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Mario Hollands heading back to Philadelphia with strained arm tendon

An MRI of Mario Hollands' pitching elbow revealed a strain of the reliever's common flexor tendon, the Philies said Sunday.

FT. MYERS, Fla. - Mario Hollands' attempt to make the opening-day roster for a second straight season took a serious hit Sunday when results of his MRI exam showed a similar injury to the one that cut short his rookie year.

Hollands has a strain of the common flexor tendon in his left arm, the Phillies said. The lefthander said the pain felt the same as it did in September when he missed the final month of the season. Surgery was not an option last year, Hollands said. He said he hopes it is not this time, either.

Hollands, 26, will return to Philadelphia to be evaluated by team doctor Michael Ciccotti. He pitched 47 innings as a middle reliever last season and compiled a 4.40 ERA.

Hollands pitched well this spring against lefthanded hitters and had a chance to make the team as a lefthanded specialist.

'Twinkle toes' Herrera

The curveball dipped so low that Jerome Williams wondered how Mookie Betts made contact. The Red Sox centerfielder drove the pitch deep to center field. It fell over the head of Odubel Herrera and bounced off the wall. Herrera had trouble finding it and then dropped it.

Williams joked that he knew it would be an inside-the-park home once he saw "twinkle toes out there running around in a circle." He did not even bother to back up home plate. Betts slid safely into home. It was Herrera's second straight start in center with Ben Revere moving to left field as manager Ryne Sandberg tinkers with the defense.

"He was a little aggressive with trying to pick it up," Sandberg said. "For me, it was probably a triple off the bat with Betts being the runner."

Williams allowed four earned runs on 10 hits in three innings of a 7-6 loss. It was his first start in 10 days after he was scratched last week because of a sore hamstring. It said he left too many pitches high in the strike zone, but the outing was a good test for his hamstring. Everything felt fine, he said.

"It felt kind of new to me again," Williams said. "I know I have the capabilities of throwing the ball into the zone. It's just right now, missing those 10 days, I'm trying to fight and get it back there."

Extra bases

Jonathan Papelbon pitched in a minor-league game in Clearwater. He threw 13 pitches and recorded one strikeout in 11/3 innings. . . . Jeff Francouer finished 1 for 4 in his first game since returning from a sore oblique. The outfielder missed eight games and has six hits in 22 spring at-bats.