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Phillies Notes: Injured Oswalt hopes for August return

While conceding that he has lost six pounds worrying whether he'd ever pitch again, Phillies righthander Roy Oswalt said Saturday he hoped to return to the mound for the last two months of the season.

Roy Oswalt expects to be available for the final two months of the season. (Jeff Roberson/AP)
Roy Oswalt expects to be available for the final two months of the season. (Jeff Roberson/AP)Read more

While conceding that he has lost six pounds worrying whether he'd ever pitch again, Phillies righthander Roy Oswalt said Saturday he hoped to return to the mound for the last two months of the season.

Oswalt, who left Wednesday's game at St. Louis after the second inning because of back pain, is out indefinitely. The uncertainty over when or whether he will return is the result of a disk problem that sends pain shooting through his leg.

Oswalt was placed on the 15-day disabled list Friday, his second stint on the DL this season, and it appears he will be out a minimum of four to six weeks.

He had back problems while he was with the Astros, but he said he hasn't experienced this kind of pain before.

"The symptoms I had in the past have always been around my hip," Oswalt said. "And for the last two, three weeks, it's gotten lower and lower down toward my knee. I've always heard when it gets to your foot, it's not too good."

An MRI exam Friday showed Oswalt has mild bulging of a disk in his lower back, team physician Michael Ciccotti said. Ciccotti said rest, medication, and exercise could enable Oswalt to possibly pitch again. Oswalt also may consider a series of injections, but no plan will be put in place until Oswalt gets a second opinion from a physician in Dallas who has treated him in the past.

The good news for Oswalt is there is no herniated disk.

"Roy has had some mild lumbar spine inflammation in the past, and he was treated very well by the doctors in Houston for that with an exercise program," Ciccotti said.

Ciccotti said Oswalt also has thickening of a joint capsule around the spine, which puts pressure on nerves that go down through the leg. He could receive injections around the thickened capsule, or an epidural, which is closer to the nerves.

"I think the biggest thing right now is deciding what shot to take," Oswalt said.

He won't decide on his approach until he visits orthopedic surgeon Andrew Dossett in Dallas, probably this week.

"Roy will get a second opinion from Drew and we'll talk to Drew, then sit down and decide what's best for Roy," Ciccotti said.

Oswalt said he wanted a second opinion from Dossett because of the doctor's familiarity with his ailing back. He said his back condition has delayed his recovery from previous starts because the pain lingers. In turn, the soreness prevents him from properly preparing for the next start.

Oswalt expressed some relief that the disk isn't herniated. He also made it clear he wants to try to get healthy enough to pitch again before considering retirement.

Oswalt's contract runs through this season, and there is a mutual option for next season at $16 million, with a $2 million buyout if the Phillies release him.

"The biggest thing is they brought me here to win, and I haven't felt I've given enough back to the team as far as the winning aspect of it," Oswalt said. "I'm trying to do what I can do to get back. But if you can't pitch, you have to [retire]."

Madson's hand inflamed

Ciccotti also offered details on the mysterious case of Ryan Madson's injured right hand.

The Phillies closer has inflammation of small muscles in the hand that have hindered his ability to grip the ball for certain pitches. A ball hit by the Texas Rangers' David Murphy on May 20 hurt the hand. Madson has pitched in 13 games since and gone 1-1 with seven saves in eight chances, but he hasn't pitched in a little more than a week.

"He'll hold off throwing until Monday or Tuesday," Ciccotti said. "Certain pitches have caused soreness."

Charlie Manuel said Antonio Bastardo and Michael Stutes would serve as closers until Madson returns.

More injury updates

Ciccotti said reliever Jose Contreras, starter Joe Blanton, and closer Brad Lidge are making progress.

Contreras, who is out four to six weeks with a sore arm, developed soreness in a neck muscle, likely the result of a change in mechanics, Ciccotti said.

Blanton is tossing the ball up to 100 feet in his recovery from an elbow injury. Lidge threw a bullpen session Saturday.

Extra bases

The Phillies' 1-0 win over Oakland on Friday had the longest no-hit stretch by two pitchers since May 2, 1917, when the Cubs' Hippo Vaughn and the Reds' Fred Toney each went nine innings without allowing a hit. Vance Worley threw 52/3 hitless innings before Hideki Matsui doubled. The A's Guillermo Moscoso had a no-hitter for 51/3 innings when Placido Polanco singled.