Phillies designate Qualls for assignment
Chad Qualls entered baseball limbo Thursday morning when the Phillies designated him for assignment one day after he allowed three runs in one inning of work in the team’s 11-7 loss to the Pirates.
Qualls said before he left Citizens Bank Park that he asked the Phillies to trade him and said he’s not sure what he’ll do if he’s sent to the minors.
But general manager Ruben Amaro said his phone hasn’t been ringing off the hook from teams interested in acquiring Qualls.
“At this point, there has not been any interest out there,” he said.
The Phillies have 10 days to either trade Qualls, place him on waivers or release him. If the Phillies can’t trade him and he goes unclaimed on waivers and he refuses a minor-league assignment, he would forfeit the remaining pro-rated portion of his $1.15 million 2012 base salary -- about $600,000.
To fill Qualls’ roster spot, the Phillies recalled lefty Jeremy Horst, who came over from Cincinnati in January in the Wilson Valdez trade.
Amaro said the Phillies considered several other pitchers to replace Qualls, including 2008 hero Brad Lidge, released recently by the Nationals, and David Purcey, who has a 3.56 ERA in 26 games with the IronPigs.
Qualls was 1-1 with a 4.60 in 35 games this year and had allowed seven home runs in 31 1/3 innings.
“I feel like I'm a big-league pitcher,” Qualls said. “I've been doing this a long time. If I go out there yesterday and actually have a 1-2-3 inning, we're not having this conversation at all. It's a little weird that we're here.”
But Amaro said team officials have been talking internally for a while now about replacing Qualls.
“There have been some inconsistencies with him, and it's something we discussed a little bit over the last several weeks,” Amaro said before the Phillies faced the Pirates in a day game at Citizens Bank Park. “His stuff is good. I just don't know if he has been effective as his stuff has shown.”
Qualls, 33, has pitched in 572 major-league games with the Astros, Diamondbacks, Rays, Padres and Phillies.
Assuming he doesn’t pitch again for the Phillies this year, Qualls will become the first Phillies pitcher to allow seven or more homers in 35 or fewer innings since Joel Bennett in 1999.
Qualls had a terrible May -- 0-1 with a 6.10 in 11 games -- but before his meltdown Wednesday, Qualls actually had nine straight scoreless outings, giving up no runs in 8 1/3 innings, and that’s why Thursday’s move took him by surprise.
“I felt like I had been throwing the ball well all June,” Qualls said. “I had only given up runs in two outings this June. No excuses for yesterday. I felt like I was throwing the ball better, but the organization felt like they wanted to make a move and that's fine.
“I expect a lot more out of myself. I could have thrown the ball a lot better while I was here. I could have been more consistent. I don't want to say I'm a scapegoat or anything like that. This is just the move the organization wants to make. ... Hopefully, the move is better for the team.”
Qualls, who had a 3.51 ERA in 77 games with the Padres last year and has a career ERA of 3.82, attributed his lousy outing Wednesday night to fatigue.
“I went and looked at video, and it was pretty easy to see that I was just kind of falling off toward third base, so I was pretty fatigued last night,” Qualls said.
“The month of May? It was really weird. It just seemed like I’d make one bad pitch and they’d hit a homer or something like that, and it seemed like in June I’d finally straightened it out, got the ball down in the zone and I actually felt like I had a really good June.
“But, you know, this is the way it is. I can’t change it. I can’t bad-mouth anybody or argue, that’s not the type of person I am. I’ve been playing a long time, so I don’t want to burn any bridges or anything like that, so you just have to accept it and move on, just like anything else you have to handle in life.”
Horst, 26, pitched in 12 games with the Reds last year, all in relief, and pitched to a 0-0 record with a 2.93 ERA, allowing just five earned runs in 15 1/3 innings.
Horst, who spent the last five years in the Reds’ system, was 2-1 with a 2.11 ERA in 26 games this year with Class AAA Lehigh Valley, allowing nine earned runs in 38 1/3 innings.
“He’s been pretty consistent,” Amaro said of Horst. “He’s been OK as far as the guys who are down there. He’s thrown the ball pretty well ... and he’s got some big-league experience. Good make-up guy, and we’ll see what happens.”
As first reported Wednesday night by CSNPhilly.com Phillies Insider Jim Salisbury, the Phillies also formally optioned lefty Joe Savery back to Lehigh Valley and recalled righty Brian Sanches.E-mail Reuben Frank at email@example.com.