Hellickson on target for Opening Day start

Right-hander's pitching schedule lines up with April 4

Hellickson on target for Opening Day start

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Phillies right-hander Jeremy Hellickson is on target to start Opening Day.

The Phillies have made no official announcement, but Hellickson's pitching schedule lines up with an Opening Day start on April 4 against the Reds in Cincinnati. He allowed no hits, three walks and struck out six in five scoreless innings Sunday in a 5-4 victory over the Astros at Bright House Field and is scheduled to pitch Friday and again March 30.

Aaron Nola is on schedule to start the second game of the regular season, which would put him on track to start the home opener April 11 against the Padres at Citizens Bank Park.

"We're not going to commit to anything right now," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. "We haven't said anything to anybody."

Hellickson's five no-hit innings

Hellickson, 28, would love the opportunity.

"The first dream is to make it [to the big leagues]. The other one is to be the Opening Day starter," he said. "Either way it doesn't matter, but it would be an honor."

Sunday was Hellickson's first start in a Grapefruit League game since March 4. He missed some time because of the flu and then had Saturday's start against the Blue Jays rained out.

"It's been an odd schedule, but I got four innings in a Minor League game (March 13)," Hellickson said. "But it felt like forever since I pitched up here."

• Oberholtzer set to start season in bullpen role

Hellickon said his goal this spring is simple: return to the way he pitched earlier in his career. He went 27-21 with a 3.06 ERA in 70 appearances (64 starts) the first three years of his career, which included winning the American League Rookie of the Year Award in 2011. But he is 22-27 with a 4.86 ERA in 72 appearances (71 starts) in three seasons since.

"I think I was giving in to guys too easy," he said. "I was throwing a lot of 2-0 fastballs, 2-1 fastballs. If I walk a guy, I walk a guy. It's just not giving in anymore. If I locate my fastball it's a different story. I just couldn't get my fastball down when I needed to. I was getting hurt a lot with guys in scoring position. My first couple years if I walked a guy on a 3-1 changeup, I'll just went after the next guy."

Herrera remains sidelined

Phillies outfielder Odubel Herrera has not played since March 12 because of a bruised left finger. He said he plans to hit again Tuesday. Mackanin said the Phillies are being "very careful with him," which makes sense because they are very thin in the outfield without Aaron Altherr and Cody Asche.

"We're going to give him time to get 100 percent," Mackanin said. "He's a big part of our offense, and we don't want to take any chances with him. He'll be ready for the opener."

Worth noting

•The Phillies have had two successful squeezes in the last two games. Charlie Morton executed a safety squeeze Friday and Freddy Galvis executed a suicide squeeze to score the game-winning run in the seventh Sunday.

"That's the kind of offense we're going to have to utilize," Mackanin said. "We're going to have to do a lot of different things to make the other team nervous."

• Left-handers Daniel Stumpf (4.00 ERA) and Bobby LaFromboise (0.00 ERA) each threw a scoreless inning. Both are competing for a bullpen job.

• The Phillies celebrated Alumni Day before the game, honoring former Phillies like Darren Daulton, Dick Allen, Dave Cash and Ron Clark.

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone, follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.