"My goal was to try to help the team any way I could," Blanton said.
His role is severely limited, but that's better than the alternative of not pitching at all. Blanton's season will likely end when the Phillies begin the postseason, but the 30-year-old pitcher will keep throwing even if he's not on the roster.
His plan is to go to Florida and participate in instructional league play. He still has not ruled out surgery for his right elbow, but there is time to decide what path to take. He'll know which to take only if he keeps pitching.
"I need to know for me," Blanton said. "I need to know for our organization, for everybody. I don't need to show up next year and all of a sudden I'm hurt again and we're back where we were."
Given that Blanton is scheduled to make $8.5 million in 2012 and could slide into the rotation should the Phillies decline an expensive option for Roy Oswalt, his progress in the coming weeks is important.
Blanton said doctors have ruled out Tommy John surgery as a necessity. He still could require a nerve procedure that could require a six-month recovery. That means he must decide on surgery before October ends.
"After the season is said and done - or my season is said and done - I'll have to determine how I feel," Blanton said. "Everybody knows their body, when they're right and not right."
Asked how his arm responded Monday, Blanton said, "It felt OK." Blanton's average velocity on four fastballs was 91 m.p.h., a dramatic increase from earlier in the season, but in a small sample size. (He averaged 87 m.p.h. on his fastball in May.)
"I was happy with that," Blanton said. "It was almost like the first or second game of spring training because I threw basically one bullpen and one rehab game. Every player will tell you the more you throw your velocity will build and build."
Manager Charlie Manuel decided Tuesday was a good chance to rest centerfielder Shane Victorino, who had started 21 games in a row. In 53 September at-bats, Victorino was mired in his worst slump of the season, batting .189.
"We'll see if we can slow him down a little at the plate," Manuel said.
John Mayberry Jr. started in center field and Ben Francisco played in left. Manuel has said a priority is using Francisco more in the season's final weeks so the outfielder is sharp for the postseason.
Another player with limited playing time is John Bowker, the Aug. 31 acquisition from Pittsburgh. Manuel said Bowker would play once the Phillies clinch home field advantage.
"Our people like everything about him," Manuel said. "They think if he got some at-bats he has a chance to be a real good hitter."
Manuel said his understanding was that top prospect Domonic Brown will still rejoin the team upon the conclusion of triple-A Lehigh Valley's postseason. . . . The Phillies' 461/2-game lead over the Astros on Monday was the largest lead over an opponent since Sept. 14, 1899. Those Phillies were 81-47 and faced the Cleveland Spiders, who were 19-115, for a lead of 65 games.
Contact staff writer Matt Gelb
at email@example.com or @magelb on Twitter.