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Victorino closest of injured Phils to return

Victorino closest of injured Phils to return

Victorino closest of injured Phils to return
NEW YORK -- Shane Victorino, rehabbing a sprained thumb ligament, went 3-for-5 with a double and an RBI as the designated hitter in his first rehab appearance Saturday night for Reading in Trenton.

"All his at-bats were right-handed," said Phillies Assistant GM Scott Proefrock. "Apparently he's going to face a left-hander today.

"He'll be on the field [in center field on Sunday], and if all goes well, he'll get a flight to Chicago [to join the Phillies on Monday]."

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• Brad Lidge, also with Reading and rehabbing his shoulder, had a much improved outing Saturday night from the previous one in which he threw two wild pitches, and walked and hit a batter. Lidge did not give up a hit or a walk and struck out one in a scoreless inning, but he also failed to hit 90 mph on the radar gun.

"He will pitch again today, and we'll see how he feels after that," said Proefrock. "He is scheduled for another rehab assignment later in the week -- not sure where yet."

"His velocity wasn't all that good last year if you recall. It's a matter of the combination of the command of his fastball and his slider, how they play off each other is the most important thing.

"Earlier in the rehab, he has been in the low-90s. This is Spring Training all over for him. Usually in Spring Training, he'll have nine, 10 outings before he's ready, and he hasn't gotten to that point yet."

• The Phillies also are encouraged by the progress of Roy Oswalt (out since June 23 with back inflammation), who is scheduled to throw off a mound on Tuesday in Chicago, then again on Friday, when the Phillies come home.

"Saw the doctor and is doing very well," said Proefrock. "It just depends on how many rehab outings we want him to have.

"He has continued to throw, so it's a matter of him getting out on the mound, feeling comfortable and expanding the number of pitches. I think he will be able to build himself up faster than in a Spring Training situation."

• Reliever Jose Contreras (out with a strained forearm since June 20) will begin a throwing program in Chicago and still has hopes of joining the bullpen for the stretch drive, as does starter Joe Blanton (out since May 14 with elbow inflammation), despite a mild setback.

"Blanton had a little hiccup yesterday," said Proefrock. "Depending upon how he feels [Sunday] he may be coming back to Philadelphia to see Dr. [Michael] Ciccotti.

"He did not throw his bullpen [Saturday]. He said he could have thrown it but had a little discomfort and didn't want to push it."

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