Notes: Borowski happy with situation
Indians closer had been pursued by Phillies in offseason
CLEVELAND -- Joe Borowski smiled often in speaking about his happiness in Cleveland -- with his teammates, his closer's role and his overall health.He just hasn't converted 20 of 22 saves this season with the Phillies. "Actually, it worked out for the better," Borowski said, as the Indians welcomed the Phillies for a three-game series on Monday. "I'm on a first-place team and everything is going great." The Phillies, meanwhile, have that lost closer Tom Gordon, then replacement closer Brett Myers to injury, and are relying on Antonio Alfonseca. While these events were unrelated, Borowski could've helped. Borowski said he agreed to a two-year, $9 million deal with a club option for a third year in November, pending a physical. When an MRI on his right shoulder showed a pre-existing condition -- a full thickness tear of the supraspinatus muscle in his right shoulder -- the Phillies grew concerned and backed out of the deal. Philadelphia's reasons for changing their mind were supposed to be kept quiet, but within hours, Borowski was shocked to hear that it was being reported. "Something that was supposedly hush-hush comes out the same day it happens," said Borowski, who understood that the information could have been come from a number of different places. "There were a lot of funny things. ... That's why I think it worked out for the best. You don't want to be involved in stuff like that. It left a bad taste in my mouth. It all could be innocent and coincidental, but I had my choice and I didn't want to go there." Though the Phillies later returned with a one-year offer, Borowski had already eliminated them from consideration. Despite offers that steadily increased monetarily, the 36-year-old chose the Indians' one-year deal at $4 million, with a $4 million team option for 2008 (or a $250,000 buyout). Assistant general manager Ruben Amaro said the Phillies make the medical findings public, despite what Borowski may think.
"We told [Borowski and his agent] we weren't going to make it public in order to protect the player," Amaro said. "It became public knowledge that he was in Philadelphia and we had contract discussions with him."
While it is team policy not to discuss contract discussions, the team acknowledged that they continued to pursue Borowski."We did have further discussions with him after the diagnosis from Dr. (Michael) Ciccotti," Amaro said. "I will take exception with how he's describing it to you. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. We still wanted the guy. We just wanted a little bit more protection." Amaro also stood by Ciccotti's findings. "With all due respect to the player, he's free to speak as he sees fit, we are fully supportive of Dr. Ciccotti and his ability to diagnose our players and free agents," Amaro said. "We are very confident in his findings."
With diligent preparation, Borowski has found his way into 29 games for the Indians. His 6.33 ERA is misleading. Subtract two outings in which he surrendered 10 earned runs in 1 1/3 innings, and his ERA is 3.16.The right-hander works out his upper body after every appearance on the mound, and he builds up his lower body twice a week, helping him stay ready. Not that he needs extra motivation, but Borowski can always recall the shoulder injury that kept him out for most of the 2004 season and the fractured forearm that cost him two months of '05. When he arrived in for Spring Training, he found a support group of many former Phillies, that included David Dellucci, Aaron Fultz, Roberto Hernandez and Jason Michaels. "Some of them came up to me and said, 'You should be happy,'" Borowski said.
He is, and he can remember his free-agent experience with the Phillies."Maybe [the experience] was just a way of saying I shouldn't have been there," Borowski said. "When I'm all done, I'm going to get my MRI framed and hang it up in my room." Sweet Home, Cleveland: Phillie manager Charlie Manuel held two media sessions before Monday's game, one each with scribes from Philadelphia and Cleveland. Sitting in the visitors' dugout, Manuel insisted managing against his former team is just like any other series. "It's the same," he said. "I want to win. I'm interested in one thing every day, to win that day. Today, I want to beat the Cleveland Indians." He wouldn't bite at the suggestion that he really wants to beat the Indians, who dismissed him as their manager on July 11, 2002, after 2 1/2 seasons. He had been their hitting coach for six seasons before that. In Spring Training, Manuel brought National League MVP Ryan Howard on a long road trip to Winter Haven -- players don't make all road trips in Spring Training -- to face the Indians, and jokingly explained that he did it "because he wanted to beat Cleveland." "I joke a lot," he said. "I would feel good beating the New York Yankees or Boston Red Sox or Washington Nationals, who give us fits," Manuel said. "I look over there [at the other dugout] and see the same uniforms, but different players. The ballpark is the same, but the players are different." Burrell sits: Despite a lefty starting for the Indians and an extra hitter needed to serve as designated hitter, Manuel benched Pat Burrell for a second straight game on Monday. Wes Helms started at first, with Ryan Howard serving as DH and Jayson Werth starting in left. "It's up to [hitting coach] Milt [Thompson] and myself to work with Pat and give him every chance," Manuel said. "When all is said and done, he's going to have some numbers, When I get Pat a day or two off, he'll respond. He's hit before and he'll hit again." Philling in: RHP Tom Gordon (strained rotator cuff) threw 32 pitches in a full-out bullpen session at the Phillies Spring Training facility in Clearwater, Fla. "That's very encouraging," assistant general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. ... Myers threw again on Monday, and reported no problems, remaining on target for a late June return. He will likely need a Minor League rehabilitation assignment. ... Gordon, Francisco Rosario (right shoulder inflammation) and Freddy Garcia are rehabbing in Clearwater, Fla. ... Seven Lakewood BlueClaws were selected as South Atlantic All-Stars: catcher Tuffy Gosewisch, second baseman Adrian Cardenas, outfielder Quintin Berry, right-handers Kyle Drabek (injured), Ben Pfinsgraff and Grant Hill and shortstop Jason Donald, who was promoted to Class A Clearwater and won't play in the All-Star Game. Coming up: Righty Kyle Kendrick is scheduled to follow up on his Major League debut when he faces the Indians on Tuesday at 7:05 p.m. ET. Filling in for the injured Garcia on Wednesday, Kendrick lasted six innings and allowed three runs against the White Sox. He left with the score tied in a game the Phillies eventually won.
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.