Nick Castellanos almost ready to play, manager recommends a few rehab at-bats

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Castellanos almost ready to play, manager recommends a few rehab at-bats originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

It’s been three weeks since Nick Castellanos last appeared in the Phillies’ starting lineup. A minor right oblique injury has sidelined him longer than expected, but he could be ready to play soon.

The question is where?

Manager Rob Thomson has recommended that Castellanos get some at-bats in the minors before returning, but teams cannot force players to accept minor-league rehabilitation assignments.

“He's done this a couple of times where he's been hurt and really didn't have a rehab stint and he's performed fine, so I don't know,” Thomson said.

Castellanos has been on the field several hours before game time the last few days doing outfield, base running and hitting drills. He saw high-velocity and breaking balls from a pitching machine Friday and, according to Thomson, will do so again on Saturday.

“We’ll see how he feels and then we’ll figure it out,” said Thomson, referring to whether Castellanos would get some at-bats in the minors before returning to the lineup or not. The situation is complicated because Triple A Lehigh Valley’s season ends on Wednesday. The IronPigs play at home Saturday and Sunday before heading to Syracuse for the final three games. All the other affiliates’ seasons have ended.

When Castellanos first went down, Thomson said he hoped the injury wouldn’t sideline the player for much more than 10 days. Castellanos was slowed by some tightness in the area of the injury last week, but he’s ramped up this week.

Thomson was impressed with the way Castellanos fared against the high velocity pitching machine Friday afternoon.

“It was really good,” he said. “He’s swinging the bat good. Had no ill effects. It was really good.”

With Castellanos out, the Phils have received strong contributions from a cast of right-field replacements, including Nick Maton, Dalton Guthrie and Matt Vierling. Maton and Guthrie are infielders by trade.

“They’ve been really impressive,” Thomson said. “I mean, Guthrie's at least played a little bit in the outfield. Maton hadn't. And he's handled it well. They both have handled higher-pressure situations coming down to the end here. It's like they're playing in their backyard right now. They're just going out and playing baseball. It's been great.”