Timetable for Kendrick's return uncertain

There's a chance the veteran could be back next week

Timetable for Kendrick's return uncertain

ARLINGTON -- Howie Kendrick could be back in the Phillies lineup sometime next week.

Or perhaps that timetable is overly optimistic. Kendrick's strained right abdomen remains problematic. He has been on the 10-day disabled list since April 16 with the injury. Kendrick has experienced some improvement, but recently said he felt more soreness in the same area.

"You go two steps forward and you have the slightest thing set you back," Kendrick said.

Kendrick fielded some ground balls before Wednesday night's game against the Rangers at Globe Life Park. There are no immediate plans to begin swinging a bat, although Kendrick and Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said that should not be a problem once he is cleared.

"I'm hoping he can be back in a week, if possible, with a couple of rehab games," Mackanin said. "I'm hoping."

Kendrick hit .333 (13-for-39) with four doubles, one triple, five RBIs and an .883 OPS in 10 games before the injury. Once he returns, Mackanin will have to find a way to play Kendrick, Aaron Altherr, Odubel Herrera and Michael Saunders in the outfield.

Altherr has played himself into an everyday role. He entered Wednesday leading the big leagues with a 1.314 OPS in May. He had reached base safely in 26 of 55 plate appearances this month and his 16 RBIs are the most by any Phillies player in May since 2014, when Ryan Howard had 23 and Domonic Brown had 17.

Herrera is hitting just .255 with 10 doubles, three home runs, 13 RBIs and a .704 OPS in 153 plate appearances, but the center fielder will continue to play regularly. Saunders is hitting .238 with six doubles, one triple, three home runs, 13 RBIs and a .667 OPS.

"Well, I don't even want to go there yet," Mackanin said about potentially less playing time for Saunders. "We got him for a reason and I know he's a better hitter than he's shown up until now.

"I face an issue, but I'm going to continue to work Altherr in there as much as I can. Give Odubel a day off. Give Saunders a day off. At the same time, try to keep the other guys on the bench sharp."

But that decision might be at least a week away.

"I'm never going to put a date on it because I know obliques are strange, man," Kendrick said about his return. "It's getting better, but it sucks. I want to play. I want to be back out there, but right now I can only work with what I've got."

Gomez's return?
Phillies right-hander Jeanmar Gomez has had very little to say about the impingement in his right elbow, which has had him on the 10-day DL since May 6. He is scheduled to throw a bullpen session Thursday.

"He's a little tentative to let it go," Mackanin said. "[Thursday] he'll see how that feels and we'll know more from there."

Gomez went 2-1 with a 7.94 ERA in nine appearances before the injury. He also lost his job as closer.

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.