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Hernandez to rejoin rotation as fifth starter

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PHILADELPHIA -- Roberto Hernandez is proving to be a valuable piece in the bullpen for the Phillies, but he'll be back in the rotation next week. Such is the life of a fifth starter with experience as a reliever.

With the Phillies using a four-man rotation in the short-term, Hernandez has made two relief appearances since making 99 pitches in a start against the Nationals on May 4. Manager Ryne Sandberg seems to trust the right-hander out of the bullpen, as both of Hernandez's appearances have come in the ninth inning.

Hernandez tossed a scoreless ninth against the Reds on Friday with the Phillies trailing, 3-0. Clinging to a lead last Sunday in New York, Sandberg asked Hernandez to get out of a jam left behind by Antonio Bastardo.

"He's got his stuff right from the get go," Sandberg said of Hernandez, who is 2-1 with a 4.19 ERA in seven starts. "He gets to let it all hang out there for one inning and he's got a lot to offer. He gets some tough swings, but he's got good movement on his stuff all around the zone. So as far as coming out and throwing strikes, he's been very good at that."

Phillies management still prefers Hernandez to be in the rotation, and he's scheduled to start Friday against the Dodgers. The organization doesn't have many options to replace Hernandez as a starter. Jonathan Pettibone is on the disabled list in Triple-A due to a shoulder issue.

General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said Pettibone was examined by team physician Michael G. Ciccotti and given a couple of options -- likely including surgery -- but is seeking a second opinion on Wednesday from Dr. James Andrews in Pensacola, Fla.

Pettibone has a history of shoulder problems. He was on the disabled list for the final two months of last season and had a setback during Spring Training this year.

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. Austin Laymance is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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