ST. LOUIS -- Roy Oswalt is wondering how this will go, just as you are.
"It should be interesting," he said.
Oswalt will be making his first start in exactly three weeks Tuesday against the Cardinals. He was activated from the disabled list Monday as righthander Vance Worley was optioned to triple-A Lehigh Valley so he can remained stretched out as a starter.
He has no idea what to expect from his velocity, location and stamina.
He does know his back is feeling fine. But he has faced live hitters just once in those 21 days -- a single-A rehab game last Thursday. He threw 75 pitches in that game and won't go much more than that Tuesday.
So why not have Oswalt build his arm strength in the minors?
"No," Oswalt said. "No, they needed someone to throw tomorrow."
"He says he wants to go and he's ready," Charlie Manuel said. "... I think we figured it’s going to get better here."
A scout at the Clearwater game Oswalt started said the righthander's fastball was clocked regularly between 88 to 90 m.p.h. He topped out at 92 m.p.h. This for a guy who typically averages 93 m.p.h.
The Cardinals can expect a hefty dose of off-speed stuff from Oswalt, much like the approach he had in the minor-league rehab start.
"I've went through three or four starts where I didn't have 94, 95," Oswalt said. "You have to learn how to pitch [without it]. If not, you'll get hit around. Hopefully I can get my location going. Velocity isn't a big deal to me. I feel like I can throw enough off-speed pitches and locate the ball well enough where I can pitch."
Interesting starters at third base for both teams Monday.
Placido Polanco is out of the lineup, just the second time in 40 games he has not started for Manuel. The manager said Polanco has some very minor back stiffness, but this was more to get him off his feet.
Manuel said he could tell Polanco needed a blow because he is chasing bad pitches and getting out on his front side.
Meanwhile, Albert Pujols is making his first start at third base since Sept. 23, 2002. He was originally in the lineup at first base, but St. Louis manager Tony LaRussa made a late lineup change. (Shocking.)
So without Polanco and Shane Victorino, who did some running today and also took batting practice, the Phillies' lineup is an absolute mess.
1. Jimmy Rollins 6
2. Wilson Valdez 5
3. Raul Ibanez 7
4. Ryan Howard 3
5. John Mayberry Jr. 8
6. Ben Francisco 9
7. Pete Orr 4
8. Carlos Ruiz 2
9. Cliff Lee 1
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