ARLINGTON, Texas — When Aaron Nola felt soreness in his back April 20, the Phillies exercised caution. The young righthander expected to miss just one start.
A month later, he will finally rejoin the Phillies rotation.
Nola pitched 61/3 innings Monday in Rochester, N.Y., and traveled Tuesday to Texas to be with the Phillies. He is likely to start Sunday in Pittsburgh.
Nick Pivetta, who has made three starts in Nola's place, will pitch again Thursday against the Texas Rangers. Vince Velasquez, who pitched in last Sunday's doubleheader, will start Saturday. With Nola going Sunday, both he and Velasquez will make their next starts with an extra day's rest.
Nola threw 77 pitches (50 strikes) Monday for triple-A Lehigh Valley. He struck out seven and walked one in his scoreless start.
"He pitched really well," said Phillies manager Pete Mackanin, who read an internal report on Nola's outing.
Nola, in his three major-league starts before straining his back, could not pitch into the seventh inning. That he did it in a minor-league rehab game is not surprising but still encouraging.
Jake Diekman, the other piece traded by the Phillies with Cole Hamels, is on the disabled list, too. Diekman, who has suffered from ulcerative colitis since childhood, underwent two surgeries to rebuild his colon earlier this year. He has another scheduled for next month. Diekman hopes to return to the Rangers in August. ... The Phillies' minor-league affiliates entered Tuesday with a cumulative .600 winning percentage, the best mark in all of baseball. ... The Phillies released Dalier Hinojosa from his minor-league contract. He began last season as the closer but had yet to pitch this season because of a shoulder injury.