Oswalt to return to rotation, make start Sunday

Oswalt to return to rotation, make start Sunday

DENVER -- Phillies right-hander Roy Oswalt said he has enjoyed watching the team's vaunted starting rotation blaze through the National League, but he's glad that his days as a spectator are nearing an end.

Oswalt, who has been on the 15-day disabled list with lower back inflammation and two bulging disks since June 24, said he will make his return to the rotation on Sunday at San Francisco.

"I feel healthy and I don't have any pain," Oswalt said. "That's the biggest thing."

The veteran right-hander completed his final rehab start at Triple-A Lehigh Valley on Monday and is eager to rejoin a rotation that has helped the Phillies post the best record in baseball to this point in the season.

"The biggest thing right now is winning this year," he said. "I don't really look too much further than that."

Like he did for the Astros in 2009, Oswalt pitched through pain during the early portion of the season, going 4-6 with a 3.79 ERA over 13 starts. A second cortisone shot has helped relieve the pain in his back, and Oswalt said he is looking forward to taking the mound without discomfort.

"It doesn't make it fun when you're out there and you know you can't perform at your top level," Oswalt said. "You try not to make excuses when you're out there and you try to help your team win. It got to a point where I wasn't giving the team a chance to win, so I knew I had to do something."

With Oswalt starting Sunday, Cole Hamels will pitch Saturday on regular five days' rest.

Oswalt is hoping his performance in the final two months of the season can mirror his results from the end of the 2010 campaign, when he won seven straight decisions to end the regular season.

"Hopefully I can get on a run like I did last year. That'd be great," he said. "The thing about baseball is that you never know what's going to happen until you get out there."