Phillies Notebook: Kendrick to pitch Saturday

Posted: July 03, 2013

PITTSBURGH - Two days after he was struck in the head by a curveball while batting against the Dodgers' Stephen Fife, Kyle Kendrick was cleared to start against the Braves on Saturday.

The righthander was originally diagnosed with a mild concussion after the sixth-inning at-bat, but general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said Kendrick has passed all necessary concussion tests and will throw a bullpen session today in preparation for his upcoming start.

Kendrick has been the Phillies' second most effective starter this season behind Cliff Lee, going 7-5 with a 3.59 ERA in 112 2/3 innings over 17 starts.

"He should be good to go," Amaro said.

Kendrick's start on Saturday will be the second of a seven-game stretch the Phillies will play against the Braves and Nationals after the three-game series in Pittsburgh that started last night. They entered the day trailing first-place Atlanta by 9 1/2 games and second-place Washington by 3 1/2 games. They were eight games behind the Reds for the second National League wild-card spot. With 12 games to go before the All-Star break, the Phillies have yet to show that they are capable of finishing the first half in a manner that might prompt the front office to forego the fire sale that occurred last season, when Hunter Pence, Shane Victorino, Jim Thome and Joe Blanton were traded away.

"The question to me is whether we are capable of running off a winning streak," manager Charlie Manuel said before last night's series opener at PNC Park. "I've said it all year long, the inconsistent part of our club . . . are we capable? Can we put together 12 out of 16 [wins]? It's not impossible, but at the same time I would question that . . . We're going to have to play like hell. We have to play right, fundamentally well. We have to hit, we have to pitch and catch the ball. But I've been saying that 2 years now, and I'm still saying the same thing."

The early signs were not promising last night, as Domonic Brown was thrown out at third attempting to take an extra base on an error for the first out of the second inning and Delmon Young dropped a routine fly ball in rightfield.

Chase Utley saved a run in the third inning, making a diving stop of a sharply hit ball by Andrew McCutchen. McCutchen reached first safely, but Utley threw home with enough force to deter Starling Marte. It was the kind of play that will make it difficult for the Phillies to say goodbye to their longtime second baseman if that is the direction they choose to go.

Zambrano shut down

The chances of Carlos Zambrano appearing in a game for the Phillies this season were already slim before he left a Triple A start after two innings on Friday. Now, he will be shut down for 4 weeks with a Grade 1 lat strain, the team announced yesterday. Zambrano's minor league contract allowed him to opt out in pursuit of a better job yesterday, but that became a moot point with his injury. He will not throw off a mound until at least August.

Pitching change

The Pirates will start right-hander Jeff Locke tonight against John Lannan after recalling rookie Brandon Cumpton to face Jonathan Pettibone last night. Locke has been a major factor in the Pirates' hot start, going 7-1 with a 2.06 ERA, 6.3 K/9, 3.8 BB/9 and 0.6 HR/9 in 96 1/3 innings over 16 starts.


On Twitter: @HighCheese

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