Still going strong

The young Phillies second baseman led off the bottom of the ninth with a single, ending the even younger Cubs lefthander's no-hitter.

The date: April 13, 1987. The place: Veterans Stadium.

More than 21 years later, Juan Samuel and Jamie Moyer will cross paths again Friday night.

Samuel will be honored with a ceremony and a plaque on the Phillies Wall of Fame before the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Citizens Bank Park. Moyer, who now works for the Phillies, will be prepping for the 575th start of his big-league career Sunday against the Buccos.

It's kind of incredible when you think about it. Samuel has been retired 10 years now. Moyer is still going strong. Even Sammy, now third-base coach for the Baltimore Orioles, can hardly believe it.

"It's amazing," Samuel said last week. "He's endured and he's still throwing the same stuff. It shows that pitching isn't about throwing hard, it's about being smart."

Moyer is 45 years old. He's a free agent at the end of the season. And he isn't ready to call it quits just yet.

"As far as I know, I'm going to play (in 2009)," he said. "There's a lot of baseball left to be played this year, and that's what I need to remain focused on. I have to get through this year healthy. But if I do that, I have all intentions of playing next year."

The open question, of course, is who he will play for.

There is no obvious reason why it wouldn't be the Phillies. He's tied for the team lead with 10 wins. His earned-run average (3.78) is lower than any other starter except Cole Hamels. His wise counsel is prized by everyone. His community work is exemplary. His salary requests have been reasonable.

All signs point to Moyer wanting to return. There is no indication that the Phillies have approached him, though. Maybe they want to make sure he doesn't break down. Maybe they're leaving that decision to the next general manager.

Maybe it will all work out, too, although it's always a gamble to allow a player to test the market.

And, by the way, when Moyer sees Samuel Friday night, he will relive that near no-hitter all over again. "It's usually one of the first things that goes through my mind," Moyer said with a small smile.

Stat of the week

The Nationals are paying $23.34 million to the 25 players on their active roster. Which is less than what they're paying the six players they have on the disabled list ($14.29 million), plus four players who have been released ($12.65 million).

That can't be good.

—Combined wire services

EARLY SHUTDOWN CANDIDATES

For major league teams out of the playoff chase, it could soon be time to limit some of these starters' workloads in September: Edinson Volquez, Cincinnati Reds; Justin Duchscherer, Oakland Athletics; Jonathan Sanchez, San Francisco Giants; Jeremy Guthrie, Baltimore Orioles; Zack Greinke, Kansas City Royals

PLAYOFF CONCERNS

Contending teams won't hesitate to use their best pitchers down the stretch in their efforts to make the postseason, but if there's opportunities for major league managers to scale back or take starters out early in blowouts, these pitchers might be good candidates: Jon Lester, Boston Red Sox; Ricky Nolasco, Florida Marlins; John Danks and Gavin Floyd, Chicago White Sox

USA Today