The Phillies are in an unfamiliar place to them: At 32-29, the squad is in third place, 3 1/2 games behind first-place Atlanta.
The good news for the back-to-back NL champions is that two integral parts to their NL pennant from 2009 are on the verge of returning.
Jimmy Rollins is struggling to put a right lower leg strain behind him that has already cost him two DL stints on the year. Rollins will begin a rehab assignment with Class-A Clearwater on Tuesday reports Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer . Without any setbacks, Rollins should be back inside of two weeks.
The 2007 NL MVP has played just 12 games on the year. He hit the disabled list days into the 2010 campaign with a right lower leg strain and then came off the DL in early May, playing five games before re-injuring himself on the first day of interleague play. His presence is sorely missed on the Fightins as Rollins' .342 batting average on the season is significantly higher than replacement Juan Castro's .229 mark.
Meanwhile, starter J.A. Happ allowed four runs over two innings for Double-A Reading on Sunday. While the results were poor, Happ was pleased with his performance according to the Philadelphia Daily News . It was his second rehab start in his progress from a strained left forearm that has caused the lefty to miss most of the 2010 season. He has two starts to his name in the big leagues, giving up zero runs over 10 1/3 innings.
He will make his next rehab start on Friday, location to be determined, Martin Frank of the Delaware News Journal notes .
When Happ returns, manager Charlie Manuel will have a tough decision on his hands. Jamie Moyer replaced Happ in the rotation and has been the third-best starter on the team. While his 5.03 ERA ranks fourth among the current starting rotation, it was 3.98 before Boston's dismantling of Moyer on June 11.
Meanwhile, innings eater Joe Blanton has struggled mightily to start the season, throwing up a 7.28 ERA in eight starts. Manuel may not want to bounce Blanton from the rotation, however, because of Blanton's history of success. The other candidate for demotion is Kyle Kendrick, who currently has a 4.80 ERA over 12 starts and one relief appearance.
Speaking of Kendrick and Moyer, the two will flip spots in the rotation against the Yankees. Moyer will now follow Roy Halladay with Kendrick drawing the ball on the final day of the series. It will give the Yankees different looks from the mound in each game.
-- Evan Brunell
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