July 4 Courier Post
Manuel hopes to avoid a repeat of 2009 Mets’ skid
The Phillies don’t have to look too far to see the kind of toll injuries can take on a team.
Just look at the 2009 New York Mets.
The Mets came into that season thinking they had a good chance to win the division. Then the injuries struck. Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran, Carlos Delgado, David Wright, J.J. Putz, and Johan Santana were among several players to go on the disabled list.
Before long, the Mets were buried, playing out the string with a bunch of minor leaguers in major league uniforms. They went from one game back on July 2 to 10 1/2 games back by the end of the month, and finished 70-92.
This season, all of their injured players except Beltran are back, and the Mets are in second place in the NL East.
That’s not to say that the Phillies face a similar fate.
But the signs don’t look very good now that they are in third place, five games behind the first-place Braves heading into Saturday’s games. They have seven players on the disabled list. That includes everyday players like Chase Utley and Placido Polanco, the No. 2 and No. 3 hitters in the lineup, respectively.
Jimmy Rollins recently returned after missing 56 games with a strained calf.
In all, the Phillies have had 12 players on the DL this season.
It’s not quite as bad as the Mets’ situation last season. But it’s not far away, either.
And Phillies manager Charlie Manuel knows it.
“The Mets last year fell apart because they were losing and they couldn’t get their players back,” he said. “The key to that is the guys they plug in there, they’ve got to (provide) support. How much? I don’t know. The guys they were counting on have to do a little more and they have to keep (the team in contention).
“If you start losing everyday, pretty soon you become a losing team and you sink. That’s what happened to the Mets. They never got their players back. If we don’t get any of our players back, we can be hurting, too.”
As it is, Utley could be out until September after having surgery Thursday to repair a torn ligament in his thumb. Polanco could be out another few weeks with chronic left triceps tendinitis. Even when he does return, it’s an injury that could bother him for the rest of the season.
Catcher Carlos Ruiz, meanwhile, is still showing symptoms from a concussion he suffered June 18. There’s no timetable on his return.
His backup, Brian Schneider, is dealing with a hyperextended thumb suffered last Thursday against the Pirates. He has avoided the DL for now.
“We’ve got to keep our heads above water,” Manuel said. “We’ve got to stay in the race and compete. It’s up to us to do it. . . .This is a big test for us.”
Schneider, for one, should know the effect injuries can have on a team. He was on the Mets last season.
“Obviously we’re not at that point now and hopefully we never will be,” Schneider said. “Last year obviously didn’t go well at all. But it was a different bunch of guys. We still have some core guys here.”
That’s the difference for now.
Reyes, Beltran and Delgado went down early in the season and missed the rest of it. Wright suffered a concussion late in the season and missed 2 1/2 weeks. Santana was shut down in late August and had elbow surgery.
The Mets were finished.
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