“The Phillies have waited 87 games for Thursday night.
It was, after all, the first time they had their projected bullpen together this season due to the activation of Chad Durbin from the disabled list.
“That’s good,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. “When we were putting the team together, that’s what we lined up.”
Still, some tough decisions had to be made.
The Phillies designated Nelson Figueroa for assignment to make room for Durbin. Figueroa had allowed just one hit over 7 1/3 innings since his June 24 call-up.
The Phillies have 10 days to move Figueroa’s contract, either by trading him, or — if he clears waivers — sending him to the minors. Figueroa can refuse a minor league assignment and become a free agent.
There’s also the possibility that another team could claim him off waivers.
The Phillies went this route with Figueroa on May 31. That time, he cleared waivers and accepted his assignment to Triple-A Lehigh Valley.
Manuel said Figueroa was “disappointed” in hearing the news.
“It was hard,” he said. “I understand how (Figueroa) feels. He did a good job for us. He wants to be in the major leagues. I understand about that. Sometimes you fall into a numbers thing and you need to be in the right place at the right time.”
If the Phillies had tried to send Rule 5 draftee David Herndon to the minors, they’d have to first offer him back to the Angels for $25,000. There was a chance the Angels would have taken him considering that Herndon, 24, has pitched well this season.
“He’s got a high ceiling,” Manuel said about Herndon.
Durbin, meanwhile, said the bullpen should benefit from having so many fresh arms over the second half. And that’s not just because the Phillies bullpen has logged the fewest innings in the National League this season.
It’s also because many of the main components of the bullpen have spent time on the disabled list.
“We’ll have a rested bullpen going into the latter part of the year,” Durbin said. “I would rather be fresh than tired.””