Phillies Notes: Pence back in lineup; Howard improving

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"I typically heal really fast," Hunter Pence said. "I don't know what it is, but I just do." (Matt York/AP)

PHOENIX - Standing in the corner of the visiting clubhouse at Chase Field, Hunter Pence raised his left arm over his shoulder Tuesday and smiled.

"I typically heal really fast," he said. "I don't know what it is, but I just do."

A day earlier, Pence had trouble putting on his jersey. He did not swing a bat or field a ball during batting practice. He woke up Tuesday feeling better. At 9 a.m., he underwent an MRI exam. By then he already knew.

He arrived early to Chase Field and told manager Charlie Manuel he could play. Manuel said fine and ordered him to take swings in the cage with head athletic trainer Scott Sheridan and hitting coach Greg Gross watching. Playing Tuesday became a reality.

Pence's injury was officially diagnosed as a bruised left rotator cuff suffered when he dove for a ball on Sunday. The MRI showed no structural damage. As long as Pence could tolerate the pain, he could assume his cleanup spot in the Phillies lineup. He did.

"I didn't expect to have him," Manuel said.

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The team released a statement from general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. earlier Tuesday that said Pence went for a "precautionary" MRI. Pence credited the team's trainers with helping him overcome the injury.

"I felt like a lot of that picked me up," Pence said, "getting the inflammation out of there so I could move it."

 

Howard waits

The news on Ryan Howard was positive, but it comes with a caveat. Howard will be immobilized for another week until he can be cleared to begin more baseball activities. His wound continues to heal after another visit to a wound specialist Monday in Philadelphia.

Howard has been limited since Feb. 27, when he required a procedure to clean an infection from his original Achilles tendon surgery wound. Another week of inactivity would mean he'd go more than two months without swinging a bat.

Amaro said Howard would effectively start spring training when cleared. He's unsure whether it will take longer than a typical spring for Howard to prepare.

Said Amaro: "Because the Achilles is healed - and all this time waiting for the wound to heal over - the residual effect is that we're going to try to be aggressive with him when he can start baseball activities."

 

Short bullpen

The immediate effect of Kyle Kendrick's three-inning clunker Monday was a Phillies loss. But its aftermath extended into Tuesday, when Manuel was left with a short bullpen.

Kendrick threw 63 pitches and allowed seven runs.

"Sometimes you see guys settle in and they could give you three or four innings," Manuel said. "But they just kept hitting the ball on him. Even in the inning where he was clean, they hit some balls hard. He just had a tough night."

That forced Manuel to use Joe Savery for the second straight night and David Herndon for 51 pitches. Complicating things were questions about Mike Stutes' health.

Manuel said Tuesday he "definitely had to stay away from him" Monday. Stutes said his right shoulder has been bothersome but downplayed it.

"We're trying to figure out what's going on," Stutes said. "I don't think it's anything big."

There are red flags, simply because Stutes was troubled with shoulder soreness at the end of spring training. He claimed he was available for Monday's game.

"That's as far as I know," Stutes said. "I was out there with cleats on and a glove. Every time the phone would ring, I was like, 'Is it me?' "

 

Extra bases

Allowing five runs to the Phillies in the ninth inning earned Diamondbacks reliever Joe Paterson a trip to triple A. Replacing him in the Arizona bullpen was former Phillies lefty Mike Zagurski. . . . Cliff Lee (strained left side) played catch again Tuesday. "It's getting better," Lee said.

 


Contact Matt Gelb at mgelb@phillynews.com or follow on Twitter @magelb.