rotation spot is in jeopardy.

Thompson had allowed five runs (four earned) in five innings out of the Phils’ bullpen before being sent down the second week of April. He made three starts with the IronPigs and struggled mightily his last time out (April 22), allowing 10 earned runs in 3 2/3 innings.

However, in Thompson's last appearance in Philadelphia, he went three scoreless innings in a 20-1 rout of the Marlins on April 7. Kapler liked what he saw that night. 

“His last outing was good for us … He’s got a good slider," Kapler said. "We want to see him continue to develop his slider, we want to see him continue to be a strike thrower. If he’s able to do both of those things, he helps us in these sort of scenarios, in this role specifically.”

In 18 big-league starts, Thompson is 6-8 with a 4.64 ERA. He’s walked 46 and struck out 64 in 95 innings in that role.

Zach Eflin, who has a 4.05 ERA in four starts at Triple A, also struggled in his last start (April 23), allowing six runs in four innings.

Because the Phillies have an off day on May 3, it is possible that a spot starter would be needed only once.

Closer prospect moves up to AAA
In a related move, the Phillies promoted highly-touted relief prospect Seranthony Dominguez from Double A to Triple A.

Dominguez, 23, had a 2.08 ERA for Reading with 18 strikeouts and just two walks in 13 innings. He’s a candidate to be up in the big leagues later this season if he continues to thrive in the minors.

Kapler saw Dominguez pitch firsthand earlier this week at Reading and came away thoroughly impressed.

"He's definitely got the talent," Kapler said when asked if Dominguez could help the Phillies this season. "He's definitely got the demeanor. And one of the things I mentioned yesterday as I was watching him was when we went out for mound visits (during spring training), this was a guy that was completely composed, in some ways similar to the way Scott Kingery's heartbeat is. He was always very cool, calm and collected. Then to come up and dial up 97, 98 (mph) with a nasty slider - those two things in combination lead me to believe he can make an impact."

NBC Sports Philadelphia's Noah Levick contributed to this story. 

Phillies coach Dusty Wathan to interview for Rangers manager

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Phillies coach Dusty Wathan to interview for Rangers manager

The Texas Rangers will interview Phillies third base coach Dusty Wathan for their manager opening later this week, according to a baseball source.

Wathan, 45, was a finalist for the Phillies' job that went to Gabe Kapler a year ago.

Wathan is a former catcher who played professionally for 14 seasons and appeared in the majors with Kansas City in 2002. He managed 10 seasons in the Phillies' minor-league system and was Eastern League manager of the year at Double A Reading in 2015 and 2016 before moving up to Triple A Lehigh Valley in 2017 and joining the big-league staff under Kapler in 2018. He managed many of the players that have recently arrived in the majors with the Phillies.

The Rangers fired manager Jeff Banister in late September. According to reports, they have already interviewed several candidates including former Yankees manager Joe Girardi. Cubs bench Brandon Hyde, Astros bench coach Joe Espada and Rangers assistant GM Jayce Tingler. The Rangers are also expected to interview Don Wakamatsu, who finished 2018 as interim skipper, and Sandy Alomar Jr., a member of the Indians' coaching staff. 

We profiled Wathan here last year.

More on the Phillies

10 Years Ago Today: Charlie Manuel felt professional euphoria, personal grief

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10 Years Ago Today: Charlie Manuel felt professional euphoria, personal grief

Ten years ago this month, the Phillies won their second World Series title in franchise history. Over the next few weeks, Jim Salisbury will look back at team’s run through the NLCS and World Series.

As the final out settled into Carlos Ruiz's mitt and the Phillies clinched the NLCS with a 5-1 win over the Dodgers in Game 5, I looked down at the dugout from the press box. Players streamed out to congratulate each other on the field. Manager Charlie Manuel stayed behind and accepted handshakes and hugs from his staff.

October 2008 was the high point of Manuel’s career, but it came amidst personal grief. Five days before the Phillies won the NLCS in Dodger Stadium, Manuel’s mother, June, died at the age of 87 back in the family’s hometown of Buena Vista, Virginia.

Manuel spoke to his mother daily before her passing and she wanted him to stay with his team. He celebrated the Phillies’ punching their ticket to the World Series and the next day flew to Virginia for his mother’s funeral.

Phillies players adored Manuel because he never complicated things, never got in the way and always had their back. There was a sense of “Let’s win this for Chuck,” throughout that postseason and it shined brightly in Game 5 at Dodger Stadium.

Mr. Bright Lights himself, James Calvin Rollins, fought back from an 0-2 count and led off the contest with a full-count home run against Chad Billingsley. Later in the game, Ryan Howard and Pat Burrell had big hits.

Cole Hamels continued his coming out party with seven innings of one-run ball, giving him a total of 22 innings of three-run ball to that point of the postseason. He was named NLCS series MVP.

Hamels labored through a 26-pitch seventh inning in Game 5 and his warning light was flashing when Manuel went to the mound to speak with his pitcher with two outs, two men on base and dangerous Jeff Kent coming up in a four-run game. One swing could have made it a much different ballgame. Manuel looked into Hamels' eyes and the 24-year-old lefty convinced the skipper he was OK. With the count 2-2, Hamels reached back for everything he had on his 104th pitch of the night. Kent took a called third strike in what turned out to be the final at-bat of his great career.

The spectacular bullpen duo of Ryan Madson and Brad Lidge finished it off and at age 64, Charlie Manuel was headed to the World Series as manager of Philadelphia Phillies.

After the game, Manuel said he knew his mom was watching from above and he recalled his last conversation with her.

“Charles Jr.,” she told him, “you’re going to win these games and go to the World Series.”

Moms are always right.

Previously in this series