Shane Victorino's ball-and-breakfast date at double-A Reading on Thursday morning was canceled but not because the centerfielder had any setback in his rehab.
The Phillies simply decided that Victorino was ready to return and he should be in the lineup for Friday night's game against the Pirates at picturesque PNC Park.
A season ago, Manuel thought he had his most potent lineup. But after opening day, the starting eight of Jimmy Rollins, Placido Polanco, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Jayson Werth, Victorino, Raul Ibanez, and Carlos Ruiz played only 12 more times together. The Phillies went 10-3 in those games and averaged 4.92 runs per game.
Now Manuel is hoping to have a lineup that includes all of the above with the exception of Werth. Rookie Domonic Brown will get every opportunity to prove he deserves that job, something he has done by hitting .324 in 11 games.
The team will have to make a roster move before activating Victorino. Optioning outfielder John Mayberry Jr. to triple-A Lehigh Valley seems to be the most likely move. Other options include sending outfielder Ben Francisco to Lehigh Valley or offering utility man Michael Martinez, a Rule 5 draft pick, back to the Washington Nationals. They could also place Ross Gload on the disabled list. Gload has been limited by a hip injury in recent weeks.
Victorino, slowed by a strained hamstring, has not played since being asked to lay down a sacrifice bunt in a May 18 pinch-hitting appearance against Colorado, and he has not started a game since May 14 in Atlanta, the date he suffered his injury.
He is hitting .284 with six doubles, five triples, six home runs, and 19 RBIs, so his bat will be a welcome addition to manager Charlie Manuel's still-struggling lineup, which managed just three runs and 14 hits in consecutive losses at Washington.
Manuel did not know Wednesday what his batting order would look like Friday.
"We'll just wait and see," he said. "We've been struggling offensively, and we still are. We want to be able to generate more offense and score more runs, and we will put the guys on the field who will be our best offense. I'm sure we're going to have to tinker with our lineup some, because we always do. There will be guys getting some rest, but at the same time, we'll get better when we get Victorino and [Chase] Utley back."
Utley, of course, has been back for nine games, but he's still trying to find the swing that has made him a five-time all-star. He's hitting .194.
"Utley is getting close," Manuel said. "He's starting to swing better."
Extra bases. Ibanez needs one more RBI for 1,000. . . . The Phillies will face three righthanders in Pittsburgh. The pitching matchups: Cole Hamels (7-2, 3.01 ERA) vs. Jeff Karstens (3-4, 3.58) on Friday; Kyle Kendrick (3-3, 3.18) vs. Charlie Morton (5-2, 2.51) on Saturday; and Roy Halladay (7-3, 2.56) vs. James McDonald (3-3, 4.85) on Sunday.