PHILADELPHIA -- Phillies left-hander Jake Diekman has an overpowering fastball, but the young reliever is still improving his breaking ball. After allowing three home runs on hanging sliders in a span of six outings in April, he made some adjustments and has since gotten better results.
Diekman fired two perfect innings Monday against the Blue Jays, striking out three and keeping his slider down in the strike zone. He also struck out the side in a scoreless inning Friday against the Nationals. That's a good sign for a Phillies bullpen that has struggled mightily this season.
"He made some good adjustments and showed it last night," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said Tuesday. "He threw the breaking balls in the zone, out of the zone. Not pitches that could be driven, but pitches that would be tempting and then break out of the zone, which is good for him. He had his good fastball. So he had a good combination last night with both of his pitches with good location and getting ahead of the hitters with fastballs."
As a reliever in his first full season in the big leagues, Diekman is bound to have his ebbs and flows. But the Phillies like the way the lefty has responded to adversity.
"Yeah, make some adjustments and learn from mistakes," Sandberg said. "He's well aware of what he needs to do and what he needs to do with his stuff to be effective."
Rollins held out of lineup for another day
PHILADELPHIA -- Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins was held out of the starting lineup Tuesday for the second straight game, the result of discomfort in his right groin that had bothered him since Sunday.
"Jimmy needs another day," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. "He still has something there. He'll take a light pregame today and then see how that is tomorrow."
Rollins did not work out with the team on the field Tuesday afternoon during pitcher's fielding practice. He later emerged from the clubhouse for batting practice and took ground balls at shortstop. Rollins pinch-hit in the ninth inning on Monday, and Sandberg hoped the veteran would be available off the bench again Tuesday.
"I haven't talked to him about that yet," Sandberg said before Tuesday night's second game in a set of four against the Blue Jays. "But he did last night, so I would suspect that he would be available for me to pinch-hit."
It's unclear whether Rollins will be able to play the field Wednesday in Toronto. "Turf doesn't sound good right about now," he said Monday. Sandberg labeled the shortstop's status as day to day.
Catcher Carlos Ruiz filled in for Rollins in the No. 2 hole in the lineup Tuesday, with Freddy Galvis making his second straight start at short.
Once-reluctant Sandberg embracing the shift
PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies are using defensive shifts under manager Ryne Sandberg, joining a trend that is spreading throughout the Major Leagues.
"We're making some decisions on information as far as spray charts and tendencies and things like that and scouting reports," Sandberg said before Tuesday night's game against the Blue Jays, a club that shifts its defense more than most. "It's been pretty effective the first time around actually applying it and trying it. It makes sense with certain hitters, with their tendencies. When you don't see a guy make an adjustment and swing the same way, it is an effective defensive play."
Before games, Sandberg and bench coach Larry Bowa go over spray charts and scouting reports for each hitter and develop a strategy on how to defend them. They work with the infielders, and first-base coach Juan Samuel coordinates with the outfielders.
"The infielders and the outfielders get that [information], and they play accordingly," Sandberg said. "We make adjustments depending on swings and depending on if the hitter makes an adjustment or not."
The Phillies rarely shifted their defense with Charlie Manuel as manager. Sandberg said he did not think shifts would be a part of his defensive philosophy either, but he changed his mind before this year's Spring Training.
"When it's right there in black and white, it's worth something to apply it," Sandberg said. "This is something new for me. I really saw it last year used a lot against us, and so it made sense to look at that closer and look at the facts and try it. And it's been effective."