SAN DIEGO -- The Phillies' bullpen had two encouraging months at the end of last season, which had nearly everybody in the organization optimistic about its prospects for 2013.
The good feelings have subsided.
The bullpen entered Monday's series opener against the Padres with a 4.67 ERA, which is the worst mark in baseball and the worst in Charlie Manuel's nine-year tenure as manager. Things didn't get any better on Monday, as the bullpen faltered in a 4-3 loss in 10 innings. Jonathan Papelbon blew his third straight save, as the tying run scored on a passed ball in the ninth after he allowed two inherited runners to score. Justin De Fratus allowed the winning run after he walked two and hit batter to load the bases.
The Phillies will keep their fingers crossed regarding setup man Mike Adams, who signed a two-year, $12 million contract in December. He could require surgery to repair the labrum in his right shoulder. He will see Dodgers physician Neal ElAttrache on Tuesday in Los Angeles after a recent MRI exam revealed changes in the labrum from a previous MRI.
"Our doctors are not recommending surgery right now, but we'll see what ElAttrache says," Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said.
Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee said with Adams sidelined, and with little experience in the bullpen other than Papelbon (494 career appearances) and Antonio Bastardo (192), there will be no defined roles, although it appears the lefty Bastardo will be the team's unofficial setup man. De Fratus also could pitch in the eighth inning if there are matchups against tough right-handed hitters.
Phillippe Aumont (34), De Fratus (37), Jake Diekman (37), J.C. Ramirez (one) and Joe Savery (28) have a combined 137 career appearances.
"We know who we have at the end," Dubee said, referring to Papelbon. "We'll pitch the rest to get to the end. We'll see. We'll mix and match probably as much as possible. If some guy gets on a hot roll, he may be closer to the end of the game. It's an opportunity for all of these kids. A golden opportunity."
Asked about the bullpen's struggles, Dubee said: "It's probably the youngest we've had. Even at the start, it was young. Michael [Adams] was a question mark coming in after the [thoracic outlet syndrome] surgery. We felt good about the three guys at the back end. Chad [Durbin] was here to pick up some innings in the middle. That was an acquisition. [Jeremy] Horst got off to a bad start. [Raul] Valdes got off to a bad start. Those were two guys we got big years out of last year. That's a crapshoot in baseball, trying to find the right bullpen pieces. After wear and tear, sometimes you don't know what you're going to get."
Halladay feeling good after long tossing
SAN DIEGO -- Phillies right-hander Roy Halladay has been tossing a baseball about 60 feet for a few days now, and he said he's feeling good so far.
"Tossing," he said Monday at Petco Park. "That's the key word."
Throwing, he said, is something entirely different. But Halladay, who had right shoulder surgery in May, said, "It feels good."
The Phillies are hopeful Halladay, who will see a doctor again on Thursday, will pitch again before the end of the season, although a potential return probably will not come until late August at the earliest.
"It looks very, very good," Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee said. "The arm action, he's able to get his arm back up very easily. No effort at all. Whereas before, because of the stuff that he had going on in his shoulder, he couldn't get it up on a consistent basis. But now his arm slot is fantastic and he's doing very, very well so far. He's a long ways from pitching, but everything so far is going according to plan."
Aumont back with Phils, in better frame of mind
SAN DIEGO -- Phillippe Aumont said he is in a better frame of mind, which the Phillies hope leads to the reliever's success on the mound.
They need it.
The Phillies demoted Aumont to Triple-A Lehigh Valley in May because they wanted him to pitch more and solve some mechanical issues in his delivery that left him prone to walking too many batters. But Aumont, who rejoined the team on Monday after the Phillies placed Mike Stutes on the disabled list, had an 11.57 ERA and 12 walks in only 4 2/3 innings in his first six appearances with the IronPigs. He told a reporter there he was getting mixed messages from the Triple-A and big league coaching staffs.
"The mixed messages were never an issue," Aumont stressed to reporters on Monday. "It was put out as an issue, but it wasn't. It was unfortunate it was sort of translated that way. I certainly felt bad. Especially for the people who were trying to help me. I didn't like that. But it was mistranslated, in their words, because I just remember they were asking me how was it to go from here to there, and I just said I have to find a medium where I have to please everybody. … I felt bad. For a few days I felt [bad]. This is not where I want to be. I'm the last guy who wants to go out there and point fingers. Not at all. But I made some phone calls and stuff and apologized. Stuff happens."
After his early struggles in Triple-A, Aumont posted a 3.00 ERA in his final six appearances with the IronPigs, walking three in six innings.
"I think I was making progress," he said. "I was certainly at the bottom of the cup when I got down there, but I guess it was just an experience of how to deal with stuff and what to do. Everything is good now. I feel comfortable. It's a little boost of joy coming back here. Now I have to get it back to where it was.
"Obviously I was frustrated I got sent down, everybody is, but I went down there and said, 'OK I'm going to have a positive attitude.' I know they want me to throw more innings, to get out there every day, every other day. I said I'm going to go get it done. It was like I never pitched before. I didn't know. I basically panicked. This is not who I am, this is now what I worked for. I don't know who I am right now. Somewhere in the back of my mind I wasn't over it. I got back on my mental issues program, and got it back to positive, seeing the bright side rather than living on the dark side."
• Manuel said first baseman Ryan Howard did not start on Monday because of soreness in his left knee. The knee has been bothering Howard for weeks.
• Right-hander Jonathan Pettibone left Saturday's game because of a stiff back, but threw a successful bullpen session on Monday without any issues. He is scheduled to start on Thursday in Los Angeles.
• Right-hander Carlos Zambrano will pitch once more for Triple-A Lehigh Valley before the Phillies must decide whether or not to promote him to the big leagues. He can ask for his release if he is not on the big league roster by July 1. Amaro said the Phillies view Zambrano as a starter, although he did not rule out Zambrano helping in the bullpen.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.