Rollins back, Utley healthy, and Kendrick to start

Kyle Kendrick will take the mound against the Marlins Thursday. (David M Warren/Staff Photographer)

HOUSTON -- Charlie Manuel spent a good 15 minutes chatting with Ed Wade early Monday afternoon as some Astros pitchers practiced bunting. Let the jokes flow.

It's a reunion for more than a few people. Hunter Pence was bombarded by the local media and he answered a litany of questions about his return. In a new club lounge at Minute Maid Park, Pence's photo adorns a wall. No need to change it when the current team is 48 games under .500.

A few notes before the late start:

-- Jimmy Rollins is back in the lineup. He's leading off. Charlie Manuel said he will play Rollins for a few days then give him a rest. I could foresee Rollins playing Monday and Tuesday, sitting Wednesday, and then play in one of Thursday's two games.


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Rollins said he's ready to play every day after the strained groin kept him out of the lineup since Aug. 21.

-- Chase Utley's most recent ImPACT test Monday showed he has returned to baseline readings, meaning all of his concussion symptoms are gone. The team expects him to be ready Thursday, when the homestand begins.

-- The mystery is solved: Kyle Kendrick, as expected, will start Game 1 of Thursday's doubleheader against Florida. Cliff Lee will start the nightcap.

When Kendrick takes the mound Thursday, he'll be pitching on 21 days' rest. How will that go?

"We'll see," Kendrick said. "It'll be the first time."

Kendrick has thrown regularly on the side, but he hasn't faced a hitter in three weeks, and that's important. The last time Kendrick pitched, he wasn't a father. Now he has a 13-day-old baby girl.

-- The Phillies and Astros are separated by 46 1/2 games in the standings. Chew on that for a second.

-- Assistant general manager Scott Proefrock said the team is unlikely to add another pitcher before Thursday's doubleheader. Triple-A Lehigh Valley begins its five-game championship series with Columbus on Tuesday.

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