BOSTON — One day after Tyler Cloyd was shelled, a potential Phillies rotation reinforcement will take a key step toward joining the team. Carlos Zambrano is starting Tuesday for single-A Clearwater at Bright House Field.

It marks Zambrano's first minor-league appearance. He made two starts in extended spring training since his May 15 signing. Zambrano could throw around 80 pitches Tuesday if he makes similar progressions from before. He threw 44 pitches May 18 and 64 pitches May 23.

The Phillies have said they will keep him on a starter's schedule to stretch out. If Zambrano performs well for single-A Clearwater, he could move to double-A Reading or triple-A Lehigh Valley for his next outing.

Should the Phillies have an immediate need at that point, Zambrano would be one step away from his return to the majors.

Zambrano turns 32 on Saturday. The Phillies must promote him to the majors before July 1 or he can ask for his release. All signs suggest Zambrano will be in the rotation well before that date.

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