Don't you just love it when a pitcher in a 5-man rotation is suspended for five games? Yeah, push Cole Hamels' next start back a day, that'll teach him.
Hamels will take five days off without pay for plunking Washington Nationals rookie Bryce Harper on Sunday night. Much of the discussion since the incident hasn't been about the act, but rather Hamels' choice to practically brag about it after the game.
"I was trying to hit him," Hamels said right after the Phils' 9-3 win in Washington on Sunday. "I'm not going to deny it."
He won't appeal the suspension, and he wouldn't have the backing of his general manager had he decided to. Philadelphia's Ruben Amaro Jr. said the Phillies "fully support" the 5-game ban handed down by MLB. With an off day Thursday, Hamels could return to the mound this Sunday and Roy Halladay moved up to Saturday on his normal four days rest. Some punishment, huh?
I'm guessing Nats GM Mike Rizzo would've opted for more time on the bench for the Phils lefty. "I've never seen a more classless, gutless chicken %$#@ act in my 30 years in baseball," Rizzo commented.
Philadelphia will host Washington for three games later this month (May 21-23), and if Hamels thinks Harper's strike zone was tiny before, wait until he sees how much it has shrunk when the teams meet in that series.
Of course, five games off is much fewer than the penalty handed down to Guillermo Mota. The San Francisco Giants reliever was suspended 100 games for his second failed drug test, this time reportedly for having Clenbuterol in his system. Agent Adam Katz is already heavy into damage control and says Mota picked the banned substance up from "children's cough medicine," and that his client would appeal MLB's decision.
No word yet on which arbiter might hear Mota's appeal, but perhaps the journeyman reliever can get lucky by having Shyam Das sit in on the plea, and Das can find some procedural technicality to let him off the hook a la Ryan Braun.
Lee Returns To Phils Rotation Wednesday Against Mets
While we're on the subject of the Phillies, the suspension of Hamels will also be eased for Charlie Manuel & Co. by welcoming Cliff Lee back from the DL. The southpaw is slated to start Wednesday's series finale vs. the New York Mets and he'll be opposed by Dillon Gee in the 7:05 p.m. (ET) start.
New York stung Philly 5-2 in Monday's series opener to reward Mets backers who were getting +160 in the contest. Roy Halladay started for the Phils and was staked to an early two-zip lead before the Mets rallied. Jordany Valdespin's first major league hit was a 3-run bomb in the ninth off Philadelphia closer Jonathan Papelbon to provide the final margin.
Game 2 on Tuesday carried similar odds with Philadelphia -180 behind Joe Blanton on the mound. New York was sending veteran Miguel Batista to the hill for just his second start of the season, and only his eighth since the end of the '08 campaign.
We last saw Lee on April 18 when he tossed 10 scoreless innings at San Francisco, a game the Phils ultimately lost 1-0. Lee has been nursing an oblique injury since then, and will reportedly be limited to no more than 80 pitches on Wednesday. He lost an earlier start vs. the Mets, working seven frames and allowing four runs in a 5-2 setback on April 13 in Philly. The Phils are 0-3 in his assignments this season, and have scored a grand total of three runs in those games.
Gee didn't face the Phils in that April series at Citizens Bank Park, and enters this contest with a 4.50 ERA and 2-2 record (Mets 2-3 in his five outings). He made two starts against Philadelphia last season, earning the win with a 6-IP, 2-ER performance in New York and getting run over in the game at CBP (3-2/3 IP, 8 ER, 6 BB).
New York is likely to be without catcher Josh Tholes for this game and probably beyond. Tholes was sent back home to be tested for a possible concussion after a collision with Phils 1B Ty Wiggington at the plate in the eighth inning on Monday.
Early weather forecasts call for at least a 50 percent chance of rain throughout the day in the City of Brotherly Love. Ron Kulpa is in line for plate duty on Wednesday, and the 'under' is 4-2 in his six games south of the dish so far this year.