IT TOOK Joe Blanton about 20 pitches to realize that he could go no longer. About 20 minutes before he was scheduled to take the mound against the Rockies, the veteran righthander tried to shake the soreness lingering in his pitching elbow, walking out to the bullpen for his usual pregame warmup.
But unlike his previous two starts, when he pitched through pain that already had forced him to spend 15 days on the disabled list, Blanton realized enough was enough.
After righthander Kyle Kendrick allowed five runs in three innings of an emergency start and the Phillies fell to the Rockies in a 7-1 stinker, the news got even worse.
Both Blanton and starting centerfielder Shane Victorino are expected to be placed on the 15-day disabled list today.
A couple of hours before the game, Victorino had expressed optimism about a sore hamstring that had sidelined him since Saturday. That was before he learned an MRI had revealed what general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. termed a Grade 1-to-2 strain.
Because of a pinch-hit sacrifice bunt that Victorino laid down in a 2-1 win over Colorado on Wednesday, the Phillies will only be able to backdate his DL stint 1 day, meaning they will be without him until at least June 3.
Blanton will be eligible to come off the disabled list May 30, although neither he nor the Phillies knew the severity of his injury.
"If I knew how serious Victorino was hurt, I definitely wouldn't have put him up to bunt," manager Charlie Manuel said. "I definitely would not have done that. But he says that he can bunt and he's on the roster and everything like that, and it would have been between him and [Roy] Oswalt who would have bunted."
The moves likely will result in righthander Vance Worley's return from Triple A Lehigh Valley, where the Phillies sent him on Monday after activating Oswalt from the disabled list.
Victorino's replacement is less certain. Amaro said the team would "probably not" call up top prospect Domonic Brown, saying the Phillies don't think the rightfielder is ready for a promotion.
Brown missed the first month of the minor league season while recovering from surgery on his right thumb. He has played in 11 games, hitting .341 with two home runs, 10 RBI and nine runs scored, but recently returned from a sprain of the same thumb, which sidelined him for a few days.
"We don't think that he's ready to do it," Amaro said.
The only other position player at Lehigh Valley who is on the 40-man roster is utility infielder Brian Bocock, although the Phillies could make a move to free up a space.
Offensively, the top three performers at Lehigh Valley this season have been veteran outfielders Brandon Moss (.267 BA, .867 OPS, five HR) and Rich Thompson (.268 BA, .723 OPS, 16-for-16 SB) and infielder Jeff Larish (.236 BA, .805 OPS, eight HR), but all are lefthanded hitters.
The Phillies are scheduled to face lefty starters C.J. Wilson tonight and Matt Harrison on Sunday. The switch-hitting Victorino was the Phillies' top hitter against lefthanded pitching.
Among the righthanded options at Lehigh Valley are big-league veterans Ronnie Belliard and Josh Barfield, as well as switch-hitter Delwyn Young.
The game itself was almost as ugly as the news afterward. Veteran slugger Jason Giambi hit a career-high three home runs and drove in all seven of the Rockies' runs. He connected on three-run and two-run shots off Kendrick and a two-run blast off righthander Danys Baez.
The Phillies managed just one run and four hits with nine strikeouts and one walk in seven innings against 23-year-old Rockies righthander Jhoulys Chacin.
Blanton said afterward that he thinks he rushed back from his elbow injury. He allowed five runs in 10 innings in his two previous starts, but never shook the soreness that forced him to the disabled list in late-April.
"I'm probably part of the problem - I probably rushed myself back too quick," Blanton said. "It's probably a case of I rushed back a little bit earlier than I should have."
Blanton said he did not blame the Phillies for letting him pitch through what he admitted on a couple of occasions was a "cranky" elbow.
"It was my choice," Blanton said. "Really, when I came back, they don't know how I feel. I thought I was good enough to where it would get better and I would be fine. It just went the other way on me. I didn't expect that."
The Phillies are now 26-17 and have lost five of their last six games.
For more Phillies coverage and opinion, read David Murphy's blog, High Cheese, at www.philly.com/HighCheese. Follow him on Twitter at