There was enough optimism following Pat Neshek's rehab outing on Tuesday night that the Phillies believe the reliever could be activated from the disabled list after he pitches Friday in a third rehab outing.
Neshek pitched an inning with double-A Reading on Tuesday and told manager Gabe Kapler that he felt stronger than he did in his previous outing with high-A Clearwater. The Phillies have not yet determined what affiliate Neshek will pitch for on Friday.
"I could see it being Friday and then one more after that. I could see it being Friday and we're going to activate him from there," Kapler said. "The thing that I would want to convey is that we would want him to feel sharp. He wants to feel sharp. And as long as he's healthy, he's kind of going to drive the ship and we're going to support it, as it should be. He's an experienced, veteran pitcher who knows his body better than anybody. So we want him to feel confident when he goes out on the mound for us here for the first time."
In the next week, the Phillies could return Neshek, Edubray Ramos, and Luis Garcia. Ramos, on the disabled list with a shoulder injury, will throw Thursday.
Garcia will throw a bullpen session on Friday and could be activated on Sunday, Kapler said. The Phillies' bullpen could be receiving some reinforcements.
"Things are coming together nicely," Kapler said. "It hasn't been perfect, no doubt about it, this season. But it's trending in the right direction right now."
The Phillies called Dylan Cozens up from triple A earlier this month as an emergency replacement when Rhys Hoskins suffered a fractured jaw. The hulking lefthander did not play his way to the majors. He likely still could have used some development in the minor leagues.
But nearly a month later, he is still here. Cozens, 24, was out of the lineup on Wednesday night. He has not started any of the four games since returning Sunday from the disabled list and has totaled just 12 plate appearances in the 12 games the Phillies have played with Cozens on the roster. The Phillies seem to be in a pinch to find a way to develop Cozens, who hit for power at triple A but struck out 75 times this season in 50 games.
"One question that we constantly wrestle with is do you develop more by getting everyday at-bats at a place like Lehigh Valley or do you develop by getting at-bats off the bench and infrequent exposure to major-league competition? I don't think there's a right answer. I think they're both valuable," Kapler said. "Even though Coz hasn't had a lot of at-bats, I think the at-bats that he has had have made him a better baseball player and a more experienced major-leaguer. What we see going forward for him is continuing to get some at-bats off the bench and look for spots to start him."