After experiencing some back discomfort during his start against the Marlins on April 15 at Citizens Bank Park, Roy Oswalt said he didn’t think there was anything to worry about.
He’s changed his mind.
Oswalt was scratched from his scheduled start against the Braves Saturday night. After leaving the team for more than a week to attend to tornado damage around his family homes in Mississippi, he threw in the bullpen Thursday, and his back was still bothering him.
He likely will go on the disabled list Saturday.
Kyle Kendrick will start in his place.
Oswalt conceded that his back had bothered him in subsequent starts in San Diego and Arizona.
“A little bit,” he said when asked whether he is now concerned. “The start in San Diego, I didn’t tell anybody. Kind of got through it. Thought I’d be fine for Arizona, too. But it kind of got to the point where’s it’s unbearable. So a little bit of concern. It’s early in the year, and I don’t want to have it linger to July, August. So maybe a few more days will help out some.”
A pitcher most likely will be recalled from the minors when Oswalt is officially put on the DL. If it’s done Friday, the move can be backdated to April 26.
Kendrick said he thinks he can pitch at least five innings Saturday night. But he said he doesn’t look at this as any kind of audition for a future return to the rotation.
“Five should be no problem,” he said. “I can [start]. How long have I been starting for? Not at all. I’m just going out there and starting a game. It’s my first one of the year. I know I can do it, and I think they know. I’m excited to start. It’s been a while. I’ve done it before. It’s nothing new.”
Vance Worley, who has pitched extremely well in two starts since being brought up from Triple A Lehigh Valley will be available out of the bullpen.
In other injury news, second baseman Chase Utley is expected to play in an extended spring game Saturday in Florida.
“We’re going to try to progress him,” general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. “It’s good to know he’s actually going to be on the field, playing second base, swinging a bat. It’s all good stuff. We’ve told him to do what he feels comfortable with. And as long as he’s comfortable, we’ll just let it play out.”
Righthander Joe Blanton, who has been on the DL with an impingement in his right elbow, is expected to be ready to start Monday in Florida. That’s why Worley can pitch out of the bullpen behind Kendrick.
Catcher Carlos Ruiz could also be headed for the disabled list. A decision could be made as soon as Saturday.
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