J.C. Romero threw 30 pitches during a bullpen session yesterday, and suggested he might be able to return from the disabled list by the end of next week.

The lefthanded reliever said he would throw another bullpen session Sunday at triple-A Lehigh Valley, then join the Phillies next week in Washington, where he will pitch a simulated game.

To say Romero has had a truncated season is an understatement. He sat out a 50-game suspension after he tested positive for a banned substance, then went on the DL July 23 with a strained left forearm. When he was on the cusp of returning in mid-August, he suffered a setback.

"The soreness is going to be there even when I'm feeling good," he said. "We're looking at 85 to 90 percent. Seventy-five, 80 percent won't cut it. If I'm 85, 90 percent, I'll be ready.

"Hopefully, after Washington, I'll be ready to go. You might see me next week, depending on how I feel."

Roster grows

Catcher Paul Hoover was added to the Phils' 40-man roster.

Hoover, 33, spent the season with triple-A Lehigh Valley, and batted .253 with 16 doubles, a home run, and 28 RBIs in 73 games. A righthanded batter, Hoover hit .344 against lefthanders, and could be used as a pinch-hitter against them.

"If I get a chance, I hope to take advantage of it," Hoover said. "It's tough. You're getting older, and you want to show people and get back to the top. Fortunately for me, I was able to get the call."

The club designated catcher Joel Naughton for assignment to make room for Hoover. Naughton hit .240 in 82 games for single-A Clearwater.

Also, reliever Clay Condrey will continue his rehabilitation assignment tomorrow with Lehigh Valley. The righthander has been on the DL since July 23 with a strained left oblique (side muscle). And lefthander Antonio Bastardo was activated from the 60-day DL and optioned to Reading. The Phillies designated righthander Steven Register for assignment to make room for Bastardo on the 40-man roster.

A new look for Victorino

The Phillies received one of Rawlings' new S100 batting helmets Wednesday. The helmets are bigger and designed to absorb the shock of a fastball better than customary helmets. Shane Victorino wore the helmet for his first two at-bats last night.

"It's bigger and heavier, but not uncomfortable," he said. "I just wanted to see what everyone keeps talking about: 'The new helmet. The new helmet.' So I gave it a run."

Victorino, a switch-hitter, usually wears a double-ear-flap helmet. The S100 had only a right earflap.

"I felt naked without the other earflap," he said. "If they send me a double earflap, I'll give it a try."

Minor-leaguers will be required to wear the new helmet next season. Victorino is not sure it will catch on in the majors.

"I don't think many guys will want to wear it because of the girth of that thing," he said. "It's so big."

Some of Victorino's teammates ribbed him about wearing the helmet last night.

"It's not the first time I've been called Gazoo," he said. Gazoo is the alien with the big helmet in The Flintstones.